When you think about eating more leafy greens, it typically includes your typical spinach, kale, chard, broccoli, parsley, cilantro, etc. And there's one big group of greens not to be forgotten...algae.
In addition to the beneficial vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients present in green foods, many of these nutritious foods are also powerful friends to your body's natural detoxification efforts. Serve a bowl of green salad, or enjoy a green smoothie - either way, greens are good!
Chlorophyll - The Ultimate Green Ingredient
Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants and algae. Chlorophyll is critical for photosynthesis, the process through which plants convert carbon dioxide and water into glucose and oxygen using sunlight. Chlorophyll is the most important biological compound needed for plants to live and thrive. Proponents say chlorophyll assists in the normal detoxification process by binding to and removing heavy metals from the body, and by creating an alkaline environment.
Chlorophyll has been shown to have antioxidant properties, even though its role in our overall antioxidant protection may be smaller than the role of carotenoids like beta-carotene or vitamins like vitamin E or vitamin C.
In a 9-year Netherlands Cohort Study on 120,852 subjects ages 55-69 years, researchers concluded the risk of colon cancer in men elevates with increased intake of heme iron and decreased amounts of chlorophyll. The dietary heme iron formed toxic, carcinogenic substances when metabolized, and chlorophyll blocked this reaction.
Chlorophyll is found in many beneficial green foods. Here are three ways you can incorporate greens to help your body detoxify.
3 Greens High in Chlorophyll
Chlorella is a single-celled, green micro-algae that contains chlorophyll. Proponents say chlorella's small size and molecular structure allow it to bond to metals, chemicals, and even some pesticides - carrying these toxins out of the body. A three year, double-blind metal detoxification study with over 350 participants was undertaken at a Russian metal foundry using chlorella as a heavy metal detoxifier. The results showed a combination of broken cell wall chlorella combined with cilantro removed heavy metals - including mercury.
Spirulina is another microscopic, single-cell algae, containing both chlorophyll (green pigment), and phycocyanin (blue pigment). The chlorophyll present in spirulina provides the same benefits as in chlorella, plus the phycocyanins provide additional benefits. Researchers in Japan have found phycocyanins support healthy liver and kidney function during detoxification, and a Cuban study showed phycocyanin has hepatoprotective (liver) effects.
A 2013 published review of spirulina states "Spirulina has several pharmacological activities, such as supporting the body's innate resistance to viruses and bacteria, metalloprotective (prevention of heavy-metal poisoning), as well as immunostimulant and antioxidant effects due to its rich content of protein, polysaccharide, lipid, essential amino and fatty acids, dietary minerals and vitamins."
Green Plant Foods
The deeper the green color of a plant food, the richer that food is in chlorophyll. Cereal grasses, such as wheatgrass or barley grass, are notoriously high in chlorophyll. Other plant foods high in chlorophyll include:
The best way to introduce more chlorophyll into your diet is to eat fresh, organic, chlorophyll-rich foods and drink their juices. Incorporating algaes like chlorella and spirulina can further the benefits, giving your body the nutrients it needs to naturally detoxify and support your quest for optimal, radiant wellness.