Spirulina: Why you should consider adding this algae to your diet
While consuming algae may not sound especially appetizing, the health benefits associated with Spirulina may influence one to do so. Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows naturally in warm, fresh bodies of water around the world. It is also grown commercially and harvested to be sold as a dietary supplement. Spirulina has existed for centuries, yet has only recently started gaining popularity amongst health care professionals including Registered Dietitians. It has become thought of as a “superfood” due to its high concentration of vitamins, minerals, protein, and antioxidants as well as its natural ability to help aid in detoxification.
Nutrient composition of Spirulina:
Spirulina is a rich source of protein, with just 1 tablespoon of the dried powder containing 4 grams of protein and providing all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It is also rich in B vitamins, including the bioavailable form of vitamin B12 which is of particular importance to vegetarians and vegans who often have difficulty obtaining this nutrient. Spirulina also contains the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin E as well as the minerals manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium. Additionally, it is a good source of the essential fatty acid gamma linolenic acid.
Health benefits associated with consuming Spirulina:
Immune support by increasing the production of antibodies and infection-fighting proteins to help ward off infection and chronic illnesses associated with poor immunity
Anti-viral effects by inhibiting replication of viruses including herpes simplex, influenza, measles, mumps, and HIV. Some studies even suggest that Spirulina extracts may become a form of therapy the help treat AIDS patients
Anti-inflammatory properties which help to protect against diseases such as arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease
Protects against cardiovascular disease due to its lipid-lowering effects
Protects against oxidative stress by working as an antioxidant to savage free radicals and thereby reduce the toxic load in the body
Supports heavy metal detoxification. Animal studies have shown positive effects of Spirulina in alleviating damage associated with lead, and human studies have demonstrated spirulina extract in combination with zinc to treat patients with arsenic poisoning
Anti-cancer properties by inducing death of cancer cells
Spirulina is available in many forms and can be purchased online or over the counter at most health food stores in capsule, flake, and powder forms. It is recommended to purchase a trusted and preferably organic brand to limit exposure to unwanted contaminants. The beneficial effects of spirulina vary depending on dosage, with dosing recommendations depending on the condition being treated. Despite it’s many health benefits, though, it is important to note that not even this seemingly “superfood” can outweigh an otherwise unhealthy diet and it will not magically solve all health ailments. Rather, consuming spirulina as part of an overall healthy lifestyle will produce the most positive health results.
Want a delicious recipe to begin including spirulina into your diet? Try this mega green and nutrient -rich smoothie:
Serves 1 generous portion
2 cups kale or spinach
½ frozen banana
1 small green apple (or ½ large)
1/2-3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (more or less depending on desired consistency)
1/2 of an avocado
3 pitted dates
2 tablespoons protein powder of choice
1-2 tsp Spirulina powder
Add all ingredients into a blender and mix well. Pour and enjoy!
What are your thoughts on Spirulina? Feel free to share your comments.