Like all trends, everything that was once old is new again, and that’s especially true for foods. The hot “new” foods are usually ones that have already have a rich history as a nutritious food source, but are just now getting their moment in the spotlight. Prime example? Spirulina.
This blue-green algae has been around for centuries as a food source. It was eaten by the Aztecs during Spanish rule and now it’s a popular supplement that you can find at any grocery store or juice bar.
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in bodies of water naturally. Picking a brand of spirulina is
crucial to getting the most nutritious. Remember some areas of the world are much more polluted than others, so knowing your source is important. My pick for spirulina is Pure Hawaiian Spirulina. This bottle will actually last you a long time too!
Top 9 Spirulina Benefits
1. Helps Prevent Cancer
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “A number of animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.”
When tested on human pancreatic cells, these researchers discovered that, “Compared to untreated cells, experimental therapeutics significantly decreased proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro in a dose-dependent manner.” Essentially, this proves that consuming spirulina can help prevent developing various cancers!
2. Detoxes Heavy Metals (especially Arsenic)
Affecting people all over the globe, chronic arsenic toxicity is a problem. According to the World Health Organization, the United States is one of the countries affected by inorganic arsenic that is naturally present at high levels.
In fact, up to 3% of the entire nation of Bangladesh showed clinical signs of arsenic poisoning alone! As Bangladeshi researchers pointed out, “there is no specific treatment” for arsenic poisoning, which is why they evaluated alternatives like blue-green algae.
After giving 24 patients affected by chronic arsenic poisoning spirulina extract (250 mg) plus zinc (2 mg) twice daily, they compared the results with 17 patients who took a placebo and found that the spirulina-zinc combination worked wonderfully. Ultimately, the participants experienced a 47% decrease of arsenic in their body!
3. Eliminates Candida
According to researchers, “Candida species belong to the normal microbiota of an individual’s mucosal oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina.” What does that mean?! Well, without a healthy microflora balance in our body, we are simply much more susceptible to sickness and disease.
In fact, leaky gut syndrome and improper digestion are directly connected to microfloral imbalance. Not only is invasive candidiasis the leading cause of mycosis-related death in the United States, candida overgrowth has become the hallmark sign for most autoimmune diseases today.
4. Lowers Blood Pressure
Phycocyanin is a pigment found in the spirulina that scientists have discovered possesses antihypertensive effects (it lowers blood pressure). (14) Japanese researchers claim that this is because consuming the blue-green algae reverses endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome.
I find this extremely promising for Americans because metabolic syndrome has rapidly become one of the main causes of preventable disease today, as it raises one’s risk of developing heart disease, diabetes and stroke.
5. Reduces Cholesterol
A recent animal study published in The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology took rabbits, fed them a high cholesterol diet (HCD) containing 0.5% cholesterol for four weeks, and then fed them a HCD with 1% or 5% spirulina for an additional eight weeks.
After the eight-week trial was complete, LDL levels decreased by 26% in the group eating 1% of spirulina and 41% in the group eating 5% spirulina, which heavily suggests that the more we eat the more benefits we will receive! Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol were also significantly reduced. YIPPEE!!!
6. Lowers Chance of Stroke
In the study above, researchers also discovered that the spirulina supplementation lowered intimal aorta surface by 33% to 48%, which suggests that it can prevent atherosclerosis and subsequent stroke.
It’s important to remember that this clinical trial was conducted on animals that were still eating a HCD, and it highlights that regular spirulina consumption can literally reverse the damage done by eating a poor diet. You can only imagine the heart health benefits that would be experienced in those individuals who have a balanced diet!
7. Boosts Energy
When you look at the chemical composition of spirulina, it’s no wonder that people who regularly consume it have an abundance of energy. I actually read that you can combine 1 tsp spirulina powder with 12 oz lime juice and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays for a healthy boost. Spirulina and lime enhance energy performance because they unlock sugar from our cells and, when frozen, the cold from the ice boosts metabolic energy while giving our bodies a “wake-up call.” Definitely worth a try!
8. Speeds Up Weight Loss
Diets high in nutrient-dense protein-rich foods like spirulina promote weight loss and low-fat stores. It can also curb hunger and overweight people seem to benefit the most. To maximize this benefit, try eating your high protein spirulina in the morning or during midday instead of at night.
9. Alleviates Sinus Issues
Spirulina benefits the body by reducing the inflammation that causes people to experience sinus problems, according to numerous studies. Spirulina is effective at reducing itching, nasal discharge, nasal congestion and sneezing.
This is an easy ways to add blue-green algae or Spirulina to your diet. But the taste can take a little getting used to with flavor descriptions range from “refreshing” to “sludgy.” Start slow and get used to the flavor. Then, gradually start adding more to your recipes.
Some ideas where to add spirulina:
– Smoothies and smoothie bowls: All you have to do is add a serving of algae powder to the blender. It tastes best in smoothies with other strong flavors such as cacao or cocoa powder, nut or seed butter, and/or protein powder.
– Salads: Sprinkle a little on your salad. A strong dressing, like one with fresh lemon juice, will help mellow out the taste. Algae is more savory, so add-ins like nutritional yeast or grated Parmesan will play on the slight cheesy quality and boost the flavor of your salad.
– Protein/Power/Bliss balls: It’s kind of like playing the lottery, except the jackpot is the nutritional boost. They’re simply a combination of dried fruit, nut, and seeds. Look on pinterest there are a ton of recipes. Add a bit of algae to balance out the sweetness.