Spirulina: The Super Food
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is cultivated around the world, and can be found as a dietary supplement in powder, flake or tablet form. In 1977, The United Nations World Food Conference called Spirulina the “best food for the future.”
It is believed the history of Spirulina goes back as far as the 9th century in Chad (where it is still popular today), and Spirulina was also consumed by the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans until the 16th century. Today, most Spirulina is cultivated in “open-channel raceway ponds” in the United States, Thailand, India, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Burma and Chile.
If you can’t find 100% pure Spirulina at your local grocery store, you should be able to track down a bottle at most organic stores.
What Makes Spirulina Super?
Spirulina packs a massive nutritional punch, with more vitamins and minerals in a teaspoon than most foods can provide in full servings! One teaspoon of Spirulina includes 100% Vitamin A, up to 72 % Protein, 25% of your good Carbohydrates, 13% of your daily Mineral intake, and 10% fiber. With about 10 calories per serving, Spirulina isn’t likely to break your daily calorie intake either.
Spirulina contains up to 77% protein by dry weight, and this protein is a complete protein (which legumes, eggs, meat and milk pale in comparison too).
Essential Amino Acids
Spirulina is rich in a variety of essential acids including Histidine (27mg), Isoleucine (95 mg), Leucine (151 mg), Lysine (89 mg), Methionine (39 mg), Phenylalanine (75 mg) Threonine (83 mg), Tryptophan (22 mg), and Valine (105 mg).
Non-essential acids are also found in Spirulina, including: Alanine, Arginine, Aspartic Acid, Cystine, Glutamic Acid, Glycine, Proline, Serine, Tyrosine
Vitamins and Minerals
One teaspoon of Spirulina powder is equivalent to 3 to 4 servings of vegetables, containing unbelievably high levels of many vitamins, including 100% Vitamin A, 25% Vitamin K and 45% of Vitamin B-12. It also contains smaller amounts of Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, and Vitamin B-6.
Minerals found in Spirulina include: Calcium, Iron, Phosphorus, Iodine, Magnesium, Zinc , Selenium, Copper, Manganese, Chromium, Potassium, and trace amounts of Sodium.
Spirulina also contains chlorophyll-a, xanthophyll, beta-carotene, echinenone, myxoxanthophyll, zeaxanthin, canthaxanthin, diatoxanthin, 3′-hydroxyechinenone, beta-cryptoxanthin and oscillaxanthin, phycobiliproteins c-phycocyanin and allophycocyanin.
The Benefits of Spirulina
Research has shown that Spirulina supports the immune system and healthy inflammatory responses. It has also been proven to support heart health, brain health, and protect against “oxidative stress.”
More specific research has cited Spirulina as effective in the treatment of Anemia, heart damage from chemo, recovery from strokes (and reducing the severity of), correcting abnormal carbohydrates, treatment of melanosis and keratosis due to arsenic poisoning, reducing hay fever (and possibly other allergies), reducing inflammation from arthritis, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and even preventing HIV cells from replicating.
Compared with the Popular Chlorella
Spirulina as been proven to be more digestible than Chlorella, and contains the blue protein phycocyanin. Though both are good for detox and cleansing, Spirulina has been recognized as safe through scientific procedures by the FDA, which is a status that Chlorella does not enjoy.
Using Spirulina & Safety
The Phenylalanine in Spirulina should be avoided by people who have the metabolic disorder phenylketonuria. This is the only known potential danger of Spirulina. You may also prefer to purchase Spirulina that has been cultivated in the U.S., since imported strains are usually considered more prone to containing toxins.
You can purchase tablets if they better fit your lifestyle, but powders often contain slightly higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals. One of the most popular ways to use Spirulina is in a juicer or smoothie recipe. Our personal favorite is a mix of pineapple, banana and kiwi (or berries) processed in a food processor, and then blended with coconut or almond milk and ice.
Spirulina will turn a smoothie bright blue/green, but cannot be tasted at all when mixed with blended fruit. Utilizing Spirulina in a fruit smoothie will also add the benefit of several servings of fresh fruit to your diet!