by Lina Stoyanova
Spirulina is incredibly healthy. At the end of this article, you will be able to see why it’s one of the few “superfoods” that is actually worthy of the term.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a natural “algae” (cyanobacteria) powder that is incredibly high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. When harvested correctly (from non-contaminated ponds and bodies of water), it is one of the most potent nutrient sources available. Spirulina grows naturally in a few alkaline lakes around the world and has been harvested for thousands of years. The Aztecs and Mayans harvested it from lakes in the Central and South American regions. It is still grown and harvested in the wild in Chad (Central Africa).
Spirulina contains all of the essential amino acids and essential fats, along with complex carbohydrates, fibre, a wide range of vitamins and minerals including antioxidants, carotenoids (especially lutein) and nucleic acids. Spirulina contains Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA), Omega 3s (3, 6 and 9) which is why it’s viewed as anti-inflammatory. Spirulina is also one of the few foods to have a natural GLA content.
Arthrospira platensis, when dried, contains an average total protein content of 60%, but can range anywhere between 50-70% depending on the quality. It is one of the highest protein-rich foods, and as mentioned, includes all the essential amino acids (compounds that are the building blocks of proteins). This makes Spirulina a complete protein source and optimal for good health. Each gram of Spirulina has four times more absorbable protein than the same gram of protein found in red meat. In addition, the Arthrospira species do not have cellulose walls which make its protein content and other nutrients more digestible (and bioavailable) when consumed.
What are the Benefits of Spirulina?
Spirulina is the most nutrient dense food on the planet. No, really, it is. The concentration of protein and vitamins in Spirulina are astounding when compared to any other food gram for gram. These benefits come with only 20 calories and 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrate.
To put this in perspective, it means by comparable weight, Spirulina has 3900% more beta carotene than carrots, 375% more protein than tofu, 300% more calcium than bovine (cow’s) milk, and lastly, 2300% more iron than spinach.
With access to the internet, you can also conduct your own research and even look up ways to incorporate Spirulina into your daily life, should you wish. My personal favorite is to make a Spirulina latte and/or a smoothie (depending on the weather). According to research and different studies compiled, here are some important takeaways:
• Spirulina is extremely high in many nutrients; it’s a type of blue-green algae that grows in both salty and fresh water. It’s considered by many to be the single most nutrient-dense food on the planet.
• Spirulina has powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties; Phycocyanin is the main active compound (powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory).
• Spirulina can lower LDL and Triglyceride Levels; Spirulina also protects LDL Cholesterol from becoming oxidized (fatty structures in the body can become oxidized which drives the progression of many diseases—the antioxidants in Spirulina can prevent that from happening).
• Has Anti-Cancer Properties; Research conducted shows it can reduce cancer occurrence and tumour size. Spirulina has particularly been studied with regard to oral cancer.
• Reduces Blood Pressure; Doses of 4.5 grams per day have been shown to reduce blood pressure in individuals. This is thought to be driven by an increased production of nitric oxide, a molecule that helps the blood vessels relax and dilate.
• Improves Allergies; Helps with environmental allergens, pollen, animal hair and even wheat dust. Many studies show Spirulina supplements are very effective against allergic rhinitis, helping reduce many symptoms.
• Helps Improve Muscle Strength and Endurance; According to research, Spirulina has been shown to be very beneficial in improving muscle strength and endurance. Research also shows it also helps prevent damage to muscles through exercise.
In conclusion, Spirulina’s health benefits are undeniable. Upon doing your own research, should you wish to try Spirulina, check out recipes online to see how you can enhance your smoothie or even your next latte.
To name a few benefits:
• Vitamin B1
• Calcium: 26 times higher in calcium than in milk*
• Vitamin A, C, D, and E
A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried Spirulina powder contains a breakdown as follows:
Protein: 4 grams
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 11% of the RDA
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15% of the RDA
Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4% of the RDA
Copper: 21% of the RDA
Iron: 11% of the RDA