Algae is Good for You and Good for the Planet
- Jan 13, 2021
- Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
New Mindset. Algae is no longer gross. It's good for you.
The New Mindset in 2021 shifts our focus from supporting the immune system to REJUVENATING the immune system! I love this new paradigm shift! Food is information for our body, and two ways to rejuvenate the immune system include eating more Phytonutrients and other nutrient-dense foods.
Phyto = Plants (Including Algae)
Phytonutrients are the compounds within plants that keep them healthy and protect them from nature, and there are over 25,000 of them! Phytonutrients are able to speak to the plant’s immune system, and they can promote rejuvenation within the plant. Within the human body, phytonutrients work in a similar way and interact in all sorts of amazing ways with the cells of our bodies.
Algae as Food
When you set out to eat more greens in your diet, I suspect algae isn’t at the top of your list – but don’t discredit it!
Green algae get its bright green color from chlorophyll, which is critical for photosynthesis, and the most important biological compound needed for a plant to live and thrive. It only makes sense for humans to eat more of this beneficial pigment. Blue-green algae contain both chlorophyll and phycocyanin (blue pigment).
Here are three of my top algae choices because they are full of chlorophyll, create an alkaline environment in the body, contain unique phytonutrients, and provide nutrition that supports a variety of functions within the body, including support of the immune system.
Amazing Algae #1: CHLORELLA
Phytonutrients in Chlorella: Sporopollenin
Sporopollenin makes chlorella an excellent choice for liver detoxification. It is fantastic for bonding to metals, chemicals, and even some pesticides to support the body’s normal detoxification processes.
Unique Quality: Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF)
Chlorella has a unique ability to grow faster than any other plant on earth, and this is due to a substance it contains called CGF, which is programmed into its DNA. CGF is a concentration of amino acids, glycoproteins, B-vitamins, and other nutrients and is the most potent natural source of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. Humans can benefit from CGF at a cellular level, which is huge for overall health and immunity.
More About Chlorella
- The highest chlorophyll (green pigment) content of all known plants.
- A plant source of vitamin B12 and protein.
- High in lutein, an essential nutrient for the eyes
- Supports healthy flora in the microbiome
How to Use Chlorella Powder
A teaspoon a day is all you need. Chlorella powder tastes nice when mixed into water with a little lemon, blended into a green smoothie, or mixed with other beverages, like coconut kefir.
Amazing Algae #2: SPIRULINA
Phytonutrients in Spirulina: Phycocyanin, Phenolic Compounds, Carotenoids, including Zeaxanthin and Beta-carotene
Unique Quality: Detoxification
Both chlorella and phycocyanin, the blue pigment in spirulina, are excellent for supporting healthy liver and kidney detoxification. This is so important in 2021 because our environment and food system are full of toxins and heavy metals, which negatively affect health.
More About Spirulina
- High in chlorophyll (green pigment) and phycocyanin (blue pigment)
- Protein makes up 60 to 70% of spirulina’s dry weight.
- Contains B12, making it a great choice for vegans.
- The cyanobacteria promote the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the intestines.
- Supports the body’s ability to make immune cells. This is rejuvenation!
How to Use Spirulina Powder
Start with 1 teaspoon and increase to 1 tablespoon or more over time. Simply mix it into your daily juice or morning smoothie. Adding the sweetness of fruit like bananas, pineapple, and mango to your drink, which does a nice job balancing spirulina’s strong flavor. For a chocolate spin, try this Chocolate Strawberry Spirulina Smoothie.
Spirulina can also be added to desserts, such as raw chocolate brownies or truffle-style energy treats often made with pureed dates, nuts, coconut, and other natural ingredients. As a hot beverage, try this Toasted Coconut Spirulina Latte.
Amazing Algae #3: NORI
Phytonutrients in Nori: Phycoerythrin, Beta-carotene
Unique Quality: Umami flavors
Nori is a type of red seaweed and is the only natural food that contains all three Umami flavors in Japanese cuisine: glutamic acid (“Umami” flavor mainly contained in kelp), inosine acid (also “Umami” flavor contained in dried bonito flakes), and guanylic acid (another “Umami” flavor contained in shiitake mushroom broth). Nori contains all three.
More About Nori:
- One of the highest sources of iodine found in nature.
- Rich in vitamins C, A, B6, B1 (Thiamin), B2 (Riboflavin), and folate.
- About ⅓ of nori consists of dietary fiber and prebiotics, which benefit the microbiome.
How to Use Nori
Nori sheets are used to make sushi or other types of wraps, such as this Nori Sprout Roll-Up. Nori can be chopped up and added to a broth, or used as “flakes” sprinkled as a garnish on vegetable, chicken, and salmon dishes or salads.