Spirulina is one of the world’s most nutrient dense foods. It is a form of algae that grows in fresh water all over the world in warm-weather locations. Though it has an intense flavor that can overpower a smoothie and may be too strong for some, it is also so loaded with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that calling it a superfood doesn’t really do it justice.
What is Spirulina?
At its most basic, spirulina is a plant that has been dried. It can be purchased as a powder or flake to be dissolved onto foods or into liquids, but it is also available as a tablet and used as an ingredient in energy bars and green juice packets. Spirulina is not only rich in vitamins and minerals, but also in enzymes, phytonutrients and cofactors that are more easily and effectively absorbed than those found in nutritional supplements or multi-vitamins.
Spirulina is grown in Africa and Asia, as well as in Mexico, California and Hawaii. There are records of the Aztecs relying on spirulina as their primary source of protein, and its amazing nutritional profile has led the United Nations to recommend it as a solution for areas of the world that are struggling with malnutrition.
1. Spirulina is One of the World’s Highest Quality Sources of Protein and Other Nutrients
In addition to having the highest concentration of protein of any known food, spirulina is also intensely rich in some of the vitamins that are most important to human health, and which have been most linked to long life. It has all 8 essential amino acids and 18 amino acids in total, as well as an antioxidant called phycocyanin that has been linked to the production of stem cells and chlorophyll, which is one of the most effective detox compounds in the world. A 1-ounce serving of spirulina contains:
Calories – 81
Protein – 39 grams
Fiber – 1 gram
Omega-3 fatty acids – 230 mg
Omega-6 fatty acids – 351 mg
Copper – 85% of RDV
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – 60% of RDV
Thiamine (Vitamin B1) – 44% of RDV
Iron – 44% of RDV
Manganese – 27% of RDV
Niacin (Vitamin B3) – 18% of RDV
Magnesium – 14% of RDV
Potassium – 11% of RDV
Pantothenic Acid – 10% of RDV
Vitamin K – 9% of RDV
Vitamin E – 7% of RDV
Folate – 7% of RDV
Vitamin B6 – 5% of RDV
Vitamin C – 5% of RDV
Zinc – 4% of RDV
Vtamin A – 3% of RDV
Phosphorous – 3% of RDV
Calcium – 3% of RDV
Selenium – 3% of RDV
Unlike other food sources that are compared to spirulina, this nutritional powerhouse is completely digestible and does not require mechanical processing. In addition to the nutrients listed above, it is also a rich source of phytonutrients, beta-carotene and antioxidants.
2. Spirulina is a Great Weight Loss Food
If you are trying to lose weight, it is important that you make sure that you’re getting plenty of nutrients into your body to make up for the calories that you’re cutting. Not only does Spirulina deliver the vitamins and minerals that your body needs, but it is also such a high-quality food that it helps to keep you from getting hungry and feeling a lack of energy that can lead to binging on low quality food. Additionally, because Spirulina has so much protein, your body needs to use more calories to digest and metabolize it. This burns more fat.
Bottom Line: By eating a nutrient dense food like Spirulina while you’re dieting, you make sure that your body is getting the nutrients you need while boosting your body’s metabolism.
3. Spirulina Strengthens Your Immune System
Studies have shown that Spirulina has a powerful impact on the body’s production of antibodies, as well as other cells that boost the immune system and proteins that fight infection. These responses not only fight infection, but have also been shown to prevent some forms of cancer. A study out of the Czech Republic showed that it is rich in a compound that stops tumor growth, while international studies have determined that people whose diet is rich in spirulina have a lower incidence of HIV/AIDS. Some studies have shown that a diet rich in Spirulina has kept those already infected with the HIV virus stable and decreased their viral load.
In addition to these important findings, other studies have shown that Spirulina helps restore the healthy balance of bacterial flora in the intestines, keeping several illnesses responsible for several funguses and infections from being able to grow.
Bottom Line: A diet that includes Spirulina will help to protect you from cancer, infection, and many viruses.
4. Spirulina Contains Numerous Anti-Inflammatory Compounds that Ease Pain and Reduce Cellular Damage
Spirulina reduces inflammation in the body in numerous ways. It has been shown that it reduces the impact of allergies and sinus infections, decreasing nasal congestion, itching and sneezing that can make people’s lives chronically uncomfortable. One of the reasons for this anti-inflammatory impact is that Spirulina is one of the few food sources that contain GLA or Gamma Linolenic Acid, which is a powerful Omega-6 fatty acid that has the unusual characteristic of reducing inflammation instead of increasing it. Some studies have shown that GLA protects DNA from damage caused by oxidation. It may be useful for the treatment of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, ADHD, eczema and acne, menopause symptoms, and breast cancer.
Bottom Line: Spirulina’s high levels of GLA point to it being a potent anti-inflammatory food that can help reduce symptoms of numerous uncomfortable and serious conditions.
5. The High Quantity of Chlorophyll in Spirulina Makes It a Powerful Detoxifying Agent
Chlorophyll has been shown to bind to heavy metals, removing them from the blood. Because Spirulina is one of the most chlorophyll-rich foods in the world, it is highly recommended for those who have been exposed to lead in their environment, as well as those undergoing radiation therapy. One study showed that people who are suffering from arsenic toxicity can cut their toxic levels by half by taking 5 grams of Spirulina and a Zinc supplement each day.
Bottom Line: For those who are concerned about heavy metals in their environment, eating Spirulina or taking a Spirulina supplement provides a high level of confidence that the toxins are being removed from your system.
6. Spirulina Can Cut Cholesterol and Blood Pressure, Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke
Spirulina contains compounds that can provide valuable protections against heart disease and stroke. The algae has high levels of a pigment called phycocyanin that has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which is linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A study showed that those who ate Spirulina regularly lowered their levels of bad cholesterol, even if they were eating a high cholesterol diet! This could not only mean a reduced risk of heart attack or cardiovascular disease, but also a reduced risk of stroke.
Bottom Line: Consumed on a regular basis, Spirulina can have a positive impact on the key factors that contribute to heart disease and the risk of cerebral hemorrhage.
What You Need to Know About Buying and Using Spirulina
Not only does nutrient-rich Spirulina provide you with all the protective and recuperative impacts listed above, it also gives people who use it regularly with a big boost of energy. When looking for Spirulina, make sure that you are choosing an organic version that is sure to be clean and free of contamination or additives that can make this healthy food cause more harm than good.