10 Science-Backed Benefits of Spirulina

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While the term “superfood” has been thrown around a lot over the past few years, it seems to be fitting for spirulina. A type of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that flourishes in warm alkaline water, spirulina is said to have numerous health benefits, many of which are backed by research.
Below I’m listing 10 of these science-backed benefits, plus a few risks to be aware of. (And before you start to wonder about the taste, it is basically tasteless when added to most food or drinks.) πŸ™‚


 
1. Spirulina is Amazingly Nutrient Dense
As I mentioned already, spirulina really is a superfood!
In just 100g of dried Spirulina powder, there is approximately 57g of complete protein, 206% of the daily recommended value of vitamin B1, and 219% of the daily recommended value of iron.
It is also a great source of many other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin E, calcium, manganese, and magnesium.

 

2. Spirulina Helps Fight Inflammation
The inflammation process is in depth and consists of multiple biological steps. One of the first steps involves the release of histamines by mast cells, which basically tell your body to “attack” invaders. While this is typically a good thing when helping to prevent infections, sometimes these histamines can be released when we don’t actually need them, leading to chronic inflammation.
Chronic inflammation is causally linked to many metabolic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, and even cardiovascular disease. Spirulina has been shown to play a role in stopping the inflammatory response, thus helping to fight against chronic inflammation in the body (source).

 

3. Spirulina is Shown to Lower Blood Pressure
Scientific studies have shown that phycocyanin, a pigment found in spirulina, possesses anti-hypertensive effects that help to lower blood pressure (source). This makes spirulina especially beneficial for those suffering with hypertension and high blood pressure.

 

4. Spirulina May Alleviate Nasal Allergies
As I mentioned above, spirulina helps in reducing the body’s inflammatory response, which can be especially helpful for people suffering with allergies. Studies have shown that spirulina is effective at reducing nasal discharge, congestion, sneezing, and itching (source).

 

5. Spirulina may Help to Remove Heavy Metals and toxins From the Body

Spirulina is high in Chlorophyll, which has been shown to remove toxins from the blood. It can also bind with heavy metals and help to remove them from the body (source).

 

6. Spirulina may improve endurance and muscle performance

Oxidation is a major contributor to muscle fatigue. Spirulina has been shown to help reduce oxidation, thus helping to minimize oxidative stress that occurs during exercise. In 2 separate studies, spirulina was shown to enhance endurance and increase the time that it took for people to become fatigued, and in a third separate study spirulina was shown to increase muscle strength (source 1, 2, 3).

 

7. Spirulina may help prevent or treat certain cancers

I’m not a fan of bold “cancer cure” claims with no scientific research to back them, but there has been some positive and promising research on the abilities of spirulina in the fight against cancer. For example, in one study it was found that taking just one gram of spirulina daily by mouth for 12 months helped to reduce precancerous mouth sores (oral leukoplakia) in people who chewed tobacco (source). This was the first studying showing spirulina’s effects in helping to prevent/fight cancer, and hopefully the same type of findings will come from research on other cancers as well.

 

8. Spirulina May improve gut flora and reduce candida infections

Candida species are part of our normal microbiota (microorganisms that live in/on our bodies), and they typically live in our oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, and (in women) the vagina.

While it is normal and healthy for these species to live as one with us, they are also opportunistic, which means they are able to overgrow and produce illness if given the opportunity. Spirulina may help to keep our gut flora balanced by promoting the growth of healthy bacterial flora, which in turn inhibits Candida from “taking over” and overgrowing in the gut (source).

 

9. Spirulina may help speed up weight loss

Eating protein-rich foods helps to maintain lean tissue and contribute to fat burning. There are numerous mechanisms at play here, but it basically costs your body more energy to breakdown muscle tissue, so when given the choice, it prefers to burn fat instead. Therefore, diets high in nutrient-dense protein-rich foods like spirulina help to make sure you’re getting enough protein to promote fat burning. Studies have also shown that spirulina may help in curbing hunger cravings as well (source).

 

10. spirulina can boost your energy

All of the combined ingredients in spirulina can provide immense overall health benefits. By maintaining healthy gut flora, high antioxidant content, and high vitamin and mineral content in our bodies, our energy levels increase and we feel more refreshed and energized.


 Nutritional Values for spirulina

1 ounce of Spirulina contains –
  • 81 Total Calories
  • 39g of Protein 
  • 1g of Dietary fiber
  • .9g of Sugars

VITAMINS

  • Riboflavin: 60%
  • Thiamin: 44%
  • Niacin: 18%
  • Pantothenic Acid: 10%
  • Vitamin K: 9%
  • Vitamin E: 7%
  • Folate: 7%
  • Vitamin B6: 5%
  • Vitamin C: 5%
  • Vitamin A: 3%
Minerals
  • Copper: 85%
  • Iron: 44%
  • Manganese: 27%
  • Magnesium: 14%
  • Sodium: 12%
  • Potassium: 11%
  • Zinc: 4%
  • Phosphorus: 3%
  • Calcium: 3%
  • Selenium: 3%
Fats
  • Total fat: 3% Daily Value
  • Saturated fat: 4% Daily Value
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 230 mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 351 mg

(source)


While spirulina has many benefits, there are a few risks that you should be aware of…

First, there is a risk of contamination. Spirulina is a form of cyanobacterium, and some are known to produce toxins, such as microcystins. Microcystins can cause gastrointestinal problems, and in more rare instances (with long time intake), liver damage (source).

— Because spirulina comes from the sea, there is also a chance of it containing mercury or other metals if not collected from a safe area and processed properly. Some spirulina supplements have been found to contain microcystins and metals, so it is important to find a brand that you trust, and one that sources the spirulina from a safe area.

Here are a few to try:

Vital Proteins Spirulina Capsules

KIKI HEALTH Organic Premium Spirulina Tablets

Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina Powder

— Next, spirulina should be avoided by those who have phenylketonuria, since these individuals must avoid the intake of the amino acid phenylalanine.

— There is also speculation on whether or not spirulina exacerbates auto-immune disorder symptoms, so it is especially important to talk with your doctor before adding spirulina to your diet.

This information is not intended as medical advice, and you are encouraged to consult a health care professional before incorporating spirulina into your diet.


                                                     I hope you found this article helpful, let me know if you give it a try! πŸ™‚

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