Algae is not that appetizing. Let’s face it, it’s largely green and gooey—not something that looks good or probably tastes any better. But that doesn’t mean it’s not good for you, especially if the algae are spirulina. This is a tiny dark blue-green freshwater or saltwater alga made of cyanobacteria and is one of the world’s most popular supplements. Thankfully, it is not consumed as a green goop, but rather it is consumed in powder, tablet or capsule form. It is so popular that in the next five years, the global market is expected to reach almost 100,000 tons. That’s a lot of algae, but of course, lots of people believe it has some potent health powers. Read on.
Just one tablespoon or 7 grams of dried Spirulina powder holds 20 calories, less than two grams of carbohydrates and a hefty four grams of high-quality protein. But that’s not all. This tablespoon also contains 14 percent of the Daily Value of thiamin, 20 percent of riboflavin, six percent of niacin, 47 percent of copper and 11 percent of iron. There are also amounts of magnesium, potassium and manganese.
Spirulina’s dry weight is between 55 and 70 percent protein, which is way more than many top plant or animal sources, such as soybeans (35 percent), peanuts (25 percent), cereals (8–14 percent), meat and fish (15–25 percent), eggs (12 percent), milk powder (35 percent) and whole milk (3 percent). It also has all of the essential amino acids—Leucine, Valine, Isoleucine, Threonine, Lysine, Phenylaniline and Methionine—as well as the nonessential amino acids, Glutamic Acid, Aspartic Acid, Alanine, Arginine, Glycine, Serine, Tyrosine, Proline and Cystine.
Antioxidant & Anti-inflammatory
Spirulina is an excellent source of antioxidants, such as phycocyanin, beta-carotene and other phytonutrients. Studies are already investigating how spirulina’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help pain relief, promote immune systems and relieve stress. The protection offered from chronic inflammation is also believed to help protect against cancer.
Eases Blood Pressure
A meta-analysis of five studies found that one to eight grams of spirulina daily significantly lowered both systolic blood and diastolic blood pressure. The impact was even greater for individuals with hypertension.
A 2020 review revealed that spirulina can help to lower bad cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Spirulina’s high phycocyanin content along with its gamma-linolenic acid helps lower and managecholesterol levels. The impact is especially beneficial to people with type 2 diabetes.
Cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy treatment for malignant tumors may be aided by spirulina’s ability to improve immune function and increase bone marrow activity. The combined impact helps generate platelets and red and white blood cells.
Spirulina can provide multiple skincare benefits. This is one reason it is used in skin creams, although consuming it directly is thought to improve gut health and body detoxification, consequently helping skin appearance. Spirulina’s omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are especially critical for keeping skin soft, moisturized and young-looking. The algae also promote dermal fibroblast cells that produce skin-firming collagen.
Anemia Plus & Minuses
Spirulina is a good news, bad news product when it comes to anemia. It is great for fighting iron deficiency anemia, packing in 58 times more iron than spinach and 18 times more than meat. Unfortunately, it can make anemia that is caused by vitamin B12 deficiency worse. Vegans, vegetarians and people with V12 absorption disorders should consult a doctor before taking spirulina.
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