What Is Spirulina And What Are Its Health Benefits?

by OkayHealthy

Spirulina is a dietary supplement derived from sea algae that is valued for its incredibly high vitamin, mineral, and protein content, as well as its powerful antioxidant effects.

Because of the “superpower” properties, it is found in many superfood green drinks.

It’s been studied for use in fighting cancer, allergies, high cholesterol, and for fighting inflammation. It’s even been used by NASA as a nutrient-rich source of sustenance for astronauts on space flights.

What exactly is spirulina?

Spirulina is a natural “algae” (cyanbacteria) powder that is incredibly high in protein and a good source of antioxidants, B-vitamins and other nutrients. When harvested correctly from non-contaminated ponds and bodies of water, it is one of the most potent nutrient sources available.

It is largely made up of protein and essential amino acids, and is typically recommended to vegetarians due to its high natural iron content.

The high concentration of protein and iron also makes it ideal during pregnancy, after surgery, or anytime the immune system needs a boost.

Here are 5 evidence-based health benefits of spirulina.

1. Cleansing & Detoxification.

The benefits of spirulina include outstanding detoxification properties that are so important these days because of the number of toxins that we’re being exposed to from our environment. Spirulina has the unique ability to bind to toxins and eliminate them from your system.

When you put your body under extreme stress, such as intense physical training, toxins and free radicals are released from your tissues. The chlorophyll in spirulina helps eliminate these waste products, and cleanses your liver, kidneys and blood. Well-functioning liver and kidneys are critical to the overall function of every part of your body.

This cleansing effect is also important if you’re on any sort of low-carb diet (Atkins diet, South Beach diet, etc.). These types of diets can place a heavy burden on the liver and kidneys, due to the increased elimination of excess ketones that occurs.

2. Losing weight

People can usually lose weight if they eat fewer calories than they use. Spirulina is a high-nutrient, low-calorie food that contains a lot of nutrition in a small amount of powder. Introducing spirulina to the diet may help people lose weight without losing nutrition.

The results of a 2016 double-blind placebo-controlled trial suggest that spirulina may aid weight management. In the study, people who were overweight and regularly ate spirulina for 3 months showed improved body mass index or BMI.

3. Powerful Antioxidants

Antioxidants are powerful substances that protect our cells from damage. Thanks to decades of research, many of us understand the importance of consuming enough antioxidants from natural sources, and spirulina is a great choice.

The antioxidant that makes spirulina unique is called phycocyanin, which is a potent anti-inflammatory.

This Spirulina was tested by an independent laboratory and found to have an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) of over 24,000 which is 4x the ORAC score of blueberries. The ORAC score is generally used to measure antioxidant ability and concentration in different foods.

4. Enhances Immune System

Spirulina stimulates the immune system by increasing the body’s innate immunity defenses by activating the production of macrophages, T-Cells, and Natural Killer cells. Spirulina promotes cell regeneration which helps the body recover quicker from illness.

Several animal and human studies have shown that Spirulina supports immune function. In particular, it has been shown to promote innate (inborn) immunity, the body’s first line of defense. It is also important in the regulation of antibody production (acquired immunity). Spirulina has been shown to inhibit production of IgE and modulate inflammation. Recent studies also show that Spirulina promotes IgA production in the saliva thereby inactivating foreign bodies and toxins found in foods.

5. Lowering cholesterol

Taking spirulina extract may help to lower cholesterol levels. Cholesterol is an unhealthful fat in a person’s blood that medical experts link to heart disease.

A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that taking spirulina supplements may have a positive impact on blood lipids, which are fats in the blood. In the study, spirulina was found to significantly reduce total cholesterol and lower LDL — “bad” — cholesterol while increasing HDL — “good” — cholesterol.

A 2013 study also supports this health claim. Researchers found that taking 1 g of spirulina every day reduced the participant’s total cholesterol after 3 months.

Are there any side effects of spirulina?

Spirulina also contains salt. One 7g tablespoon contains 73mg of sodium which counts towards 3% of the Nutrient Reference Value for adults. If you know salt is an issue for you, or you have high blood pressure then always check with your GP before supplementing. Others who should check with their GP before taking spirulina include those taking prescription medication, pregnant or breastfeeding women and anyone younger than 18.

Those with the condition called phenylketonuria (PKU) should avoid spirulina completely as it contains an amino acid called phenylalanine which they cannot metabolise, as should anyone with an autoimmune condition such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus or multiple sclerosis.

Always make sure you buy spirulina from reputable brands or sources, as there has been concern in the past that it can be contaminated with toxins from bacteria known as cynobacteria.

Best 3 Organic Spirulina Powder Brands:

Below are three of the safest high-quality brands of Spirulina:

Pure Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica Powder

Nutrex Hawaii Pacifica Spirulina Powder

Pure Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica Powder is probably the most well-known brand of Spirulina in the United States. It is the number one best seller on Amazon and is grown naturally in Kona, Hawaii. The Spirulina is organic and kosher, suitable for vegans and vegetarians (all brands make these claims but these are natural functions of blue-green algae). The brand has been in operation for over a decade. It is grown with sea water and is non-GMO project verified. It has received excellent reviews and provides brilliant quality Spirulina at a great price. The price does tend to fluctuate wildly on Amazon as it sells quickly and is provided by multiple different distributors through Amazon.

Zhou Nutrition Spirulina

Zhou Nutrition Spirulina is another top quality Spirulina brand that has been in operation for quite a long time. Zhou claims that it always provides the highest quality Spirulina on earth, which may be somewhat overblown, but it definitely does provide an excellent quality of the algae. Zhou Nutrition Spirulina is non-GMO project verified, non-irradiated, halal, gluten, pesticide and herbicide free. It uses a closed loop water and nutrient recycling process to produce the product which is safe, efficient, and ensures maximum nutrient content. The farm is located in Southwest California. The water is reported to be mineral rich and it is far from potential contaminants, such as airports, highways and cities (which should be on your radar when it comes to finding Spirulina). This really is a great product at a great price.

Earthrise Spirulina Natural

Earthwise Spirulina Natural

Earthrise Spirulina Natural is a fantastic and slightly cheaper alternative to the ones listed above, with great reviews on Amazon. It is not listed as organic like the other two brands, but it is herbicide and pesticide free. It is ecologically cultivated in California sunshine and is non-GMO project verified. Earthrise is touted as the best-tasting brand of Spirulina on the market and I can vouch for that. I love this spirulina!

If you want to get the most benefit from an organic Spirulina brand, these three are among the best available.

Disclaimer: The information contained here is intended for informational and educational purposes only.
For medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, consult a medical practitioner. We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

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1 comment

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