We’re often told to eat our greens, but why are they so important? One reason is they actually provide us with energy converted directly from the sun.
How Does It Work?
Plants, algae, and certain bacteria are able to convert sunlight into sugars they can use for energy through the process of photosynthesis. Chlorophyll is vital for photosynthesis because it’s the molecule that directly captures light energy.
That energy is converted into the compound adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which is then transported and stored throughout the organism. The ATP is later broken down in a chemical reaction with carbon dioxide and water in order to create glucose for food.
Animals are not able to photosynthesize because we have no natural chlorophyll. We need to eat food to get the building blocks for our bodies to make ATP for energy.
But a 2014 study published in the Journal of Cell Science discovered this is not the whole story. When animals consume chlorophyll, it gets digested into a variety of metabolites that accumulate in our cells.
And researchers found the chlorophyll metabolites retain their ability to absorb light.
They also demonstrated that light can penetrate into animal tissues. The chlorophyll metabolites appeared able to capture this light and help create more ATP.
In addition, worms fed a chlorophyll-rich diet increased their life span by 17 percent.
How Coenzyme Q10 Fits into the Picture
Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) is a vitamin-like substance found in every cell of the body. It’s produced by your body and it’s one of the building blocks your cells use to create ATP.
It is also a powerful antioxidant that can protect your body against cellular stress, as well as assisting with digestion and other bodily processes.
Your CoQ10 levels naturally start to drop after age 20. It’s thought that losing the protective effect of this coenzyme may be one reason why we age. Many people take CoQ10 supplements for its reported health benefits, such as reducing migraines, boosting energy, and fighting cancer.
A study from the Peking University discovered that chlorophyll metabolites also help your body produce more CoQ10.
Some of the CoQ10 will be used to create ATP, and the rest will be available to support your bodily functions and overall health.
Foods That Are High in Chlorophyll
There are many reasons to make sure you get enough chlorophyll in your diet. Chlorophyll has been linked to many health benefits, such as detoxification, improving liver function, and preventing chronic inflammation.
All green vegetables contain chlorophyll. Some examples include:
- Any leafy greens, such as collards, arugula, parsley, lettuce, or kale
- Brussels sprouts
- Green cabbage
- Green beans and peas
- Green peppers
- Green olives
- Sea vegetables
Alfalfa is recognized as having one of the highest amounts of chlorophyll.
Keep in mind that chlorophyll can sometimes be destroyed by heat. For instance, one study found that 19 to 100 percent of chlorophyll was retained in food depending on the type of vegetable and the cooking method. Green peas seemed to retain chlorophyll the best when boiled, whereas leeks lost the most.
Cooking time also seems to matter. In general, the longer the cook time the more chlorophyll you’ll lose.
Although it’s been shown your absorption of chlorophyll may increase when you steam vegetables for a very short time.