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Chlorella Vs. Chlorophyll

by
author image Kristen Unger
Kristen Unger is a Doctor of Physical Therapy student specializing in geriatric physical therapy. Before entering physical therapy school, she attended Virginia Tech, majoring in human nutrition, foods and exercise. She also completed a handful of graduate-level courses addressing various topics in biomedical engineering while at Virginia Tech. Her writing addresses health and fitness concerns for a wide range of medical conditions.
Chlorella Vs. Chlorophyll
Pond with chlorella Photo Credit Hopfphotography/iStock/Getty Images

Chlorella and chlorophyll are often confused due to their similar-sounding names and the similar health claims associated with both. Chlorella is a green algae that contains chlorophyll, a compound found in green plants that is crucial to the process of photosynthesis. Both are associated with a wide range of unproven health claims, ranging from digestive health and cancer prevention to curing serious conditions such as multiple sclerosis. While chlorella and chlorophyll both have health benefits, they may not be as extensive or extreme as some claim.

Chlorella Basics

Chlorella is a single-celled green algae found in bodies of fresh water and contains high concentrations of nutrients such as vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin B complex and iron. The algae also contains a high amount of protein and can produce healthy oils high in polyunsaturated fats. Used as a health supplement for a wide range of conditions, the algae is thought to treat viral and bacterial conditions, cleanse the body and protect against conditions such as diabetes, cancer and arthritis. Some cultures also believe that the algae can reverse the aging process if consumed in large enough quantities.

Chlorella Health Benefits

Despite the extensive list of health claims associated with the algae, there is no definitive evidence affirming that chlorella can effectively treat cancer or any other disease in humans. Some studies, however, have shown that chlorella powder may act to inhibit the growth of cancer cells in cell cultures and animals, but no investigatory studies have been performed in humans. A protein extracted from a specific type of chlorella may also slow the growth of cancer in mice and lessen the negative effects of chemotherapy, but this effect also has not been investigated in humans. Finally, no evidence exists to support the theory that chorella improves the human immune system, although people deficient in certain nutrients do benefit from consumption of the algae.

Chlorophyll Defined

Chlorophyll is a photosynthetic pigment present in green plants that absorbs light energy and uses it to produce carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water. Chlorophyll is crucial to the process of photosynthesis, which is responsible for sustaining the life process of green plants. There are multiple types of chlorophyll in plants; chlorophyll A is the form that makes photosynthesis possible in green plants, while chlorophyll B and C are present in plants but are not involved in photosynthesis.

Chlorophyll Health Benefits

Very little research has been performed on the health benefits of pure chlorophyll, primarily due to its expense and the difficulty involved in purifying it. But chlorophyll does have anti-mutagenic properties that may prevent early inflammatory changes in the development of cancer, and could even prevent cancer in animals. Despite these promising findings, it is important to remember that modern scientific research does not support many of the health claims associated with the consumption of pure chlorophyll.

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