Chlorophyll is a plant pigmentation that doesn’t typically absorb green light waves, making it appear green to the naked eye. It allows plants to perform photosynthesis, or convert solar energy into usable food stores. A variety of plants consumed by both animals and humans contain chlorophyll, including green, leafy vegetables and many plants that turn green before they become fully ripe. Many foods with chlorophyll often have a slightly bitter flavor, but combine well with richly-flavored meats and generally provide a wealth of health benefits.
Leafy greens are among the easiest foods with chlorophyll to identify. Darker greens, like spinach and kale, usually contain more chlorophyll than pale greens, like butter lettuce and romaine. Basil, parsley, mint, dandelion greens, and thyme may also be good sources of chlorophyll. All of these greens can typically be incorporated into salads, steamed veggie mixtures, sandwiches, and even fruit smoothies. In those drinks, the sweetness of the fruit often hides the bitterness of these greens.
Some veggie tops not only contain chlorophyll, they contain flavor. Green chives and fennel tops feature spicy and licorice flavors, respectively. They also contain moderate amounts of green pigment. Celery leaves, turnip greens, and Swiss chard are also among the foods with chlorophyll that contain plenty of flavor. Cooks that want to add flavor and nutrients to their recipes might try adding these leafy tops into the cooking pot.
Partially ripe, still-green veggies make up another category foods with chlorophyll. Green beans, green bell peppers, green olives, broccoli, and green peas all fall into this category. Some green beans ripen into yellow beans, while green bell peppers eventually turn red. Green olives usually turn black or purple with age, and broccoli blooms with purple flowers if allowed to ripen. Green peas sometimes turn yellow, though a few varieties remain green for their entire growth cycle.
The acid, bitter flavor often featured in foods with chlorophyll may be unpleasant to some, but can be overshadowed when these veggies are paired with other foods, like beef, fish, potatoes, and heavily marinated chicken. Sauces and dressings may also complement the bitterness, leading some cooks to use these green veggies as a counterpoint for very rich or sweet flavors, such as Hollandaise sauce or fruit vinaigrettes. Many cooks also use these pigment-rich foods in vegetable medleys, creamy soups, and stewed dishes.
Adding chlorophyll to one’s diet may provide more health benefits than just the vitamins and nutrients in the veggies themselves. Research shows that chlorophyll may help strengthen the immune system, repair and prevent cell damage, fight free radicals, and even combat body odor. Those that want to experiment with these benefits might try taking chlorophyll supplement capsules under the direction of a health care professional.