The Aztecs discovered spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, thousands of years ago and soon made it a staple in their diet. Now days, spirulina is considered a “superfood.” The bright green color of spirulina indicates it is full of antioxidants and also contains many elements necessary for a healthy functioning immune system and nervous system. Give it a try!
11 Health Benefits of Spirulina
1. Spirulina is rich in protein. In fact, amino acids make up 62% of spirulina and provide 4 grams per 1 Tablespoon.
2. Spirulina is high in B-vitamins: vitamins B-1 (thiamine), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (nicotinamide), B-6 (pyridoxine), B-9 (folic acid).
3. Spirulina is high in other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, and selenium.
4. Spirulina contains gamma linolenic acid, an essential fatty acid. It has amazing anti-inflammatory properties especially when taken with other quality Omega-3 supplements.
5. Spirulina can be used for increased exercise performance. In one study, taking spirulina for 4 weeks was associated with a significant increase in exercise performance and fat oxidation.
6. Spirulina has potent antioxidant activity, particularly phycocyanin and beta carotene—antioxidants that can help protect cells from damage.
7. Spirulina was clinically effective on managing allergic rhinitis through its anti-inflammatory and/or antioxidant properties.
8. Dried spirulina contains 8 mg calcium per 1 Tablespoon serving, which is more than raw spirulina.
9. Spirulina contains chlorophyll which is used for “detoxification” by helping remove toxins such as heavy metals and other pollutants from the blood.
10. Spirulina is often alternated with chlorella for detoxifying the body.
11. The very high concentration of bioavailable iron makes it excellent during pregnancy and for those with anemia.
How to Eat Spirulina
When choosing Spirulina, make sure to choose a product that is organic, as others can have nitrate compounds as additives.
Some common ways to take Spirulina include:
- Add spirulina to a smoothie or fresh juice
- Add spirulina to a small amount (1/4-1/2 cup) of organic apple cider
- Mix spirulina with organic applesauce
- Simply mix spirulina into water and drink it straight, though many people have trouble with this. Some would go as far as saying it tastes horrible! You can decide for yourself. If you ask me, the nutrition punch spirulina provides makes it worth it!
How Much Spirulina
Recommendatins vary, but start with a small amount of Spirulina, maybe ½ tsp. at a time and slowly increase your intake until you are eating 2 teaspoons per day. Take more—2 or more tablespoons—during illness, after radiation exposure, or during pregnancy.
If you have an autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus, you should avoid spirulina. Theoretically, it could stimulate your immune system and make your condition worse.
What are your favorite ways to incorporate Spirulina into your life?
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
1. Kalafati M, et al. Ergogenic and Antioxidant Effects of Spirulina Supplementation in Humans. Med & Sci in Sports & Ex. 2009 DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181ac7a45
2. Spirulina. University of Maryland Medical Center.
3. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference; Seaweed, spirulina, dried