Spirulina Benefits: A brief history
Spirulina has been used in foods as far back as the 1500s and is believed to have been popular among the Aztec population. In fact, historical documents show that Conquistadors sold spirulina cakes on a regular basis. In his book, “Conquest of Mexico,” Cortez writes:
“They make it into cakes like bricks, which they sell, not only in the market (of Tenochtitlan) but carry it to others outside the city, and far off. They eat this as we eat cheese, and it has rather a salty taste, which is delicious with chilmolli (a pungent sauce). They say that so many birds come to the lake for this food, that often in winter some parts are covered with them.” (1)
Spirulina, also known as “Tecuitlatl,” was the Aztezcs’ primary protein source for hundreds of years and Lake Texcoco is still a copious source of the superfood today.
Going even further back than the Aztecs, Central Africans near Lake Chad have been farming the superfood as early as the 9th century. While researchers confused spirulina with chlorella, a 1959 article referred to spirulina as “die.” But it was during a 1969 Belgian expedition that researchers first discovered the nutritional value of spirulina.
Spirulina Benefits Confused With Chlorella (2)
It is no surprise scientists confused these two similar microalgae plants. Even though the two have some glaring differences, they are still confused to this day. Here are the four main difference between spirulina and chlorella:
- Size, shape and color: Spirulina is spiral shaped, bluish-green in color and can grow up to 100 times larger than chlorella, which is spherical-shaped and solid green in color. Spirulina is also a multi-celled organism with no nucleus, while chlorella is a single-celled microorganism with a nucleus.
- Growing conditions: Spirulina is mostly found in fresh water, such as ponds, lakes and rivers. It needs a significant source of sunlight and only thrives in moderate temperature climates. While chlorella also grows in fresh water, it typically is found in areas with other thick plant growth, which makes it much more difficult to harvest.
- Consumption practices: The ways in which spirulina and chlorella can be consumed differ greatly. Chlorella is hard and virtually indigestible. It is only suitable for human consumption after mechanical processing. Spirulina's benefits, on the other hand, can be enjoyed without processing and is easily digestible.
- Nutritional content: While both plants are in the superfood family, the nutritional content of each is different. Spirulina contains more protein, iron, essential amino acids and vitamins B, C, D and E, making it arguably the healthier of the two choices.
Basic Nutrition Facts of Spirulina (3)
I prefer spirulina to chlorella for one important reason: it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. One cup of spirulina, on average, contains the following nutritional content:
- Sugars (3g)
- Dietary fiber (4g)
- Protein (64g)
- Calories (325)
- Saturated fat (15%)
- Omega-3 fatty acids (922 mg)
- Omega-6 fatty acids (1404 mg)
- Total fat (13% Daily Value)
- Calcium (13%)
- Copper (342%)
- Iron (177%)
- Magnesium (55%)
- Potassium (44%)
- Phosphorus (13%)
- Selenium (12%)
- Sodium (49%)
- Zinc (15%)
- Vitamin A (13%)
- Vitamin B6 (20%)
- Vitamin C (19%)
- Vitamin E (28%)
- Vitamin K (36%)
- Folate (26%)
- Niacin (72%)
- Pantothenic Acid (39%)
- Riboflavin (242%)
- Thiamin (178%)
Why Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica Is Beneficial
As a nourishing, concentrated whole food, Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica delivers more nourishment per gram than any other spirulina on the market. Just one 3-gram serving, for example, contains:
- 60 percent protein and Iron, Manganese, Chromium and Vitamins A, K1, K2, B12.
- Health-rich phytonutrients such as carotenoids, GLA, SOD, and phycocyanin.
- 2,800 percent more beta-carotene than carrots; 3,900 percent more iron than spinach; 600 percent more protein than tofu and 280 percent more antioxidants than blueberries.
These nutritional factors are responsible for a number of health benefits, including:
- Reinforced immune system
- Enhanced energy level
- Sustained cellular health
- Heart, eye and brain health
Top 7 Spirulina Benefits
If you are unable to get hold of Hawaiian Spirulina, do not fret. In general, spirulina has some incredible health benefits for people who consume it on a regular basis. In fact, of the 1,500 research articles discussing how spirulina benefits your health, these 7 stand out.
1. Immune Boosting
Disease transmission experts were confused when they attempted to comprehend why individuals in Japan, Korea, and Chad had moderately low HIV/AIDS rates. One conceivable reason for the moderately low rates, as explained by a review published in the Journal of Applied Phycology in 2012, might be the measure of algae people in these zones routinely ingest!
Scientists took 11 HIV patients who have never taken antiretrovirals, and split the members into three gatherings: one group ate 5g of dark-colored seaweed consistently, one group ate 5g of spirulina, and one ate a mix of both. (4) After the three-month time for testing was finished, two key discoveries were found:
- Researchers found no unfavorable results from the different seaweed variations or a mixture of both.
- CD4 cells (T-helper white blood cells that battle disease and are used to stage HIV and HIV-1 viral load, another HIV biomarker) stayed stable.
The immune boosting outcomes were promising to the point that one member volunteered to proceed with the review for an extra 10 months and they really profited by a “clinically noteworthy change in CD4 and diminished HIV viral load!”
2. Fight Chronic Disease (like cancer!)
According to the researchers, “A number of animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.” (5) This doesn't come as a shock, as nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles have been distributed in scientific journals assessing spirulina's capacity to impact malignancy cells! (6)
One article called attention to the fact that, notwithstanding its capacity to control blood cholesterol levels, “Spirulina is also rich in tetrapyrrolic compounds closely related to a bilirubin molecule, a potent antioxidant and anti-proliferative agent.” (7) When tried on human pancreatic cells, these analysts found that, “Compared to untreated cells, experimental therapeutics significantly decreased proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cell lines in vitro in a dose-dependent manner.”
This demonstrates the more spirulina somebody eats, the less danger they have in developing different malignancies!
3. Detox Heavy Metals
Affecting individuals everywhere throughout the world, persistent arsenic toxicity is an issue particularly in the Far East. According to Bangladeshi analysts, “Millions of people in Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, and Chile are consuming high concentrations of arsenic through drinking water, and thousands of them have already developed chronic arsenic poisoning.” (8)
Truth be told, up to 3 percent of the whole country of Bangladesh exhibited signs of clinical arsenic poisoning alone! (9) Bangladeshi analysts said, “There is no specific treatment” for arsenic poisoning, which is the reason they assessed options like algae. In the wake of giving 24 patients, influenced by arsenic poisoning, spirulina (250 mg) in addition to zinc (2 mg) twice a day, they contrasted the outcomes with 17 patients who took a placebo and found that the spirulina-zinc blend worked brilliantly. The members encountered a 47 percent abatement of arsenic in their body!
4. Combat Fungal Infections (like Candida!)
Candida belongs to the normal microfloral balance of an individual’s mucosal oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract and vagina. (10) This is important to keep in mind because, without a sound microflora balance in our body, we will be more susceptible to disease and sickness. In fact, leaky gut disorder and poor digestion are specifically associated with microfloral imbalance.
Not only is candidiasis the main source of mycosis-related illnesses in the United States, the abundance of candida has turned into the trademark sign for most immune system illnesses today.(11) Because of a shift in our eating regimen rich in sugar and other inorganic foods, we have seen a huge increase in yeast contaminations since the 1980s.
Fortunately, spirulina can be very beneficial. Animal studies have demonstrated that spirulina is hostile to microbial operators, especially candida. (12, 13, 14) Specifically, spirulina appears to advance the development of beneficial bacteria in the digestive organs, which represses Candida from flourishing. Furthermore, the fortifying properties of spirulina will help the body flush out Candida cells. (15)
5. Prevent Heart Disease
Spirulina benefits heart health in three primary ways:
- Lowers cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Protects against stroke
Let's look at each in more detail…
- Cholesterol – Spirulina has been proven to stop atherosclerosis and can decrease elevated levels of blood cholesterol. Recently published research reviewed in The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology fed rabbits an elevated cholesterol diet which included 0.5 percent cholesterol for 4 weeks, and then fed them a high cholesterol diet with 1 % or 5% spirulina for an extra two months. (16) Once the eight-week trial was complete, LDL levels decreased by 26 percent in the group eating 1 percent of spirulina and 41 percent in the group eating 5 percent spirulina. This strongly suggests that the more spirulina we eat the more benefits we will receive! Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol were also significantly reduced.
- Blood Pressure – Phycocyanin is a pigment found in spirulina that researchers have found has antihypertensive results (it brings down blood pressure). (17) Japanese analysts believe that eating the blue green algae turns around endothelial dysfunction in metabolic disorders. This is promising news for Americans on the grounds that metabolic disorders have quickly turned out to be one of the primary drivers of preventable infection today. Metabolic syndrome can elevate the danger of coronary illness, diabetes and stroke. (18)
- Stroke – Researchers also discovered that the spirulina supplementation lowered intimal aorta surface by 33 to 48 percent, which suggests that it can prevent atherosclerosis and subsequent stroke. (19) It is important to remember that this clinical trial was conducted on animals that were still eating a HCD, and it highlights that regular spirulina consumption can literally reverse the damage done by eating a poor diet. You can only imagine the heart health benefits that would be experienced in those individuals who have a balanced diet!
6. Clears Sinuses
Spirulina has shown through multiple studies to help reduce the inflammation that causes people to experience sinus problems known as allergic rhinitis. (20) Compared to placebo trials, spirulina has actually been proven quite effective at reducing itching, nasal discharge, nasal congestion and sneezing.
7. Burns Fat
Diets high in nutrient-dense protein-rich foods like spirulina promote weight loss and low-fat stores through a variety of mechanisms. Because it takes more energy to metabolize, eating protein helps maintain lean tissue and contributes to fat burning. It can also curb hunger and overweight people seem to benefit the most. (21) To maximize this benefit, try eating your high protein spirulina in the morning or during midday instead of at night.
Potential Risks of Spirulina
It is critical to make sure that the value and clarity of the spirulina that you consume is of the highest standards. Like anything that comes from the sea, be certain to only purchase blue-green algae that are pollution free. According to WebMD, contaminated spirulina can cause the following: (22)
- Rapid heartbeat
- Shock, and even death
- Liver damage
- Stomach pain
Also, some sources suggest that pregnant women and children should not consume algae. Contact your natural health care provider to confirm whether you should be consuming spirulina.