Spirulina: What Can It Do For You?
Dietary supplements are on the rise among health enthusiast and the general public, alike. Because of this growth, supplements are beginning to be available in more varieties and forms than just the usual vitamins and minerals like vitamin D and iron. Spirulina is one of the most popular of the growing supplements available.
What is spirulina? It is blue - green algae, not to be confused with blue alga chlorella, which is found in salt and large fresh water lakes. Spirulina algae began to rise in popularity after it was used by NASA as a dietary supplement for astronauts away on space missions. Commercial grade spirulina commonly used in supplements is grown under controlled conditions which resemble their natural habitat as much as possible. The spirulina grown is then harvested when it has its maximum beneficial qualities and is then dried. Once dried the product is converted into a powder form and packaged as a powder or encapsulated.
The green superfood
In the supplement market spirulina is beginning to be known as a major green superfood. Superfoods are generally plant derived foods, though some fish and dairy may be considered superfoods, and earn their name through being food items packed with beneficial nutrients, high bioavailability, and a plethora of positive health outcomes.
Spirulina health benefits are vast and impressive. It has the ability to improve immune function and produce anti-inflammatory side effects. Of these spirulina benefits some of the most remarkable may be the potential for anticancer, anti-viral, and anti-allergic side effects. Spirulina also carries powerful antioxidant properties making it great for preventing or reducing oxidative damage that is known to lead to acute and chronic disease.
For individuals living with high cholesterol spirulina may be able to help. It has been found to help lower the “bad” (LDL) cholesterol. Another way in which spirulina produces positive outcomes for heart health is its effects on blood pressure. This alga reduces blood pressure when taken at 4.5 grams per day, but before beginning such regimen a physician’s opinion should be sought. Weight and overall BMI have also seen improvements in individuals who consumed spirulina regularly.
The nutrient content of spirulina makes it a plant source of nutrition to be reckoned with. One tablespoon of this substance provides 4 grams of protein, 11 percent of the RDA for vitamin B1, 15 percent RDA for B2, and 11 percent RDA for iron while also providing 20 calories and almost 2 carbohydrates. It is thought that based on grams, spirulina may be the most nutritious plant food available.
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Spirulina has the highest concentration of protein (by dry weight) found in any food.
How can i consume spirulina?
Protein is made of amino acids, of which are there are twenty. Nine of these amino acids must be obtained through the diet which earns them the title of essential. A protein is considered “complete” when it contains all nine essential amino acids. All animal proteins contain all nine essential amino acids, but not all plants do. However, this should not concern vegan or vegetarians because spirulina is a complete plant protein as it provides all nine essential amino acids.
Spirulina is available as a green superfood powder that can be mixed in with drinks or blended with smoothies. The best greens powders are available as raw greens, spirulina protein, organic spirulina, and super greens powder. Spirulina can also be bought in capsule form.
When selecting a spirulina product it is essential to ensure the product comes from a reputable and trusted source. A vital role of spirulina in nature is to absorb heavy metals and toxins around it. Because of this it is essential to purchase spirulina from a pure source where water pollution and toxins are not present. Spirulina grown in a controlled environment is the safest way to ensure this happens.
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SpSpirulina in supplement form can produce many beneficial health outcomes. If interested in beginning a spirulina regimen the individual should research reputable sources and speak with their healthcare provider on the potential health benefits.