From chlorophyll pills to cholrophyll energy bars, the green pigment has been indicating up in all sorts of products lately. You may recollect from high school biology that chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis, the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy. So why is it abruptly appearing in our foods? Is it actually a super-nutrient worth seeking outor simply a pas fad? Here are a few things to know about the chlorophyll craze.

Chlorophyll is touted for a number of perks

Proponents say it detoxifies the body, promotes mending, boosts metabolism, opposes bad breath, herpes, and cancerand the list goes on. While the evidence behind these claims is largely anecdotal, there is some research on the added benefit of chlorophyll. For example, one 2014 study looked at 38 overweight women who were following a weight-loss plan. The researchers found that over the course of 12 weeks, the individuals who took a chlorophyll supplement once a day lost three additional pounds, on average, compared to those taking a placebo. The women in the chlorophyll group also experienced a greater decrease in LDL( or “bad”) cholesterol, and a reduction in sweet cravings. Other research has suggested that chlorophyll may have antioxidant properties.

It’s worth noting that many of the other studies to date have involved intravenous or topical chlorophyll.

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There are some unknowns about chlorophyll

Since chlorophyll hasnt been studied extensively, there’s no established optimal dosage, or a recommended style to devour it. Some of the research has been conducted with compounds derived from chlorophyll, rather than the pigment in its whole formwhich entails the same outcomes may or may not occur if you have chlorophyll in its natural form.

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Supplements may cause side effects

While chlorophyll supplements are held somewhat safe, there are a few interactions you should be aware of. For instance, they may increase your sensitivity to sunlight. So you should probably skip them if you’re taking any drugs that have the same effect( such as certain antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines, blood pressure, and cholesterol meds ). There have also been some reports of nausea, digestive problems, and allergic reactions.

Chlorophyll comes in many forms

Chlorophyll is abundant in dark green leafy vegetables( suppose spinach, kale, and mustard greens ), as well as other green render like Brussels buds, broccoli, green buzzer peppers, asparagus, green cabbage, kiwi, green apples, and herbs like parsley. In other words, you dont need a special supplement to include chlorophyll in your diet. Simply adding more green plants to your meals will ensure you’re get plenty of chlorophyll.

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How you eat your greens makes a difference

Cooking chlorophyll-rich foods, especially for longer durations of time, seems to lower their chlorophyll levels. Storing them in the freezer for several months can have a similar impact. So to best conserve the chlorophyll content of your greens, eat them raw or use short, light cooking techniques, like steaming or low-heat sauteing.

If you do decide to try a new chlorophyll product, be sure to read the ingredient listing, and try to steer clear of artificial additive, and potentially risky herbs or stimulants. But most importantly, keep on eating( and drinking) your greens!

Cynthia Sass is Health s contributing nutrition editor, a New York Times best-selling writer, and consultant for the New York Yankees. Watch her full bio here .

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