What about a “sea vegetable” to complement your diet? I have been taking spirulina for 2 months now, and I am feeling the difference in my overall health. I am quite physically active so in constant need of energy and spirulina has helped me overcome fatigue. But there is so much more to spirulina than boosting my stamina. I wanted to find out more about it and share with you the great health benefits of spirulina. I had heard about it but didn’t know it was so powerful!
What is spirulina algae?
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in both salt and fresh waters. Because it is full of rich nutrients and antioxidants, it was part of the ancient Aztecs’ diet and it has been consumed as food in Central Africa and Mexico for centuries.
Considered now as a superfood, it is widely commercially produced as a dietary supplement in the form of powder and tablets for many health benefits.
Why is spirulina seaweed considered a superfood?
Spirulina is now among the world’s most favorite food supplement because it is very nutritious and complete. It is HIGHLY loaded with protein, vitamins and minerals. It is a great protein food source substitute to vegetarians, vegans and fitness addicts!
Moreover, I love the fact that it is ecologically friendly because it requires less land and water to make energy and protein than livestock farming.
Due to the fact that spirulina is so nourishing, NASA even suggested that it could be farmed and used by astronauts in space as a dietary support in long-term space flight or Mars missions.
Let’s give a look at its super nutritional profile!
7g (1TBS) of dried spirulina holds only 20 calories and contains:
- Proteins: 4.02g
- Carbohydrates: 1.67g
- Calcium: 8mg
- Fats: 0.54g (omega 9, omega 3 and fatty acids)
- Iron: 2mg
- Sodium: 73mg
- Magnesium: 14mg
- Potassium: 95mg
- Phosphorous: 8mg
- Vitamin C: 0.7g
It also contains thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3) and some small amounts of other needed nutrients: (vitamins B6, K, folate, beta carotene)
So YES spirulina taken as part of a balanced diet, surely helps stay well-fed and nourished! It might even be the most wholesome food on the earth.
What else? The protein in spirulina is as excellent as the one found in eggs, providing all the essential amino acids needed. It is full of polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants.
Health Benefits of Spirulina
- Control your blood sugar levels!
2018 researches found that spirulina significantly decreases blood sugar levels in people with type 1 and 2 diabetes.
In a study, 25 people with type 2 diabetes that consumed 2g of spirulina daily, considerably reduced their blood glucose levels only after 2 months.
- Lower your bad cholesterol!
Recent studies claim that taking 1 g of spirulina daily may significantly lower unhealthy “LDL” fat (bad cholesterol) present in the blood (blood lipids) after 3 months and increase the good “HDL” cholesterol.
Bad cholesterol is responsible for several illnesses such as heart disease, the world’s number 1 cause of death.
- Lower your blood pressure!
If spirulina may help reduce cholesterol in the bloodstream, it is not surprising that it may also lower the blood pressure.
Hypertension (high blood pressure), like bad cholesterol, increases the risk to get heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease.
Spirulina’s antioxidant effect increases the blood flow and the release of nitric oxide, a gas molecule that enables blood vessels to widen and relax. Your heart doesn’t have to work as hard.
However, studies show that only a higher dose of spirulina, 4.5g a day, has an effective impact on high blood pressure. 1g is not enough.
- Boost up your metabolism and manage your weight!
Like all protein-rich foods, spirulina contains an essential amino acid called l-phenylalamine which acts as a natural appetite suppressant.
This super nutritious food is also very low in calories (20 calories per tablespoon). It is therefore a great source of nutrients to introduce to your diet when you are trying to control and support your weight loss.
In a 2014 study, people consumed 6g of spirulina daily and it resulted in boosting their metabolic rate and losing weight.
When our metabolism is higher, we have more energy and we burn more calories which aids with weight loss.
- Enhance your endurance and muscle strength!
First hand, better blood flow has a great impact on our endurance! Think how harder it is for your heart to pump blood when you exercise?!
Secondly, the powerful antioxidant properties found in spirulina help improve muscle strength and enhance endurance by minimizing exercise-induced oxidative damage.
Oxidative stress is a major cause to muscle failure and fatigue.
Studies on athletes showed that it took the participants more time to experience fatigue when taking spirulina.
- May lower the risk of cancer
As seen above, spirulina is a great source of antioxidants that can protect against oxidative damage.
This disturbance can harm cells, DNA and proteins and can cause chronic inflammation which can stimulate cancer progression and other diseases.
Also, some studies especially done on oral cancer indicate that spirulina may help prevent against cancer and reduce tumor size.
- Reduce your allergies!
I have environmental allergies and since I take spirulina supplements, I no longer have allergic rhinitis. I used to constantly have a runny nose and sneezing. What a relief!
A 2013 study claims that spirulina has anti-inflammatory fighting properties that reduce histamine in the body and thus relieve nasal inflammation.
- Boost up your immune function!
Phycocyanin is the antioxidant that gives spirulina its blue-green color and is the main active component that has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. It gives our immune cells an added dose of protection and helps us fight a cold.
Also, a study done on 40 older people that suffer from anemia resulted in boosting their immune system and increasing their hemoglobin levels after taking spirulina supplementation for 12 weeks.
Anemia makes you feel tired and weak because it is a disease in which you lack enough red blood cells that carry out the oxygen needed for your organs to function properly. Your red blood cells count is too low.
- Flush out your toxins!
Spirulina’s antibacterial and antitoxin properties may help prevent pollutant heavy metal poisoning. (mercury, arsenic, lead, iron). It contains proteins and peptides that neutralize the toxins and flush them out of the body, stopping them from being absorbed into the bloodstream.
Spirulina is such a powerful detoxifier and biosorbent that it has been tested to be used as a natural water filter.
It is great news to countries where the risk of drinking from contaminated water is very high.
- May prevent yeast infections and support gut health
Just like spirulina gets rid of harmful toxins, it also is a magnet for bacteria like candida, flushing it out of the body and preventing reoccurring yeast infections. In the same manner, it also brings balance to the overall digestive system.
- Support your mental wellbeing!
People suffering from anxiety, depression or mood disorder have reduced levels of serotonin, the key hormone that impacts our well-being and balances our mood.
Spirulina has a high source of tryptophan, an amino acid that enables serotonin production in the brain.
Taking spirulina’s supplements may help stabilize serotonin levels and may support mental health.
How to take spirulina?
You can buy spirulina in the form of powder, flakes or dietary supplements.
As a powder, you can add it to your fruit juices, sprinkle it on your salads or soups, mix it to your smoothies etc…
1-3 grams is a standard daily dose but doses up to 10 grams have been used by researchers.
I take 2g per day in the morning with my breakfast before I workout.
Are there any risks or side effects?
The majority of people tolerate spirulina and it is considered safe to supplement your diet by the FDA (the United Sates Food and Drug Administration), otherwise it wouldn’t be sold in pharmacies.
However, if you suffer from a certain health condition, it is wise and recommended to ask your doctor before taking a new dietary supplement, to check if there is any risk of drug interactions.
I make sure to buy mine 100% organic and from trusted brands to avoid spirulina that has been contaminated with harmful toxins because grown in a wild body of water polluted with bacteria and heavy metals.
This is what I have learned from my research: spirulina is a power house of nutrients and it is probably THE most complete and most excellent source of proteins and vitamins on the planet!
It is a cyanobacteria and if consumed daily, it does wonders to your health. I am seeing its healthy impact on myself. As I have mentioned earlier above, it boots up my energy levels. It is great to know that it also helps protect my heart, lower my bad cholesterol and balance my blood sugar.
It is surely a great health investment and in the long term, it will pay off!
Please, do not hesitate to share your own experience and thoughts below on this subject!
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