Spirulina is a blue green algae that was used for its abundance in protein by the Aztecs for many centuries. It was also used by the African tribe living near Lake Chad, who used to just sift the algae off of the lake. In fact, it’s what they turned to when meat became scarce.
Spirulina is truly a superfood and it has stood the test of time, strengthening the physical form of many during the times of famine and scarcity. With this one simple food element, you can lower your risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, HIV and many other life threatening diseases.
What exactly is Spirulina?
Spirulina is not entirely an algae, even though it is often called blue green algae. Rather, it is a cyanobacteria that contains chlorophyll and obtains their energy from photosynthesis. The name spirulina in latin means tiny spiral, which actually refers to its shape. Depending on the pH level and nutrient availability of its surrounding, Spirulina spontaneously forms different shapes of spiral.
The structures of some species of spirulina is very similar to the first ever living organisms that was present in Earth.
Spirulina is one of the most nutritious food element on the planet. Let’s look at 5 reasons why it gets this honor.
1. Contains 60% protein–
Spirulina is a complete protein which means that it contains all the essential amino acids. Also, unlike the cell walls of most vegetables that are made up of undigestible cellulose, the cells walls of Spirulina is made from soft mucopolysaccharide which is very to digest. This is especially great news for those whose digestive systems have some kind of malformation, for example: Kwashiorkor syndrome, which hinders its capability to absorb nutrients properly. 90% of the protein found in Spirulina is digestible. It also contains Gamma-linolenic acid which is an Omega-6 fatty acid that is clinically shown to reduce inflammation.
More importantly, most of the proteins found in Spirulina is already in the usable form, so none of its energy is lost during the digestive process.
2. Impressive vitamins and minerals profile–
Take one look at its vitamin and mineral profile, and you will be impressed. At 23000 IU, it’s extremely rich in Beta Carotenes (30 times more than a carrot). It has 20 mcg of Vitamin B12 (more than beef liver). If you are on a vegetarian diet and are having trouble getting adequate amount of Vitamin B12, add some spirulina into your salad or smoothie next time. It is also dense in Vitamin E, has around 10 caretonoids, phenolic acid and selenium, giving your body the much needed antioxidant protection.
Some of the minerals it contains includes irons, magnesium, calcium, copper, chromium, potassium, manganese, zinc, sodium, phosphorous and selenium.
3. Very effective to treat allergies–
Research has shown that spirulina works wonders when it comes to relieving the symptoms of allergic rhinitis which includes sneezing, nasal discharge, congestion and itching. The reason for this is its immune boosting properties. It is very high in plant based iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Calcium, and alpha-linolenic acid (highest among any another plant).
4. Accelerates fat burning–
In a study where 9 healthy and fit participants were given 6 grams of Spirulina or a placebo pill daily for 4 weeks, it was found that spirulina significantly increased fat oxidation and exercise performance. It decreased lipid peroxidation. By lowering glucose oxidation, it increased the demand for fat as fuel.
5. Helps lower cholesterol–
Spirulina is high in essential fatty acids, especially linoleic and linolenic acids. These help lower total cholesterol, and protects the heart against high blood pressure induced by sodium. As mentioned above, it is extremely rich in Gamma linolenic acid which is also found in the mother’s milk. When paired with Vitamins C and A, it is shown to boost our immune functioning.
Spirulina: An Acquired Taste
First time spirulina takers will find its taste extremely strong and down putting. It is certainly anacquired taste, but the results you experience almost immediately will make your body crave for it every morning. It is very nutritious and plugs almost every nutrient deficiency. You can use fruit, berries and honey to simmer down its taste, but it is something you will have to get used to gradually.
Some might say that it tastes extremely fishy, but then it is an aquatic organism. The best way to try it is by first getting yourself mentally prepared with the fact that you are about to taste something very different, and secondly by giving yourself enough time to feel comfortable with the taste.
It is a powerhouse of nutrition, and just its taste should not deter you from making it a part of your diet.
In the comments below, please share: How you ever tried spirulina before? Please let us know your experience.