How often do you walk into your local grocery store overwhelmed by the endless amounts of supplements wondering,
“Are those marketed benefits true?”
“Are they worth that price? “
Spirulina, a trendy supplement hitting the shelves, is backed by a variety of research studies highlighting its disease-preventing and nutrition-boosting capabilities.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina, commonly seen in pill or powder form, is actually sourced as a beautiful filamentous blue-green algae naturally grown in salty waters (Ali, Barakat, Hassan, 2015).
Classified in the plant kingdom for its pigments and ability to photosynthesize, this algae contains natural pigments which not only contribute to its rich green hue but also to its many health benefits (Ali, et al., 2015).
Spirulina should not just be regarded for its beautiful pigments, but also for its disease preventing powers. It fights free radicals, cancer, inflammation, and even bacteria giving it the power to work against large scale diseases or conditions such as:
- high cholesterol,
- nutrient deficiencies,
- muscle damage,
- DNA damage,
- and arthritis. (Ali, et al., 2015).
Many studies have been able to show Spirulina does have the ability to fight against well-known health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and much more.
Does it have any nutritional benefits?
Spirulina does not spend all of its' time fighting disease but also manages to provide additional vitamins and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese, essential fatty acids, and more (Aissaoui, et al. 2017). By merely eating one ounce or seven calories worth, you can get 6% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Iron, 10% of the RDI of copper, and 2 grams of protein (Ruscigno, et al., 2013). Plant-based eaters and vegetarians should make note of this nutrient packed food. What a great source of protein and minerals!
How do you eat spirulina?
Not just a trend of the present, this algae used to be put into cakes or even broths. However, today it is more easily found on the shelf of many grocers or even in your local smoothie place just down the road. More recently, this beautiful green powder is used in addition to green smoothies, protein balls, raw desserts, and more.
Try the recipe below out and let me know what you think!
1 ½ frozen bananas
½ cup frozen mango
1 cup fresh spinach
½ tsp. raw green spirulina
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
½-1 cup water
optional toppings: fresh fruit, freeze-dried fruit, coconut shavings, raw buckwheat, chia seeds
*smoothie tip: Blend your greens with water first before adding in all the other ingredients to prevent any leafy bits left in your smoothie.
Do you think it is worth the splurge?
Aissaoui, O., Amiali, M., Bouzid, N., Belkacemi, K., & Bitam, A. (2017). Effect of Spirulina platensis ingestion on the abnormal biochemical and oxidative stress parameters in the pancreas and liver of alloxan-induced diabetic rats. Pharmaceutical Biology, 55(1), 1304-1312.
Ali, E., Barakat, B., & Hassan, R. (2015). Antioxidant and Angiostatic Effect of Spirulina platensis Suspension in Complete Freund’s Adjuvant-Induced Arthritis in Rats. PLoS One, 10(4), E0121523.
Brandenburg, Natalie. (2018). Sweet Greens Smoothie Bowl [Photograph]. Retrieved from https://www.instagram.com/thecaliforniabowl/.
Kuča, K. (2016). The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina: An overview. Archives of Toxicology. Archiv Für Toxikologie, 90(8), 1817-1840.
Ku, C., Yang, Y., Park, Y., & Lee, J. (2013). Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae: Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Journal Of Medicinal Food, 16(2), 103-111.
Ruscigno, Man, Salomon, and Sharon. (2013). Uncovering health benefits for spirulina and salba. Environmental Nutrition, 36(11), 2.
Wu, Q., Liu, L., Miron, A., Klímová, B., Wan, D., & Kuča, K. (2016). The antioxidant, immunomodulatory, and anti-inflammatory activities of Spirulina: An overview. Archives of Toxicology, 90(8), 1817-1840.