The Benefits Of Spirulina (and How to Make the Most of It)

This alga has gained popularity as a dietary supplement due to its rich nutritional profile and potential health benefits

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By Rachel

spirulina

Spirulina is a micro-algae scientifically known by the name of Arthrospira (Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima). It lives in clear water in sub-tropical areas. It has a blue-green colour and a spiral shape, which is the origin of its name, spirulina.

Since ancient times, these algae has been used as food source and the many benefits of spirulina were well known among many different civilizations. They grew in Lake Chad, and can be traced back to the Aztec era. Spirulina used to be mixed in the bread and buns eaten by the people of Central and Western Europe for a long time.

But let’s find out something more about the health benefits and ways to use this algae.

What’s spirulina and why it can benefit you

Like all algae, it has many nutritional benefits making it a perfect addition to your diet. One of the peculiarities of spirulina is that it is rich in biliproteine. This protein is generated during digestion of the algae and in this form is easily assimilated by the body.

Other vitamins to be found in spirulina include: beta-carotene, which is good for the eyes, B vitamins, which protect the nervous system, heart and bones, vitamin D, which protects the immune system and strengthens bones, vitamin E which is an antioxidant and good for our immune system and vitamin K which fights osteoporosis, celiac disease and Crohn’s disease.
Actually, the only vitamin it doesn’t contain is vitamin C.

It should be said that the amount of vitamins it has is quantitatively comparable to those present in milk and meat.

Spirulina also contains calcium spirulan, which seems to have anticancer and antiviral properties. It has been used as a cure for children with cancer and for victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. Scientists, however, have still not come to any firm conclusions about its curative properties. In Belarus an experiment was conducted to determine the ability of spirulina to fight nuclear radiation. Scientists found indices of reduced radioactivity in urine following administration of this alga for about 20 days.

Other research has shown that spirulina, in particular its aqueous extract, may decrease or even prevent the recurrence of the virus HIV-1. However, this research is very news and a result of few studies that have not yet arrived at a conclusion shared by the entire scientific community.

Top 10 benefits of spirulina

While individual responses to this substance can vary, some commonly reported benefits of spirulina include:

  • Nutrient-Rich Superfood: Spirulina is a highly concentrated source of nutrients. It contains a variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, including B vitamins, iron, potassium, and beta-carotene.
  • Protein Source: It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids. This makes it a valuable protein source, especially for vegetarians and vegans.
  • Antioxidant Properties: This substance contains antioxidants like phycocyanin and beta-carotene, which can help neutralize free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a role in protecting cells from damage.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Some studies suggest that it may have anti-inflammatory properties, which could be beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body.
  • Support for the Immune System: This specied of algae has been reported to enhance the activity of natural killer cells and other components of the immune system, potentially contributing to immune health.
  • Detoxification: It has been proposed to have detoxifying effects, helping to eliminate heavy metals and toxins from the body. However, more research is needed to fully understand this aspect.
  • Cholesterol Management: Some studies have suggested that it may help lower LDL cholesterol levels and increase HDL cholesterol levels, contributing to heart health.
  • Blood Sugar Regulation: There is evidence to suggest that it may have a positive impact on blood sugar levels, potentially benefiting individuals with diabetes or those at risk of developing diabetes.
  • Weight Management: It may contribute to weight management by promoting a feeling of fullness and potentially influencing metabolic processes. However, more research is needed in this area.
  • Eye Health: The presence of beta-carotene in this alga may support eye health and vision. Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining healthy eyes.
spirulina
Organic spirulina pills.

 

Where to find it

The alga Spirulina is marketed in different forms, already mixed with other foods, pure or in the form of powder, flakes, tablets or gel capsules.

The most practical way to take in this element is in its tablet form. You should take about 6 to 9 tablets daily which corresponds to the recommended daily dose ranging from 3 to 4.5 grams of spirulina. It is always bets, however, to read the instructions and take advice from an experienced herbalist. Check that the tablets do not contain external ingredients, but only 100% pure spirulina.

Some recipes with spirulina

Finally, here are some yummy food recipes based on spirulina. As we may have hinted, it is a versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into a variety of recipes to boost the nutritional content. Keep in mind that it has a distinct taste, which can be somewhat earthy or seaweed-like, so it’s often best to start with small amounts and adjust to your taste preferences.

Here are some recipes you can try:

Spirulina Smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 1 cup water or almond milk

Instructions:

Simply bend all ingredients until smooth.

Spirulina Energy Bites

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

Mix all ingredients, form into small balls, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Spirulina Avocado Toast

Ingredients:

  • 2 slices whole grain bread
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional toppings: cherry tomatoes, radish slices, or a poached egg

Instructions:

Mash the avocado, mix in spirulina, and spread on toasted bread. Add toppings as desired.

Spirulina Salad Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Whisk together all ingredients until well combined. Drizzle over your favorite salad.

Spirulina Guacamole

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina powder
  • 1/2 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Mash avocados, mix in spirulina and other ingredients. Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping for tacos.

Spirulina pâté

Ingredients:

  • the juice of half a lemon
  • a teaspoon of olive oil
  • a teaspoon of spirulina powder or flakes
  • a teaspoon of soy sauce
  • 1 clove of garlic.

Preparation:

Grind together spirulina and garlic, and then add the lemon juice and soy sauce. Then mix everything into a paste and pour in the olive oil. You can consume the paté on crackers or spread it on toast with chopped tomato and onion. It is a tasty and healthy, guaranteed!

An remember! Feel free to experiment with the quantities to suit your taste preferences. Spirulina can be a versatile and nutritious addition to a variety of dishes.

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