Benefits of Spirulina: Everything You Need to Know About This Superfood
Dietary supplements contribute so much to vegan and vegetarian diets. And if you happen to be into one of these plant-based eating patterns, spirulina surely rings a bell.
Spirulina, or “pond scum” as others call it, is a type of cyanobacteria or blue-green algae that grows in both fresh and saltwater. It has a high nutritional value as it produces half—or more –of the essential nutrients needed by the body through photosynthesis, making them worthy of the “superfood” title.
Sure, it’s healthy. But for some, especially newbies, only little is known about this superfood. So, if you have spiraling thoughts about spirulina, this is a great time to learn why you should try (and love) this miracle from the sea!
What do you get from Spirulina?
With spirulina as a superfood, you might be wondering what nutrients it does contain. Surprisingly, here are the vitamins and minerals you’ll get in just one tablespoon (7 grams):
- 20 calories – 4g of protein
- 11% of the RDA of Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- 15% of the RDA of Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
- 4% of the RDA of Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- 21% copper
- 11% iron of the RDA
- Decent amounts of magnesium, potassium, manganese, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and small amounts of other nutrients that your body needs
Spirulina is, indeed, rich in B-vitamins and is a good source of protein and iron, making it ideal for vegans and vegetarians. To add, the protein content in spirulina is excellent—comparable to eggs—as it provides all the essential amino acids you need. A little goes a long way, right?
Also, some even claim that spirulina contains vitamin B12, but studies show that it’s only pseudo vitamin B12 and is non-absorbable.
Aside from its high nutrient content, spirulina also has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect you against the damages caused by oxidative stress. Phycocyanin, its main active compound, is responsible for this, and it helps keep you away from catching infections and chronic diseases.
With that said, spirulina can relieve certain inflammations in our body, including allergic rhinitis. Research from 2013 states that spirulina can decrease histamine in the body and reduce its symptoms, including runny nose, sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion.
Apart from allergies, this superfood has pre-workout and post-workout benefits, too! According to some studies, spirulina may increase endurance and muscle strength and treat muscle damage from exercise, which is vital for athletes and physically active individuals.
Speaking of exercise, did you know that spirulina can also help you lose weight? A randomized trial for overweight people was held, and it showed that those who regularly took spirulina for three months had an improved body mass index. It is because of its low-calorie content that aids in weight management without losing nutrition.
Another reason to love this dietary supplement is that it lowers bad cholesterol, reduces blood pressure, and helps control blood sugar levels, which are all drivers of many serious diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, and diabetes. Studies have shown that a dose of 8 grams per day can significantly lower bad cholesterol while 4.5 grams per day can reduce blood pressure in people with normal levels.
For diabetic people, a daily intake of spirulina may help balance the blood sugar level and may even be as good as—or outperform—other medications for diabetes.
Spirulina, even in small amounts, really does wonders to your body. After all, it’s not called a “superfood” for no reason.
But like other supplements, it has limitations and requires few precautions. Pregnant women and people with phenylketonuria, autoimmune disorders, and other medical conditions should first consult their doctors to prevent any harmful side effects.
Thinking of introducing spirulina to your diet? Get started by taking it in capsules or mixing powdered spirulina products to your favorite dish or smoothie!