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Chlorophyll: First An Internal Deodorizer, Now A Popular Food Supplement


You may remember chlorophyll from biology class as helping plants convert sunlight to energy.  It’s now a popular food supplement and additive, but you need to exercise some caution.

Misti Jones is a nutritionist and diabetes educator with Parkland Hospital System.

Interview Highlights: 

What is chlorophyll? “Chlorophyll is simply the pigment that causes dark, leafy green vegetables to be green and also it cause blue algae to be blue-green in color.”

The internal deodorizer “The supplement chlorophyll has actually been on the market since the 1960s. It has been used frequently as a way for patients who have colostomies to deal with the odor that comes with having that procedure done. So it is seen as an internal deodorizer.”

Why it’s now a popular food supplement “It’s been approved as a food additive. It’s used by chefs to make their food greener. It’s used in cosmetics to help make makeup greener. So we have been using chlorophyll for a very long time without actually being aware of it. Most people get it through their food. If you eat plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables then you’ve been getting chlorophyll every single day. If you’re drinking a lot of green drinks, then you’re definitely getting chlorophyll."

Health benefits of chlorophyll “It’s rich in magnesium, essential for healthy bones and for healthy muscular structure. Also, within chlorophyll, you have calcium, vitamin K, vitamin C, and other minerals such as iron.”

Best advice: Eat the rainbow! “The dark greens, the reds, the whites, the yellows. You’re guaranteed to take in all the antioxidants from all of those rich, brightly colored vegetables and fruit and a lot of consumers are concerned about the total volume that would consumed in day. That’s why they’re try to do it in a green drink or a supplement. But a diet full of variety that’s rich with a lot of different colors is going to have the biggest health payoff.”

For more information:

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.