Chlorella and spirulina – eat your algae
When most people think of algae they probably think of the green substance that grows on the sides of aquariums or the kind that grow at the bottom of the ocean. This isn’t the most appetizing image so you probably don’t think that algae belongs on your plate, but recent research suggests that they do. Several types of algae like spirulina and chlorella have caught the national nutritional spotlight and for good reason.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is a nutritional powerhouse that is a complete protein, meaning that it contains all essential amino acids. For vegans and vegetarians looking for a protein alternative, listen up, one cup of spirulina contains 64g of protein. It contains over 100% of your daily requirement of iron and vitamin B1 and 10-30% of your requirement for vitamin A, C, E and calcium. It also contains larger amounts of magnesium, potassium, and zinc. There are too many vitamins and minerals to list so you can check it out for yourself here. In addition to being nutrient dense, according to the Journal of Medicinal Food, spirulina has:
- antioxidant properties
- reduces inflammation
- may protect against heart by lowering cholesterol
- may protect against liver disease
The Journal of Cellular and Molecular Immunology suggests that spirulina supplements can improve anemia and improve immune function, but while beneficial to healthy adults it is a point of caution for those suffering from autoimmune disorders. Some literature also touts spirulina as a B12 supplement for vegans, but the type of B12 contained in spirulina is not bioavailable and thus can’t be processed by our bodies. Women who are breast feeding, those affected by the condition phenylketonuria, and anyone taking prescription medications (including blood thinners) should be cautious when taking these supplements and should consult their doctor before adding spirulina to their diet.
Chlorella is spirulina’s brighter, greener, algae sister. Like spirulina, chlorella is a protein powerhouse, with 100g containing 58g of protein. It contains vitamins and minerals that are complementary to spirulina including over 1000% vitamin A and over 100% of zinc, iron, vitamin B1 and B3. Another article published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggests that chlorella can:
- help reduce total body fat percentage
- lower cholesterol
- lower blood glucose levels
The Journal of Toxicological Sciences suggests that chlorella can help eliminate mercury from your body, which is good news to those of us who love swordfish and tuna. And unlike spirulina, chlorella has bioavailable B12 and can be used as a supplement for my vegan friends out there. Like spirulina, those with autoimmune diseases, are breastfeeding, have an iodine sensitivity, or anyone taking prescription medications (including blood thinners) should be cautious when consuming chlorella and consult a doctor first.
Chlorella and spirulina are both algae and when grown in natural environments they can be exposed to environmental toxins. So it is important to consider the source of your supplement when buying spirulina and chlorella tablets or powder. The brand Health Ranger Select offers organic chlorella and spirulina, non GMO, lab verified tablets. So kick off your 2017 with a healthy dose of some algae!
H/T: The Tennessean