What exactly is spirulina for? What are its properties and health benefits?
What is Spirulina
Mistakenly considered an alga, Spirulina ( Arthrospira platensis ) is a single-celled organism of the cyanobacteria family, one of the earliest life forms on the planet.
For the sake of simplicity, it is defined as a ” microalga ” due to its consistency and green-blue color, due to the presence of phycocyanins , or pigments which, as we shall see, play a crucial role for our health.
Having made the necessary presentations, let’s see specifically what Spirulina algae is for .
What is Spirulina for
In recent years there has been an increasing interest in spirulina, by virtue of its considerable potential as a nutraceutical food, on the basis of the initiative of the United Nations, FAO and WHO (World Health Organization) which in 1974 declared Spirulina the ” food of the future ” by launching on that occasion the IMSAM ( Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition ), an institution dedicated to promoting the use of Spirulina as an optimal food to combat malnutrition .
It is no coincidence that for some years spirulina has become the main source of supplementation to fight hunger and malnutrition in the world, especially among children.
The reason is that Spirulina represents a real ” superfood “, that is a food with a concentration of nutrients that is absolutely out of the norm.
What does spirulina contain?
- Between 60 and 65% of Proteins;
- Contains all 8 essential amino acids as well as 10 of the 12 non-essential amino acids;
- 22% of Carbohydrates (highly digestible mucopolysaccharides);
- Carotenoids (15 different types, including 20% beta-carotene);
- Vitamin A, B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B6, B9), vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and biotin (Vitamin H).
- Mineral salts including: magnesium, sodium, potassium, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, selenium and zinc;
- Fatty acids (in particular linoleic and γ-linolenic acid);
- Chlorophyll (3 times higher than wheat and barley grass);
- Phycocyanins (blue pigments with strong antioxidant properties);
- Vegetable fibres;
- Glutamic acid;
If you suffer from thyroid disease, I would like to reassure you immediately about a fact. Since it is not a real alga and growing only on freshwater lakes, spirulina contains iodine only in very small traces, so it has no contraindications for those with thyroid problems .
Benefits for health
Regular intake of Spirulina – a food that can boast such a concentration and variety of nutrients – has a truly incredible impact on our health.
And this is the reason why we often speak of Spirulina as a nutraceutical food, that is, a food capable of treating many pathological states.
More specifically, here’s what spirulina is for:
- It is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties ;
- Helps to lose weight ;
- Counteracts physical and mental fatigue ;
- The best natural protein supplement ;
- A calcium mine for bones ;
- Strengthens the hair, stops its fall and fights dandruff ;
- Prevents and fights diabetes ;
- Reduces the values of bad cholesterol and triglycerides ;
- Reduces blood pressure ;
- It cleanses the body of heavy metals ;
- For eye health .
1. It is rich in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties
As I said at the beginning of the article, the green-blue color of Spirulina is due to the presence of phycocyanins . These substances, in addition to giving the typical color, are well known in the scientific literature for their very high antioxidant power , which would be even 40 times higher than that of vitamin C and vitamin E (also present in spirulina).
Antioxidants are very important for our health, because they counteract the harmful action of free radicals , waste substances responsible for cell degeneration and aging.
As evidenced by several studies [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ], in addition to their excellent antioxidant properties, phycocyanins appear to be effective in inhibiting the production of inflammatory signal molecules, effectively reducing the inflammatory state .
2. Helps to lose weight
Yes, spirulina is also used to lose weight .
It will not be the miraculous panacea, but it is certainly a very valuable help, as it acts on three levels:
- speeds up cellular metabolism : which makes it easier to consume calories, which, conversely, would be stored in the form of fat deposits;
- reduces blood sugar and inflammation: which are two of the main reasons that lead us to accumulate fat;
- has a satiating action.
3. Counteracts physical and mental fatigue
The fatigue can be caused by several factors.
One above all is a diet lacking in fundamental substances, such as amino acids, mineral salts and vitamins. All substances that, as we have seen, are found in abundance in Spirulina.
In this regard, there is a very interesting study , conducted in 2016 by Ohio State University .
University researchers tested the hypothesis that implementing spirulina can increase people’s ability to resist mental and physical fatigue . Their study was conducted in a randomized, double-blind group of people.
The researchers used aerobic exercises, math tests, and were asked to log their daily fatigue. After a week, a dose of spirulina of 3 g per day produced a significant increase in exercise performance.
The math-based mental fatigue test showed improved performance 4 hours after the first time of supplementation and eight weeks later. Likewise, a subjective survey for a sense of physical and mental fatigue showed improvement within four hours of the first supplementation and eight weeks later.
4. The best natural protein supplement
Spirulina contains between 60% and 65% of highly bioavailable vegetable proteins . Double the soy and triple the meat!
We speak of highly bioavailable proteins, as unlike other plant sources, such as cereals and legumes, spirulina contains all the essential amino acids and 10 of the 12 non-essential amino acids .
In nature there is no other plant or animal food that can boast such a concentration of proteins.
For this reason, spirulina is considered an excellent supplement to the diet of vegans and vegetarians , as well as an excellent protein supplement for athletes .
5. A mine of calcium for bones
Spirulina is particularly rich in calcium , so much so that it contains almost three times as much as milk ! Whole milk contains around 119mg of calcium per 100ml, while 100g of Spirulina boasts a whopping 336mg.
As you well know, calcium is a very important mineral for the health of bones and teeth , whose contribution helps reduce the risk of osteoporosis .
Spirulina also contains vitamin K , a vitamin that ensures the functionality of the proteins that form and keep bones in shape . A deficiency in this vitamin can lead to increased bone fragility.
6. Strengthens the hair, stops it from falling out and fights dandruff
Taking Spirulina prevents and slows hair loss. Being a food rich in copper, iron and B vitamins, spirulina serves to regenerate damaged and weakened hair . Furthermore, the intake of spirulina promotes the development of tone and shine of the hair.
Finally, due to its richness in antioxidants, Spirulina is also effective in fighting dandruff .
7. Spirulina prevents and fights Diabetes
Apparently Spirulina also serves to prevent the onset of diabetes and to keep blood sugar under control in people with diabetes .
Studies on laboratory animals have been conducted, which have shown how Spirulina can significantly reduce blood glucose (blood sugar) levels . In some cases these tests have even surpassed the effectiveness of metformin ( 4 , 5 , 6 ), the drug used by type 2 diabetics to control blood sugar.
In a study of 25 people with type 2 diabetes, who were given two grams of spirulina a day for 2 months, they showed a sharp drop in blood sugar levels.
In addition, glycated hemoglobin, the long-term marker of sugar levels, had decreased from 9% to 8%.
8. Reduces bad cholesterol (LDL) and triglyceride values
As you probably already know, heart disease is the leading cause of death in industrialized countries.
SSpirulina is also effective in reducing two cardiovascular risk factors , namely high triglycerides and bad cholesterol (LDL), as well as raising “good” cholesterol (HDL).
In the previously mentioned study , conducted on patients with type 2 diabetes, Spirulina also significantly improved cholesterol and triglyceride values.
In another study , conducted on people with cholesterol values above the norm, it emerged that 1 g of Spirulina per day is sufficient to significantly lower the values of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol.
Further and more in-depth studies [ 5 ] [ 6 ] have shown even more interesting effects, with higher doses of Spirulina (4.5-8 grams per day).
9. Reduces blood pressure
L ‘ hypertension , which is the minimum pressure and / or maximum above normal, is another cardiovascular risk factor, also can lead to serious kidney problems.
From the studies done ( 7 , 8 ), it emerges that a daily consumption of 4.5 grams of Spirulina is sufficient to bring blood pressure back to normal levels .
10. It cleanses the body of heavy metals
Oh yes, apparently Spirulina also serves to cancel the harmful effect of some heavy metals and to favor their elimination .
Recent medical researches [ 9 ], [ 10 ], [ 11 ] have shown that Spirulina is able to absorb and eliminate heavy metals such as cadmium, mercury, arsenic and lead .
Furthermore, thanks to spirulina, chlorinated hydrocarbons , toxic substances present in pesticides and insecticides , are eliminated more easily .
11. For eye health
Spirulina is very rich in vitamin A (it contains 10 times more than carrots) and carotenoids .
Vitamin A, as well as carotenoids, are essential to keep the cornea young and healthy and to ensure that the retina always works with maximum efficiency, converting light stimuli into visual information.
Where Spirulina grows
Spirulina thrives in particular lakes with fresh and alkaline waters, located in tropical and subtropical areas of the planet, such as Lake Texcoco in Mexico and Lake Chad in north-central Africa.
However, the wild Spirulina, which grows spontaneously in these lakes, is enough to meet the demands of local populations.
All the Spirulina-based products that you will find on the market, whether it be powder or tablets, come from crops in controlled environments, such as tubs, or closed basins, where its natural habitat is “artificially” reproduced.
The properties of cultivated Spirulina are roughly the same as those of wild microalgae. The important thing is to always and only choose pure and organic Spirulina , to which substances “not good for the body” have been added, such as excipients, thickeners, dyes, maltodextrins or preservatives.
What is the daily dose of Spirulina?
Whether in powder or in tablets, the minimum recommended dose to fully benefit from the properties of spirulina is 4 grams per day .
The recommended daily dose of spirulina for athletes is 7-8 g.
Spirulina is considered a safe food , so much so that it can also be used by pregnant and lactating women.
As I have already explained to you there are no contraindications for those suffering from thyroid pathologies , as unlike sea algae, spirulina, which is not an alga and which grows only in fresh and alkaline waters, contains only minimal traces of iodine. .
Where to buy organic spirulina
You can buy Spirulina di Erbe di Mauro, certified organic, directly on our website . One pack contains 120 g of pure organic spirulina in tablets, with no added excipients, sweeteners, or preservatives.
The cost of a pack is € 16.90.
NB : All information published on this site is informative and should not be considered as advice, or medical prescriptions, or other.