Spirulina is a blue-green algae, and is believed to be one of the oldest life forms on Earth.
First used by the Aztecs as an endurance-booster, spirulina is considered a superfood — an all-in-one source of nutrients including protein levels comparable to eggs.
The Aztecs also used spirulina to treat various diseases, and legends say that the kingdom’s messengers used the algae to sustain their marathon runs. Modern research supports many of the alleged benefits of taking spirulina, and continues to study its potential for treating health concerns.
Spirulina has a bitter taste, so people often mix it with yogurts, juices, and smoothies to improve its flavor. Spirulina is commonly available as a supplement at health food stores.
Spirulina is a good source of:
Thiamine (vitamin B1)
Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
Niacin (vitamin B3)
Spirulina also contains magnesium. This mineral supports normal daily functions like muscle use and your heartbeat. It’s also responsible for producing protein and creating energy — but most people don’t get enough in their diet.
Spirulina is a potent source of nutrients. It contains a powerful plant-based protein called phycocyanin. Research shows this may have antioxidant, pain-relief, anti-inflammatory, and brain-protective properties.
This antioxidant and other nutrients in spirulina are linked with several health benefits:
Many antioxidants in spirulina have anti-inflammatory effects in the body. Chronic inflammation contributes to cancer and other diseases.
Phycocyanin — the a plant pigment that gives spirulina its blue-green color — has been found to not only reduce inflammation in the body, but also block tumor growth and kill cancer cells. The immune-enhancing protein is being studied for its potential in cancer treatment.
Research has found that the protein in spirulina can reduce the body’s absorption of cholesterol, lowering cholesterol levels. This helps keep your arteries clear, reducing strain on your heart that can lead to heart disease and stroke-causing blood clots.
Its protein also reduces triglyceride levels. These are fats in your blood that can contribute to the hardening of arteries, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and pancreatitis.
Spirulina increases nitric oxide production in your body as well, which helps your blood vessels relax. Studies show that this can reduce your blood pressure, lowering your heart disease risk.
The anti-inflammatory effect caused by spirulina’s antioxidants may help people with allergies caused by pollen, animal hair, and dust. One study found that symptoms like congestion, sneezing, and itching were reduced significantly in participants, suggesting that spirulina may be a good alternative to allergy medications.
Immune System Support
Spirulina is rich in a range of vitamins and minerals essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, like vitamins E, C, and B6. Research finds that spirulina also boosts the production of white blood cells and antibodies that fight viruses and bacteria in your body.
Laboratory studies show that spirulina can fight herpes, flu, and HIV — though much more research is needed to test these effects in humans.
May Maintain Eye and Oral Health
Spirulina is concentrated with zeaxanthin, a plant pigment that may reduce the risk of cataracts and age-related vision loss.
Its antibacterial properties may also help promote good oral health. One study found that spirulina-enhanced mouthwash reduced dental plaque and the risk of gingivitis in participants. Another study showed it lowered the risk of oral cancer in people who chew tobacco.
10 Health Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina is a type of algae associated with many health benefits, thanks to its nutrient profile and powerful antioxidant properties.
Spirulina is among the world’s most popular supplements.
It is loaded with various nutrients and antioxidants that may benefit your body and brain.
Here are 10 evidence-based health benefits of spirulina.
1. Rich in many nutrients
Small table spoon averagely contains:
Protein: 4 g
Thiamin: 14% of the Daily Value (DV)
Riboflavin: 20% of the DV
Niacin: 6% of the DV
Copper: 47% of the DV
Iron: 11% of the DV
It also contains decent amounts of magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in both salt and fresh water. It is highly nutritious and a great source of protein, copper, and B vitamins.
2. Boasts powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
Phycocyanin is the main active compound in spirulina. It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. May lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels
Studies indicate that spirulina can lower triglycerides and improve cholesterol levels, which may support heart health.
4. Protects LDL cholesterol from oxidation
Fatty structures in your body can become oxidized, driving the progression of many diseases. Some research suggests that the antioxidants in spirulina may help prevent this.
5. May have anti-cancer properties
Spirulina may have anti-cancer properties and appears especially effective against certain types of precancerous lesions of the mouth. However, more research is needed.
6. May reduce blood pressure
Spirulina may increase production of nitric oxide and reduce blood pressure levels, a major risk factor for many chronic conditions.
7. Improves symptoms of allergic rhinitis
Spirulina supplements may be effective against allergic rhinitis, but more research is needed.
8. Could be effective against anemia
One study suggests that spirulina can reduce anemia in older adults. Some animal studies have also found that spirulina could be beneficial for anemia, but more research is needed.
9. May improve muscle strength and endurance
Spirulina may provide multiple exercise benefits, including enhanced endurance and increased muscle strength.
10. Could support blood sugar control
Some evidence suggests that spirulina may benefit people with type 2 diabetes by significantly reducing fasting blood sugar levels. Still, more studies are needed.
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria — often referred to as blue-green algae — that is highly nutritious.
Studies show that it may improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels, suppress oxidation, reduce blood pressure, and lower fasting blood sugar levels.
While more research is needed before any strong claims can be made, spirulina may be one of the few superfoods worthy of the title.
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