Health Benefits of Spirulina & Nutrient Facts That You Can’t Ignore

Jun 1, 2020 | Athletes' Corner, Nutrition, Vegan Corner

Written by Christine Advincula, RDN
Health Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina, a blue-green alga, is one of the world’s most researched algae and well-known dietary supplement. Health benefits of spirulina are innumerable as it contains vast amount of nutrients.

Nutrient Facts of Spirulina

Spirulina is rich in nutrients and vitamins that benefit your health. It contains vitamins A, B, C, E along with minerals like magnesium, zinc, calcium and selenium. In fact, selenium and vitamin C both help prevent any damage to our tissues and cells and protect against oxidative damage. Research also suggests spirulina has inflammation properties and the ability to help regulate our whole immune system. As such, it benefits our immunity.

Besides, this nutrient dense food also contains rich source of protein and iron. As a result, making it an exceptional dietary supplement choice for vegan. The proteins in spirulina is around 60% – 70% of its dry weight. It contains all the necessary amino acids your body needs but cannot produce on its own.  For this reason, making it a plant-based source of “complete protein”.

Spirulina provides excellent health benefits to human body. Many people do consider it as “superfood”. By consuming a right amount of spirulina in your diet, you might stay well-nourished.

To date, researchers have carried out many studies to examine the health benefits of spirulina and address what is spirulina good for.

Below are 5 promising health benefits of spirulina supported by research studies.

Health Benefits of Spirulina

Prevent Heart Disease by Reducing Cholesterol

Blood Pressure 

Heart and circulatory diseases are among the world’s leading causes of death. High cholesterol level increases the risk for heart disease. In reality, consuming spirulina actually helps with the reduction of cholesterol level. A 2016 research study showed that consuming spirulina helped lower total cholesterol. It reduced “bad” LDL cholesterol among the test group. Researchers conducted another prospective study in 2013 for three months. They found that one gram of spirulina per day lowered the total cholesterol level.

The lowering of cholesterol level generally helps control one’s blood pressure. A study further supported this claim. Participants took 4.5 grams of spirulina every day during the research study. After that, they showed a lower blood pressure level with the normal level. The increased production of nitric oxide widened their blood vessels. Another study conducted in 2016 was about consuming spirulina for consecutive three months. The result showed a reduction in blood pressure among people who had hypertension.

Spirulina acts as a strong aid in lowering cholesterol and blood pressure level. As a result, playing a vital role in the prevention of heart disease. A 2013 study supports this by suggesting that blue-green algae are anti-inflammatory. It helps lower cholesterol level thus help prevent heart disease.

Protect Against Oral Cancer

with its Anti-Cancer Properties

Evidence shows that Spirulina has anti-cancer properties. As such, spirulina may offer some protection against oral cancer. Researchers carried out a 12-month study in India. Participants were diagnosed with precancerous lesion in the mouth. They found that a daily dose of spirulina helped cleared up the lesions among 45% of the participants. And without further taking spirulina, nearly half of them redeveloped the lesions afterwards. This shows that spirulina appears to be effective against precancerous lesion.

Manage Diabetes Level through

Lowering Blood Sugar Level

Type 2 diabetes people participated in a two month study. They consumed 2 grams of spirulina every single day during the research study. At the end, there was a notable reduction in their blood glucose level. Another review study taken place in 2018 further supports this finding. The intake of spirulina supplements helped lower fasting blood glucose levels. In actual, people with diabetes type 1 and 2 tend to have high fasting blood sugar level. Hence, this suggests spirulina supplements can help control diabetes level.

Improve Allergic Rhinitis

by Fighting Allergic Symptoms

Allergic Rhinitis is common among individuals. The main cause is the triggering of allergens through dust, pets and other environmental factors. This results in inflammation and congestion of nasal passageways. Recent study shows spirulina is an effective alternative to reduce allergic symptoms. The study found that consuming spirulina improved symptoms like sneezing and nasal congestion. Spirulina is also proved to be more clinically effective on allergic rhinitis than placebo.

Enhance Endurance and Muscle Strength

Physically active people and athletes may suffer from muscle fatigue. Studies found that consuming spirulina supplements enhanced endurance and muscle strength among participants. As a result, increased their exercise performance and time to fatigue.

Though there are numerous health benefits of spirulina. For instance, it helps improve cholesterol and blood pressure level, fight against allergic symptoms as well as increase muscle strength. There is a need for further research studies and clinical trials before any strong claims about spirulina can be made.

Side Effects of Spirulina

Consuming spirulina may result in few adverse effects. For example, causing muscle pain, headache, sweating or allergic reactions. You may even suffer from insomnia in certain situations.

Avoid spirulina if you are allergic to seaweed, seafood or other sea vegetables. If you are pregnant or have an autoimmune disorder, phenylketonuria (PKA), you should not consume spirulina

Spirulina also contains salt as 73mg of sodium is found in one 7g tablespoon. If you have high blood pressure or issues with salt, check with your doctor before consuming. 

Spirulina can be consumed as a dietary supplement or in powder form. The daily dose to take in is 1-3 grams but 10 grams doses have also been used effectively. Spirulina powder of 7 grams or one tablespoon contains the following key nutrients:

  • Carbohydrate: 1.67g
  • Calcium: 8mg
  • Fat: 0.54g (include omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Iron: 2mg
  • Protein: 4.02g
  • Other nutrients such as magnesium, potassium, copper, vitamins, to name but a few.

You can sprinkle spirulina powder on your salads or stir one tablespoon into your juices. You may even add into your smoothies to enjoy this “superfood”. Make sure to buy spirulina from reputable brands to assure the quality.

Again, speak to your healthcare advisor before making any changes to your diet.

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