The Benefits of Spirulina
Renata Trister DO
Spirulina is a blue green microalgae that grows in waters of subtropical climates. It is a type of cyanobacteria (cyano – blue pigment) that can be consumed as a superfood. Spirulina is has countless uses as a supplement for maintaining good health and preventing diseases. This is because it contains a plentiful supply of many important nutrients and antioxidants, including protein, complex carbohydrates, iron, and vitamins A and K, as well as B complex. It’s also rich in chlorophyll, fatty and nucleic acids, and lipids. Spirulina is rich in gamma-linoleic acid, or GLA, a compound found in breast milk that helps develop healthier babies. In fact it is often referred to as “Nature’s Multivitamin”. This is a breakdown of some of spirulina’s most significant benefits and nutrient composition.
Spirulina contains powerful carotenoids such as best-carotene and yellow xanthophyll. It is one of the richest beta-carotene foods. The beta-carotene found in spirulina is ten times more concentrated than in carrots.
Spirulina is rich in iron, magnesium and trace minerals and is easier to absorb than iron supplements. And without the common side effects of iron supplementation. Ten grams of spirulina can supply up to 70% of the minimum daily requirements for iron.
About 60% of Spirulina’s dry weight is protein, which in the form it comes in within spirulina, is essential for growth and cell regeneration.
Spirulina suppresses bad bacteria like E. coli and stimulates beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobactria in the digestive tract to promote healthy digestion and proper bowel function.
Healthy flora is one of the foundations of good health. It increases the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from the foods we eat and helps protect against infection.
Spirulina has a completely unique composition of phytonutrients, including chlorophyll, phycocyanin and polysaccharides, that can help to purge toxins from the body. In 1994, a Russian Patent was awarded for spirulina, deeming it a medical food for reducing allergic reactions from radiation sickness. This was a result of 270 children in Chernobyl consuming five grams a day for 45 days. Radionuclides were lowered by 50% and allergic sensitivities were normalized.
Spirulina has been demonstrated to have cardiometabolic benefits – improving glycemic, lipid and blood pressure parameters. In a double-blind placebo controlled trial, overweight patients with hypertension were randomly allocated to receive 2g of Hawaiian spirulina daily for 3 months. The subjects that received spirulina exhibited a reduction in systolic blood pressure and some reduction in BMI (Body Mass Index).
Spirulina also has a favorable effect on cholesterol.
A meta-analysis also showed that spirulina reduced plasma concentrations of total cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides.
Spirulina contains Vitamin E, selenium and tyrosine, which are all known for their powerful anti-aging effects. The antioxidants present in spirulina can aid in skin healing and support.
Adding 1-2 teaspoons of spirulina to your daily diet can be very beneficial. Try adding some to your smoothie or simply sprinkle a teaspoon into coconut water.