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Spirulina, a blue-green micro-algae, is a much-talked-about superfood today, due to its profound health benefits that help restore and revitalize your overall health.
Spirulina grows naturally in salty lakes and oceans in subtropical climates. Today, it is grown around the world from Mexico to Africa and even Hawaii.
This green superfood is used in beverages, energy bars and even supplements. Apart from the supplements, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) allows manufacturers to use spirulina as a colour additive in candies, gums, and packaged foods.
Nutritional Value Of Spirulina
100 g of spirulina contains 4.68 g water, 290 kcal energy, and it also contains:
- 57.47 g protein
- 7.72 g fat
- 23.90 g carbohydrate
- 3.6 g fibre
- 3.10 g sugar
- 120 mg calcium
- 28.50 mg iron
- 195 mg magnesium
- 118 mg phosphorus
- 1363 mg potassium
- 1048 mg sodium
- 2.00 mg zinc
- 10.1 mg vitamin C
- 2.380 mg thiamin
- 3.670 mg riboflavin
- 12.820 mg niacin
- 0.364 mg vitamin B6
- 94 mcg folate
- 570 IU vitamin A
- 5.00 mg vitamin E
- 25.5 mcg vitamin K
Health Benefits Of Spirulina
1. Prevents cancer
The powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of spirulina can help prevent cancer and other diseases by protecting the body against oxidative damage. The main component phycocyanin, an antioxidant found in spirulina, can fight free radicals and stop the production of inflammatory signalling molecules  .
2. Improves heart health
Spirulina has been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and reduce cholesterol levels. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture showed that, people with high cholesterol who consumed 1 g of spirulina per day had a decrease in their triglyceride levels by 16.3% and bad cholesterol levels by 10.1%  .
3. Alleviates sinus problems
According to a study, spirulina lowers inflammation that causes sinus problems  . It has been proved effective in reducing nasal congestion, sneezing, nasal discharge, and itching.
4. Aids in weight loss
Spirulina is a high-nutrient, low-calorie food that helps in managing weight. A scientific study suggests that spirulina helps in weight management. In the study, overweight people who ate spirulina for 3 months showed an improvement in BMI  .
5. Manages diabetes
A 2018 study showed that spirulina supplements can significantly lower people's fasting blood glucose levels in type 1 and type 2 diabetes  .
6. Boosts energy
Consuming spirulina may help in boosting your metabolism, which in turn, makes you energetic. A study showed that people who took 6 g of spirulina per day experienced positive metabolic effects  . The algae are also beneficial in improving muscle strength and endurance.
7. Reduces depression and anxiety levels
Spirulina could help treat mood disorders and mental health conditions like depression and anxiety because it's a source of tryptophan, an amino acid that supports serotonin production. Serotonin plays a major role in mental health.
8. Prevents anaemia
Spirulina supplements increase haemoglobin and improve immune function . However, more research is needed to further prove whether spirulina actually helps prevent anaemia or not.
9. Antitoxic in nature
A review study published in the Pharmaceutical Biology found that spirulina has anti-toxic properties that could counteract pollutants in the body like lead, iron, arsenic, fluoride, and mercury  .
Side Effects Of Spirulina
Contaminated spirulina can cause liver damage, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, weakness, thirst, rapid heartbeat, shock and even death.
Ways To Include Spirulina Into Your Diet
- Powdered spirulina can be added in smoothies and juices.
- Sprinkle powdered spirulina on salads or soups.
- You can also take spirulina as a dietary supplement in tablet form.
-  Karkos, P. D., Leong, S. C., Karkos, C. D., Sivaji, N., & Assimakopoulos, D. A. (2011). Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications.Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM,2011, 531053.
-  Mazokopakis, E. E., Starakis, I. K., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Mavroeidi, N. G., & Ganotakis, E. S. (2014). The hypolipidaemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population: a prospective study.Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture,94(3), 432-437.
-  Sayin, I., Cingi, C., Oghan, F., Baykal, B., & Ulusoy, S. (2013). Complementary therapies in allergic rhinitis.ISRN allergy,2013, 938751.
-  Miczke, A., Szulinska, M., Hansdorfer-Korzon, R., Kregielska-Narozna, M., Suliburska, J., Walkowiak, J., & Bogdanski, P. (2016). Effects of spirulina consumption on body weight, blood pressure, and endothelial function in overweight hypertensive Caucasians: a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial.Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci,20(1), 150-6.
-  Huang, H., Liao, D., Pu, R., & Cui, Y. (2018). Quantifying the effects of spirulina supplementation on plasma lipid and glucose concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure.Diabetes, metabolic syndrome and obesity : targets and therapy,11, 729–742.
-  Mazokopakis, E. E., Papadomanolaki, M. G., Fousteris, A. A., Kotsiris, D. A., Lampadakis, I. M., & Ganotakis, E. S. (2014). The hepatoprotective and hypolipidemic effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) supplementation in a Cretan population with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a prospective pilot study.Annals of Gastroenterology: Quarterly Publication of the Hellenic Society of Gastroenterology,27(4), 387.
-  Selmi, C., Leung, P. S., Fischer, L., German, B., Yang, C. Y., Kenny, T. P., … Gershwin, M. E. (2011). The effects of Spirulina on anemia and immune function in senior citizens.Cellular & molecular immunology,8(3), 248–254.
-  Martínez-Galero, E., Pérez-Pastén, R., Perez-Juarez, A., Fabila-Castillo, L., Gutiérrez-Salmeán, G., & Chamorro, G. (2016). Preclinical antitoxic properties of Spirulina (Arthrospira).Pharmaceutical biology,54(8), 1345-1353.