If you’re into health foods and supplements I’m sure you’ve heard about Spirulina. Do you know anything about it? Well, today I wanted to share a few things about this superfood and why you should add some into your diet.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue green algae (cyanbacteria) that grows in both fresh and salt water. It is hugely nutrient dense with high protein, antioxidants, and vitamin values per serving. Spirulina contains phycocyanin, which gives it a blue green color, but also fights free radicals, decreases inflammation, and also has antioxidant effects. For vegans and vegetarians this supplement can provide an excellent source of all the essential amino acids the body needs as well as a decent supply of iron.
There is also a substantial amount of chlorophyll in spirulina which helps the body eliminate heave metals and toxins. Rich in the essential fatty acid gama linolenic acid (GLA) this supplement has powerful anti-inflammatory potential.
In 1 tablespoon of spirulina powder one can get
- 4 grams of protein,
- 11% of the recommended daily average (RDA) for iron and vitamin B1,
- 15% of the RDA for vitamin B2,
- A nice amount of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, and omega 3 fatty acids.
Health Benefits of Spirulina
Several studies have been done on spirulina and many are promising. The following are some of the potential benefits of consuming this superfood daily:
- Lowers LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and triglycerides and increases HDL (“good” cholesterol)
- One study showed that 1 gram of spirulina per day could decrease LDL by up to 16.3%
- Has shown positive anti-cancer properties, particularly with oral cancer
- Possible decrease in blood pressure (at doses of 4.5 grams per day)
- This is accomplished by increasing nitric oxide production which leads to the relaxation and dilation of blood vessels; therefore, decreasing blood pressure.
- May improve muscle strength and endurance and overall energy levels
- May help alleviate the fatigue, cramps, bloating, and mood swings associated with PMS
- May help control blood sugar
- Enhances the immune system
- Improves skin elasticity resulting in less fine lines and wrinkles
- GLA in the product helps fight inflammation, improves eczema, and adds extra shine to hair
- Helps remove heavy metals and toxins resulting in clearer skin and brighter eyes
- May be used to reduce the runny nose, sneezing, nasal congestion, and itching associated with allergic rhinitis.
Safety and Caution
Spirulina is a fairly safe supplement to use but always consult with your doctor if you have concerns or certain health issues. The most common side effect of this supplement is stomach upset and that is typically at doses greater than 4 grams. The safety of spirulina in pregnancy is unknown. Also, individuals with seafood allergies may want to utilize caution as spirulina has the potential of causing allergy symptoms.
The one warning that users should heed is knowing where your spirulina comes from. Typically spirulina harvested from the waters around China and Japan have shown to contain lead and other harmful chemicals. Do your best to avoid products that harvest their spirulina from these areas.
How to use it
This superfood comes in powder form and in pill form as well. If you purchase the pill simply follow the directions on the packaging. If you purchase the powder the most common way to consume this product is to add it to a smoothie.
Spirulina does have a rather “ocean” like scent and taste to it. I would advise you to start off using 1-2 teaspoons with your smoothies or juices at first to get used to the flavor. Some individuals add spirulina to their hummus, pancake mixes, and to their energy ball recipes (check out the recipe for energy balls on my Instagram page and add 1 teaspoon spirulina to the recipe for an extra health kick)
You can easily find Spirulina in health food stores like Whole Foods or in places like the Vitamin Shoppe. It is not cheap but one small bottle will last at least a month with regular use.
Do you have any suggested uses for Spirulina? Any stories on how it has helped you? Leave your messages below.