Spirulina is a type of algae that has many health benefits because of its nutrient profile and powerful antioxidant properties. Spirulina is among the world’s most popular supplements.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that has a lot of protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, and antioxidants. This type of fish is typically found in warmer climates, Maryann Walsh, a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator based in Palm Beach, Florida, says.
Spirulina antioxidant levels are high because of its flavonoids and polyphenols, like phycocyanin, according to her. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 1 teaspoon of spirulina contains:
- 5 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 1 gram of carbohydrates
- 1.08 milligrams of iron
- 30 milligrams of potassium
- 0 milligrams of cholesterol
- 0 milligrams of sodium
How to Use Spirulina
The taste of spirulina is mostly neutral, with a slight bitterness that some people find. This is according to Keri Gans, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in New York City.
She recommends adding spirulina powder to your favorite smoothie, sprinkling it into salads and soups or mixing a spoonful into your morning oatmeal as a way to add more nutrients to your diet.
You can drink it straight by stirring it into a glass of juice or water.
Health Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina is a type of algae that has many health benefits, including heart health, blood pressure, and weight loss. Is it really able to do all of the incredible things that people say it can? Yes.
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria that is rich in nutrients. Here are some potential health benefits associated with spirulina.
1. Heart Health
A 2018 study in the journal Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy found that spirulina supplements can help lower levels of total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglycerides significantly.
This study found that consuming 1-19 grams of spirulina per day for 2-48 weeks had a favorable effect on cardiac measures.
A separate study found that blue-green algae can help improve blood lipid profiles, prevent inflammation and oxidative stress, and protect against cardiovascular disease.
The health benefits of spirulina for the cardiovascular system are thought to be due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Gut Health
Though the amount of research is limited, what is available is promising regarding spirulina’s impact on gut health. The study showed that probiotics may help preserve gut function and a healthy gastrointestinal microbial community during aging.
Spirulina has properties which allow good bacteria to flourish, and that in turn helps improve gut health. Studies are promising but more research needs to be done.
3. Cholesterol Management
Spirulina can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of harmful LDL cholesterol while increasing levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, according to Jamie Hickey, a registered dietitian and certified personal trainer based in Philadelphia.
The aforementioned study suggests that consuming spirulina can help improve your cholesterol levels.
Spirulina is a supplement that can be taken daily to help lower triglycerides and LDL levels. In a study, participants who took 1 gram of spirulina per day for 12 weeks lowered their triglycerides by 16% and LDL by 10%.
Other studies have shown that taking spirulina supplements can lower levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides while raising HDL (good) cholesterol.
It can, for instance, bring down an individual’s complete cholesterol, LDL (terrible) cholesterol, and triglycerides, while in addition expanding HDL (great) cholesterol.
One review indicated that spirulina was effective in improving several markers related to metabolic syndrome and similar disorders. (the “bad” cholesterol that can clog arteries). A 2014 study found that people with high cholesterol who took 1 gram of spirulina per day had a 16.3% lower level of triglycerides and a 10.1% lower level of LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol that can clog arteries) than before.
4. Weight Loss
Spirulina can lead to significant decreases in both body fat percentage and waist circumference. In a 2016 study, when people who were overweight regularly ate spirulina for three months, they experienced an improvement in their body mass index.
5. Reduced Blood Pressure
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a condition that affects nearly half of all U.S. adults. Hypertension increases your risk of developing serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke. Recent research has noted that spirulina can help lower blood pressure levels, and it is considered a promising non-pharmacological approach to treating hypertension.
High blood pressure is a leading cause of many serious conditions, including heart attack, stroke, and chronic kidney disease.
Spirulina supplements may help to lower blood pressure, especially for people with high blood pressure, according to a review of five studies. The studies found that taking 1-8 grams of spirulina per day could significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
The assumption is that the decrease is a result of greater nitric oxide production, which is a molecule that helps blood vessels relax and expand.
6. Muscle Strength
There are many benefits to taking spirulina when it comes to exercise and fitness. Spirulina can help enhance muscle strength, endurance and performance. The study found that men who took a regular spirulina supplement were able to exercise for longer periods of time without feeling fatigued.
Damages caused by oxidative stress is a leading cause of muscle fatigue during exercise. Plant foods with antioxidant properties can help athletes and physically active individuals reduce the amount of damage done to their bodies.
Some studies have found that spirulina may improve muscle strength and endurance.
One study showed that taking spirulina could improve how much oxygen someone used during an arm cycling exercise. Researchers thought spirulina could help people do physical activities better.
7. Supports Anemia
Anemia is a blood disorder that occurs when there is a lack of healthy red blood cells. This can cause extreme fatigue. Spirulina has been shown to be effective in treating anemia in some cases. A study that focused on senior citizens with anemia found that spirulina supplements increased the hemoglobin content of red blood cells, which specifically benefitted older women.
Anemia is a condition where you have less hemoglobin or red blood cells than normal in your blood. There are many possible causes of anemia, including nutrient deficiencies, genetic disorders, and chronic inflammation.
Anemia is a common problem in older adults, which can cause extended episodes of weakness and fatigue. In a study from 2011, it was shown that older people who have a history of anemia saw improvements in their hemoglobin levels and immune function from spirulina supplements.
Other studies with animals have found that spirulina could improve hemoglobin levels and reduce symptoms of anemia. More recent studies in humans are needed in order to improve the quality of the data.
8. Potential Anti-Cancer Properties
Some health experts have also tested whether spirulina has anti-cancer benefits. Young says that spirulina contains the active compound phycocyanin, which has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This makes spirulina a healthy food to prevent cancer and other diseases.
Some evidence suggests that spirulina may have anti-cancer properties, although more studies are needed. Studies in animals have shown that it can reduce the incidence of cancer and the size of tumors.
The effects that spirulina has on oral cancer have been studied a lot and are pretty well known. Many studies have found that spirulina can help with oral submucous fibrosis, a type of precancerous lesion in the mouth.
In a 2013 study of 40 individuals with OSMF lesions, spirulina was found to be more effective than pentoxifylline in promoting improvement of OSMF symptoms.
8. Diabetes Control
Spirulina may help to prevent or manage diabetes. A 2018 review study found that people who supplemented with spirulina had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels.
You can add spirulina to coffee or acai bowls or whatever suits your taste. Spirulina is high in protein which helps control blood sugar and diabetes.
This could be one tool that you use if you’re starting to have insulin resistance.
Never start taking spirulina without first consulting with a doctor about how it could interact with any medication you are currently taking.
9. Reduces Allergies
Spirulina supplementation has also been linked to reducing allergy symptoms by stopping the release of histamines.
The study found that people with allergic rhinitis who consumed 2 grams of spirulina a day experienced significant improvement in symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching.
10. Metabolism Support
Spirulina can help improve metabolism, making people feel more energetic. This means that they would burn more calories each day, which can help with weight loss
11. Mental Health
Spirulina may also improve mental health by treating mood disorders.
Studies have found that the superfood tryptophan can help increase serotonin levels in the brain. This may be helpful in preventing and treating mental health disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
12. Rich in many Nutrients
Spirulina is a type of bacteria that can grow in both fresh and salt water. Nostoc is a type of cyanobacteria that is often referred to as blue-green algae. Nostoc is a family of single-celled microbes.
Cyanobacteria, like plants, can produce energy from sunlight through photosynthesis. Spirulina was popular among the ancient Aztecs and regained popularity when NASA proposed that it could be grown in space for use by astronauts.
The most effective dose of spirulina is 1-3 grams per day. This tiny alga is packed with nutrients. A single tablespoon (tbsp.), or 7 g, of dried spirulina powder contains:
- Protein: 4 g
- Thiamin: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin: 20% of the DV
- Niacin: 6% of the DV
- Copper: 47% of the DV
- Iron: 11% of the DV
It also contains a fair amount of magnesium, potassium, and manganese. This food also contains a small amount of calories and carbohydrates.
This is mostly made up of essential fatty acids, such as omega-3, that are important for brain function. Spirulina contains a small amount of fat, about 1 g per tbsp, which is mostly made up of essential fatty acids like omega-3 that are important for brain function. This includes both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in an approximately 1.5-1.0 ratio.
Spirulina is an excellent source of protein and provides all of the essential amino acids that your body needs. This claim is false because spirulina does not contain any vitamin B12. It contains pseudo-vitamin B12, which is not known to be effective in humans.
Blue-green algae that can grow in both salt and fresh water It is highly nutritious and a great source of protein, copper, manganese, and B vitamins.
13. Boasts Powerful Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The oxidization of cells can cause chronic inflammation and diseases such as cancer. Spirulina is a great way to get antioxidants, which can help protect against damage from oxidation.
The main active component in spirulina is phycocyanin, which is an antioxidant that gives spirulina its blue-green color.
Recent studies have shown that phycocyanin can fight free radicals, providing impressive antioxidant effects. Additionally, phycocyanin has been shown to block the production of molecules that promote inflammation, giving it powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
14. Improves Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is characterized by inflammation in your nasal passageways. Asthma is a condition that is set off by allergies to things in the environment, like pollen, animal hair, and wheat dust.
There is evidence that spirulina can be an effective alternative treatment for symptoms of allergic rhinitis.
This is just one example, but it provides evidence that spirulina may be more effective in reducing symptoms and inflammation for those with allergies than a common antihistamine. However, more research is needed.
Spirulina is a type of bacteria that is blue-green in color and is very nutritious. The studies suggest that there are potential benefits to taking this medication including reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, suppressing oxidation, reducing blood pressure, and lowering fasting blood sugar levels.
Spirulina may be a superfood, but more research is needed to make strong claims about it.