Spirulina is known to be a micro-algae with many properties: it is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, but also antiallergic and antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer. Lots of “anti” for such a small plant!
But what is spirulina? What are its nutritional values? What are the benefits of spirulina, and how to consume it? We answer all your questions and more in this article.
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina is one of the first microorganisms to appear on Earth, and would even be the first of all!
It has been used by some civilizations for as long as they can remember. The Incas already consumed it and considered it real food, and not just a complement to add to their dishes.
On the side of Africa, it has been used since the dawn of time by certain peoples of the Sahara. As for the Europeans, they discovered it when they arrived in Central America, on Mexican lands.
Today, it is cultivated in many places around the world, from the United States to China via Chile, West Africa, and India. There are also some cultures in France.
It must be said that in addition to being good for health, the culture of spirulina is full of advantages: it offers very good productivity and requires much less space than most other cultures. In addition, it consumes little energy and much less water than other foods. Its cultivation is therefore also good for the environment!
Spirulina Nutrition Facts
Spirulina is known for its high nutrient richness, although its exact nutrient content may be different depending on the specifics of its cultivation and preparation.
Quick return on all the good things contained in this small seaweed.
It is a great source of protein
Spirulina is particularly known to those looking to replace animal protein, and for good reason: it is the richest source of vegetable protein!
In addition to containing at least 50% of its weight in protein, it also contains all the essential amino acids, which makes it a substitute of choice for animal proteins. Indeed, there are few plants and vegetables which, like it, contain all the amino acids essential for the health of our body.
However, note that its consumption does not replace a healthy diet. If you are vegetarian, consider combining spirulina with other sources of vegetable protein to ensure a balanced diet.
It is rich in vitamins and minerals
Spirulina is, first of all, extremely rich in iron. But that’s not all: it also contains a large number of other minerals such as calcium, potassium, and selenium.
As for vitamins, it is an important source of B vitamins, including vitamins B9 and B12, but also vitamins C and E.
Other Nutrition Facts
Besides all this, spirulina also contains a good amount of essential fatty acids belonging to the omega-6 family.
It also contains a number of pigments with interesting properties, such as chlorophyll and phycocyanin. While the first helps cleanse and purify the blood as well as promote the creation of red blood cells, the second helps to strengthen the immune system and detoxify it.
Finally, it is rich in carotenoids and contains in particular beta-carotene, which can be transformed into vitamins A.
What are the benefits of spirulina?
Thanks to these excellent nutritional qualities, spirulina is, unsurprisingly, a source of many benefits.
Note, however, that many studies still need to be done on spirulina, to prove the results of the first studies or to scientifically support certain benefits noted by its consumers.
It helps prevent and fight cancer
Thanks to the many antioxidants it contains, such as beta-carotene, vitamin E, and selenium, spirulina helps fight cancer. Antioxidants protect the cells and tissues of our body and fight against the development of cancerous tumors.
Its effectiveness has been proven in particular in the protection against cancer of the mouth, cancer of the liver, and cancer of the skin. It also has a beneficial influence in the case of cancer treatments because it helps protect us from the side effects of radiotherapy.
It helps to treat cardiovascular diseases
Its composition of fatty acids, vitamins, and selenium helps protect our cardiovascular system. Thus, spirulina helps prevent strokes and heart attacks, but also to treat hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.
It relieves arthritis and rheumatism
Thanks to some of its antioxidants and minerals, spirulina contributes to the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism. It helps to protect and rebuild bones, cartilage, vertebral discs, and connective tissues. Spirulina also helps prevent osteoporosis.
It helps strengthen the immune system
In addition to all these diseases, spirulina acts in a more global way by stimulating our immune system, so as to keep diseases and infections at bay.
Thanks to its antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, it helps to strengthen our immune defenses. It is therefore an ally of choice in winter periods or when the weather is changeable and prone to severe colds or more serious illnesses, but also when we feel weak.
It helps lower cholesterol
Spirulina is effective in the fight against bad cholesterol and can therefore help fight against hypercholesterolemia. It would also help to increase the level of good cholesterol.
She fights diabetes
Spirulina helps reduce blood sugar levels on an empty stomach and also after meals.
It would also have an influence on the effectiveness of insulin, and thus allow it to do its job better.
It fights anemia
Not only does it fight it, but it can also prevent it. All this is thanks to its composition rich in vitamins and minerals.
Spirulina is particularly extremely rich in iron and can therefore effectively combat iron deficiency, which is one of the main causes of anemia.
It fights fatigue
Iron is also very good against fatigue. Unsurprisingly, therefore, spirulina is very effective in getting back into shape, but also in keeping in shape!
Other components of spirulina are also effective in this situation. This is the case, for example, with the vitamins and other minerals it contains.
Note that in addition to fighting against physical fatigue, it fights against mental fatigue by stimulating our brain, thereby reducing attention problems.
It gives energy and helps to recover after the effort
Thanks to its contribution to vegetable proteins, B vitamins, iron, and beta-carotene, spirulina is the ally of athletes.
Spirolina helps to improve endurance and resistance to effort, in particular by stimulating the oxygenation of muscles, cells, and blood. On the other hand, it is also useful after the effort because it helps to recover more quickly and to reduce the risk of cramps and aches.
It takes care of our muscles
Another point that will delight the most athletic among you: spirulina promotes the reconstruction of muscles. In addition, if you do bodybuilding, it will be your ideal ally thanks to its extreme richness in protein and will help you increase your muscle mass. Finally, it effectively relieves muscle pain.
It makes the skin beautiful and fights against its aging
Thanks to its antioxidants such as vitamin E, phycocyanin, and the famous beta-carotene, it contributes to cell renewal and helps to slow down the aging of the skin. In addition, it gives elasticity and suppleness to the skin, while making it soft.
It would help to lose weight
Some claim that it promotes feelings of satiety and fights fat while detoxifying our bodies. All this would contribute to weight loss, as long as spirulina complements a healthy and balanced diet.
This is due in particular to the fact that spirulina provides all the nutrients that we may miss when we follow a diet, but also because it helps to limit the level of sugar in our blood and its transformation into fat. In addition, spirulina is low in calories.
Other Benefits of Spirolina
Spirulina does not stop at these benefits! In addition to these, spirolina:
- is effective against the symptoms of allergies, particularly allergic rhinitis: it helps in particular to reduce sneezing, itching, and nasal congestion;
- protects the kidneys;
- protects the thyroid and reduces the risk of malfunctions at this level;
- reduces eye disorders;
- significantly lowers radiation levels following harmful radiation exposure;
- fights acne;
- rebuilds the intestinal flora and fights against intestinal ailments;
- helps fight against malnutrition and undernourishment.
How to consume spirulina?
The spirulina that we consume is dried. It is usually found in the form of powder, capsules, or tablets.
The powder is made to be added to your dishes or diluted in a drink. Note that it has a seaweed taste which is not always unanimous. If you don’t like it, avoid diluting it in water and prefer using other drinks such as fruit juices, smoothies, or even milkshakes, which will hide its taste.
As for the quantity, taking too much would not be harmful to the body but it is generally recommended to take up to 5 grams per day. In some situations, to take advantage of particular effects, you can take up to 10 grams per day. This is the case for athletes, for example.
Be that as it may, be patient: in the event of a cure, the effects of spirulina will only be seen after one to three weeks of regular intake. It all depends on your metabolism and physical condition.
Precautions for use
However, some precautions should be noted.
First, to take advantage of all its benefits and be able to consume it without risk, it is best to buy it in its pure state and not mixed with other components. Also, find out about its origin because the quality of spirulina can vary enormously according to this criterion.
If it grew in polluted environments, it may indeed contain a certain percentage of heavy metals that you will surely want to avoid! To do this, check that the spirulina you buy comes from protected growing areas.
Second, although anyone can normally consume spirulina, some advice against it for pregnant and breastfeeding women. People suffering from gout or phenylketonuria should also avoid consuming it.
Third, if you’re just starting out, it’s best to start small and gradually increase. Indeed, it can cause some undesirable effects some, such as nausea or gastrointestinal disorders. In the first week, limit yourself to a dose of 1g per day, before starting to increase gradually from the second week.
Finally, if you want to use it as a medical treatment, it is best to consult your doctor first. Depending on your profile and the characteristics of your file, he will be able to tell you if you can consume it without risk or if its consumption is not recommended for you.
Also consult your doctor if you want to consume spirulina in parallel with drug treatment, to avoid side effects due to the joint intake of spirulina and drugs.