The world has heard of spirulina a few years ago. People first thought that spirulina was a wondrous green powder from the sea and a secret weapon of the Aztecs.
Now we know that spirulina offers lots of protein for vegetarians. It is also full of important antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals.
Moreover, it contains twice the amount of nutrients than five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables.
What makes spirulina so special?
According to experts, it is actually a cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Spirulina is named after its strong color. Most of its pigments are bio available and healthy, especially beta-carotene and chlorophyll-a.
Algae produce oxygen through photosynthesis, which makes them quite similar to terrestrial plants. They are also rich in many nutrients.
Where was the cyanobacteria first found?
Today they can be found everywhere, including the oceans, fresh water, dry land, wet rocks in the desert, naked rocks and soil, and even on the rocks in Antarctica. A large percentage of the commercialized spirulina is collected in the United States on the shores of Hawaii and South America.
Later it is sold in form of pills, powders and flakes. It comes pure or mixed with other ingredients.
Spirulina is made up from almost 60% protein, and is a great alternative for meat protein sources. Nutritionists say that it is one of the few plants that contain vitamin B12.
As you may know, vegetarians lack this vitamin in their diet. Spirulina contains omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, DHA (one of the major constituents of the brain) and GLA which decreases inflammation. These healthy lipids have many important roles in the body.
Gram-per-gram spirulina contains:
- 3 100% more beta-carotene (vitamin A) than carrots
- 5 500% more iron than spinach
- 600% more proteins than tofu
- 280% more antioxidants than blueberries
Blue-green algae contain vitamins B 1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), C, D and E.
It is an excellent source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and metal zinc.
Additional medicinal properties:
- Relieves allergies
- Stimulates the immune system
- Regulates blood pressure
- Normalizes cholesterol
- Prevents cancer
- Stimulates the good bacteria in the gut
- Reduces the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration due to age
- Has a strong anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial potential
- It offers great antiviral activity against HIV, herpes and hepatitis
- Strengthens insulin resistance
- Helps prevent liver damage caused by chemotherapy drugs
The best way to use spirulina:
You can easily swallow a pill or add ¼ -1 teaspoon of powder in a shake. Nutritionists advise you to start consuming spirulina in small amounts because it has a slightly sweet taste that some people cannot stand. Spirulina is also available as a pre-packaged protein powder with altered taste.
A good trick that you can try:
Add a teaspoon of spirulina powder in a bag of popcorn and shake (as you normally salt popcorn). For best flavor, add garlic powder and shake again.
Warning: Do not use any kind of algae because you can accidentally eat inedible species and endanger your life.