There are many claims out there about “superfoods” that could easily and painlessly lead you to better health. One of these is claims that have been exciting worldwide interest is of the health benefits of organic spirulina.
Spirulina is a blue-green cyanobacteria, similar to algae, that grows in warm climates in freshwater alkaline-rich bodies of water such as ponds and lakes. It’s not unlike kelp or nori. It is considered a superfood because of the amount of protein, vitamins and minerals it contains. It is at least 50% protein, compared to meat which is averages 27%, with all the essential amino acids, which is probably why the Aztecs and Kanembu people used it as a food source. Spirulina also contains Vitamin B6 and high levels of B12, A, C and K as well as manganese, zinc, potassium and iron. Its calcium, magnesium and phosphorus content equal that of milk while it provides more Vitamin E than that of wheat germ, B12 as much as liver.
Spirulina is considered the best single source of gamma-linoleic acid, a fatty acid needed for healthy joints and heart that is rarely found in sufficient amounts in regular food, as well as sulfolipids which boosts the immune system.
In modern society, some form of spirulina is included in health food and beverages, including energy drinks and bars. It is also available as powder, flakes or tablets for retail consumption. Because the protein in
In the wild, spirulina can be found in Mexico and Africa, but it is easy to cultivate it anywhere in the world. It multiples rapidly and are easily harvested as they grow in close-knit colonies. The production of spirulina is projected to top 220,000 tons in less than 7 years. Currently, Japan is both the largest producer and consumer of spirulina.
In terms of health benefits, spirulina is believed to have significant positive effects on:
Age-Related Macular Degeneration (ARMD) – spirulina has lutein and zeaxanthin, pigments which help protect the eyes from damage by ultraviolet radiation. It may also help prevent cataract formation by the presence of xanthophylls from zeaxanthin
Type 2 diabetes and heart disease – Spirulina reduces the risk of insulin resistance by decreasing episodes of systemic inflammation and the phycocyanin content improves the lipid profile associated with onset of diabetes and development of cardiovascular disease. For those who are overweight, spirulina improves vasodilation or widening of the blood vessels, which helps reduce the risks associated with diabetes and heart disease.
Chronic liver disease – Spirulina prevents the accumulation of fats in the liver because of high levels of antioxidants present . These benefits include reducing triglyceride buildup, lipid perodixation, and inflammation as well a protects against heavy metal damage
Strokes and neurogenerative disorders – The antioxidants in spirulina reduces the risk of stroke and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimers by reducing platelet aggregation and inflammation caused by free radicals in the blood. The antioxidant properties of spirulina are associated with its phycocyanobilin component which is also anti-inflammatory. Phycocyanobilin is thought to approximate the action of bilirubin, which aside from reducing the risks of heart disease is also thought to reduce the risk of:
- Insulin resistance
- Erectile dysfunction
- Pulmonary fibrosis
There is a lot of evidence supporting the health benefits of spirulina, both for humans and animals. Its biggest health benefit is boosting the immune system.