Spirulina is perhaps not as much of a household name in the superfood world as chia seeds or kale, but it is packed full of so much goodness that it is ideal to add to a plant-based diet. You’ll definitely be getting a good helping of nutrients with it, as spirulina contains more than half of the essential nutrients the body needs. Found in both fresh and saltwater, it is a type of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae that has been a source of food since the 17th century.
A dietary supplement that is cultivated worldwide, it is a whole food and is rich in proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
10 Health Benefits of Spirulina
Here’s what you were looking for! Spirulina boasts a whole host of health benefits so it truly earns the title of ‘superfood’.
1. Super High in a Wide Range of Nutrients
You are getting so much bang for your buck, when it comes to this superfood. In just one tablespoon of dried spirulina powder, which is about seven grams, you get:
- Protein: 4 grams
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 11% of the Recommended Dietary Allowance
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 15% of the RDA
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 4% of the RDA
- Copper: 21% of the RDA
- Iron: 11% of the RDA
- Decent amounts of magnesium, potassium and manganese and small amounts of almost every other nutrient that you need.
2. Powerful Antioxidant Properties
If too much oxidation happens in the body it can cause serious damage of the cells, it even has the potential to lead to chronic illness. Which is why it is so vital to find foods that are high in antioxidants in order to combat free radicals, as well as protect your cells. This is where spirulina comes in; it is absolutely packed with antioxidants and as a result is effective in reducing lipid peroxidation, and helps dampen oxidation in general and inhibit inflammation too.
3. May Reduce High Blood Pressure
The cause for many concerning health conditions, like heart attacks, strokes, even chronic kidney disease, high blood pressure is definitely something we need to be aware of and have a handle on. Studies have shown that a steady inclusion of spirulina into the diet can be affective in reducing blood pressure. If you include a daily dose of at least 4.5g of spirulina into your regime, a reduction of systolic and diastolic blood pressure has been shown. Mostly likely due to the increased production of nitric oxide, which helps the blood vessels dilate and relax.
4. May have Anti-Cancerous Properties
One of the deadliest and most terrifying diagnosis, cancer is unfortunately something that can and has affected everyone, one way or the other. So it is never a bad thing to include foods in our diet that have been shown to have some possible anti-cancerous properties. Spirulina has the potential of reducing cancer occurrence and tumor size, according to study conducted on animals. The way spirulina does this is by activating immune cells that which help defend against tumors. It appears to be particularly effective on a certain type of oral cancer.
5. Can help Lower “Bad” Cholesterol
With heart disease being the leading cause of death in the world, it is very important to find ways to minimise the risk. It turns out the spirulina could be one way of doing just that. An increase of this algae in your diet can have a positive impact, lowering the “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and in fact increasing the “good” HDL cholesterol. A study conducted on people with high cholesterol determined that the inclusion of 1 gram of spirulina per day decreased “bad” cholesterol levels by 10.1% and lowered triglycerides by 16.3%.
6. Assist in the Support of your Immune System
The large number of vitamins and minerals that are found in spirulina can only be a good thing. Maintaining a healthy immune system is completely paramount, and using spirulina to give your body the boost could be a great option, with its abundance in vitamins and minerals. According to research, spirulina has the potential to boost immunity by increasing positive antioxidant activity and by impacting immune variables in your body. It could even attack viruses and bacteria by helping with the production of white blood cells.
7. Could provide Allergy Relief
Due to its high content of antioxidants, it is also possible that spirulina can have an anti-inflammatory effect. As a result, people with allergies caused by pollen, dust or animal hair could be helped with the addition of spirulina in their diet. Specifically regarding Allergic Rhinitis, it has become a rather common treatment alternative. There have been studies conducted that suggest that spirulina is effective in this, as its use seems to reduce, in no small way, common symptoms like sneezing, itching and nasal congestion and discharge.
8. May help Blood Sugar Control
Dealing with the symptoms of diabetes can be very difficult and could lead to other issues. Spirulina seems to also have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. First tested on animals, this blue-green algae is linked to a significant drop in blood sugar levels. Studies suggest that with the incorporation of spirulina to the diet, an impressive reduction of blood sugar levels could also be effective on humans. More studies, though, need to be conducted to ensure its efficacy in the long run.
9. Potentially Effective Against Amenia
Affecting approximately 25% of the global population, there are many different types of anemia, each with their own symptoms and treatments. The most common one, however, is the type where you have little hemoglobin or red blood cells in your blood. One study does link the ingestion of spirulina supplements and increased the hemoglobin content of red blood cells and improved immune function. It should be noted this is one study, conducted on people over 40, so more research needs to be done.
10. Could Enhance Muscle Strength and Endurance
When you’re working out, you can cause oxidative cell damage in your body and thus cause your muscles to fatigue. Which is why it is so important for us to ingest foods that contain antioxidants. As mentioned before, spirulina is a natural algae that contains massive amounts of antioxidants. As a result it makes it a good addition to an exercise regime, as studies suggest that it could enhance and strengthen muscles and even increase the time it takes you to fatigue while working out.
What are some ways I can include spirulina in my diet?
As spirulina comes in tablets, as well as powder, there are a few ways to incorporate it into your diet. The simplest way is probably simply taking the tablets, like any other supplements you might take. However if spirulina powder is more your thing, here are a couple of ways to include it into your meals:
- Add to a smoothie! A spoonful with your favorite smoothie ingredients and you’ll be having a nutrient rich drink. It’ll give it a cute green color too!
- Stir it into a cup of water or juice and soak up all the goodness
- Sprinkle on salads or soups, giving them a lovely earthy flavor
- Incorporate into a energy ball or health bar for a pre or post-workout snack