How I discovered spirulina…
As a young boy, I didn’t like to eat vegetables. I wished there was a way to eat them without having to chew on it.
That’s why, when I discovered spirulina powder, I thought, Man, if this were available way back then, I’d just mix this with any drink and chug it down to get it over with.
Well, technically spirulina isn’t a vegetable. It’s a blue green algae typically found on alkaline bodies of water and it may be one of the best kept secrets in terms of nutritional value-with research backed information to prove it. Let’s go through it one by one.
7 reasons to add spirulina to your diet…
1. High Protein Content
Pound for pound, spirulina has more protein than red meat! If you look at its nutritional content, a hundred grams of spirulina contains over 57 grams of protein so more than 50 percent of its total weight is protein. Vegans use spirulina as a supplementary source of protein in their diets.
Since it has such high protein content, organizations like the Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition or IIMSAM have promoted spirulina as a potentially alternative nutritional supplement to help curb malnutrition around the world.
2. Helps Lower Bad Cholesterol
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention more than 71 million adults in the United States have high LDL or bad cholesterol and only a third of those have it under control. That means over 46 million Americans are at risk of getting a heart attack because their arteries get clogged up. The worst part about high cholesterol is that it doesn’t have any symptoms. It’s a silent killer that only shows up when you have your blood test or a heart attack.
Taking spirulina supplements could help lower bad cholesterol levels as one study on 30 healthy male subjects has shown. In this test, these subjects were given 4.2 grams/day of spirulina for the next four weeks and after that time period tests show that their bad cholesterol levels was significantly lower but when the spirulina supplement was discontinued cholesterol levels went back up to the baseline. Aside from lowering bad cholesterol, good cholesterol levels (or HDL) also increased during the test period.
3. Helps Lower Blood Glucose Levels (in Type-2 Diabetics)
Diabetes is another silent killer that affects over 9 percent of Americans in the United States and the sad thing is most of them don’t know they don’t have this disease. Similar to high cholesterol, the only way to find out if you have diabetes is through a blood test. Once you have it, it’s with you for life but there are ways to reverse this ailment through medication and natural methods like consuming spirulina.
One such study was conducted before on the effectiveness of Spirulina on people who have type-2 diabetes and the results were encouraging. After taking 2 grams of spirulina supplement per day for 2 months, subjects were found to have reduced their fasting and postprandial blood sugar levels.
Remember to always consult with your doctor when using supplements like this one as an alternative medication and how it interacts with your diabetic medication.
4. It is a Rich Source of Nutrients
Spirulina may look like pond scum but if you look at its nutritional content it’s golden. Per 100 grams, this algae contains 57.5 grams of protein and amino acids, this includes essential fatty acids gamma-linolenic acid or GLA which has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
It also has 570IU of vitamin A, 10.1mg of Vitamin C, 25.5 mcg of vitamin K, 14.4 mg of Niacin and 105 mcg of Folate.
Again, I’d like to stress that these are from 100 grams of spirulina. The recommended daily dose of spirulina is between five to 20 grams so the numbers above can be a bit misleading but if you add this to a healthy beverage like a smoothie or juice, the nutrition that you’ll be getting will add up.
5. Fights Liver Disease
Liver is one of the most important organs of our body, without it our body doesn’t have a mechanism to keep toxins away from contaminating the bloodstream. Alcohol consumption is one of the primary causes of liver disease but a diet rich in sugar can lead to a condition called a non-fatty liver disease.
Spirulina can be used as a natural treatment based on a study done on three people who had non-alcoholic liver disease. These subjects were given 4.5 grams (per day) of spirulina for a period of three months. The ultrasonography revealed that spirulina had therapeutic effects and should be considered an alternative option for people with this type of ailment.
6. Alternative Treatment to Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that primarily affects the liver. In the United States alone, an estimated 3.2 million people have this disease. The antibacterial and immune stimulating properties of spirulina can help treat Hepatitis C. A clinical study was done on 66 subjects who were diagnosed with hepatitis C to test the effectiveness of spirulina. Thirty of the subjects were given spirulina supplement while the rest were given Silymarin. The results showed that people who’ve taken spirulina had better ASEX, CLDQ and alanine aminotransferase scores compared to people who took Silymarin. In layman’s terms spirulina has shown to have better therapeutic effects than Silymarin.
7. Improve Aerobic Performance
Gym rats will love this. In a test done on nine moderately trained males (which means regular folks like you and me) has shown that spirulina can help people improve their stamina when doing cardio exercises. The study showed that male subjects who took six grams of spirulina per day lasted longer on the treadmill because they had significantly lower carbohydrate oxidation rate compared to male subjects who had taken placebo.
How do you add spirulina to your diet?
Fortunately, you don’t have to eat spirulina in its raw state as it is not very tasty. Modern technology has allowed manufacturers to transform spirulina from its pond scum looking state into powder form that you can mix with any dish. You can mix it in any green juice recipes or in a pre-workout protein shake to help you extend your stamina while exercising.
Written by Garrick Dee for thegreendivas.com. This article originally appeared on thegreendivas.com.
Listen to the latest Green Divas Radio Show: