6 Benefits of Spirulina: Spirulina Nutrition is One-of-a-Kind

What is Spirulina?

​Spirulina is a blueish green, single cell, freshwater algae that's not actually a true algae.

Let me clarify.

Spirulina is not a true algae in biological terms since its genetic material isn't organized in a membrane-bound nucleus.

Technically, spirulina is actually a cyanobacteria (I know, it keeps getting grosser) but it still uses the sun as an energy source like plants do. 

what is spirulina

That puts spirulina in a class of its own, as a unique bluish-green algae that's actually a cyanobacteria.

If that's strange and confusing - that's okay.

What you're here for, after all, is to find out what spirulina can do for you, right?

And this little bacteria can do a lot - in fact, despite its "bacteria" status, this stuff packs a very complete nutritional profile, containing fiber, protein (it's about 70% protein!), vitamins (including B vitamins and carotenoids), essential and trace minerals, essential fatty acids, nucleic acids, polysaccharides, and antioxidants.

And it's packing quite a few health perks...

6 Benefits of Spirulina

Before we get into the many spirulina benefits, I just want to remind you that 'though chlorella and spirulina are often confused since they're both beneficial algae - they do have different structures and health benefits. 

You can read all about the unique chlorella benefits here as well as an in-depth article that goes into the chlorella vs spirulina debate. Okay, back to spirulina benefits...​

1. Spirulina is packing highly bioavailable nutrients​

the many benefits of spirulina

One of the biggest differences between chlorella vs spirulina and one of the best spirulina benefits is that unlike chlorella, spirulina has a perfectly digestible cell wall made of mucopolysaccharides instead of indigestible cellulose, which makes it readily available for consumption and easily and immediately digested and absorbed.

Result? Spirulina's rich nutrients are highly bioavailable and easily assimilated into the body.​

2. Spirulina is Rich in Complete Protein

To continue this chlorella vs spirulina debate - chlorella's not shabby in the protein department (it's about 50% protein), but spirulina has it beat.

Spirulina is 70% full protein, making it one of the best all-natural, vegan sources of protein. To top it off, it provides all 8 essential amino acids, making spirulina a complete protein. And since spirulina is easily digestible, its high protein content - and all the amino acids - can be efficiently used by your body.​

3. Spirulina is a rare Vegan Source of Vitamin B12

Spirulina is one of the very few plant sources of essential vitamin B12 - a nutrient mostly found in animal products like meat, shellfish, eggs, and dairy.

Most meat-eaters will already get enough vitamin B12 through their diet, but vegans can be deficient in vitamin B12.

Vitamin B12 is needed by the body for a number of crucial functions like converting carbs into glucose to be used for energy, regulating the nervous system, aiding in cell reproduction and renewal, as well as keeping your nerves and red blood cells healthy.​

Health saving spirulina benefits

So if you're vegan, a spirulina supplement is a stupid simple way of making sure your B12 needs are met.

4. ​Spirulina Protects Cardiovascular Health

spirulina health benefits that make it a superfood

A study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology found that spirulina was able to prevent atherosclerosis and reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease in animals that were fed a high-cholesterol diet.

Similar to chlorella, spirulina is effective in reducing blood lipid levels.​

5. Spirulina is Rich in Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA)

This one's a biggie since very few foods contain GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid that's crucial for reproductive health, growth and development, metabolism regulation, brain function, bone health, and even skin and hair growth.

GLA is also known to prevent and ease painful inflammations in the system, especially in the case of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

We normally get our GLA by foods that supply linoleic acid and then out bodies convert that into GLA, but spirulina offers the full form of the essential fatty acid, allowing for efficient absorption and effect.​

6. Spirulina contains a unique phytochemical called phycocyanin

Spirulina gets its unique blueish hue from a phytochemical called phycocyanin, which is unique to spirulina and has been found to support brain function, boost heart health, strengthen the immune system and help the bone marrow in building blood cells.

This unique phytochemical is also converted by our bodies into phycocyanorubin, an antioxidant that protects our tissues from free radical damage.​

benefits of spirulina

Spirulina Weight Loss: Does it Work?

Spirulina has been linked to weight loss recently but you should know that most of its weight loss benefits stem from its high protein content.

Protein slows down how quickly food moves through your digestive system and stabilizes blood sugar levels, effectively helping you feel full longer.

Protein also requires more energy to break down, thus consuming more calories in the digestive process and revving up metabolism.

A study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise also reports that spirulina's antioxidant properties may also improve physical performance, in addition to increasing fat oxidation and delaying fatigue.​

Where to Buy Spirulina

where to buy spirulina

For spirulina, my brand of choice is hands down Nutrex's Hawaiian Spirulina. It is by far the best-tasting, best-quality spirulina I've tried...and at a good price.

And whereas Nutrex's spirulina is not organic**, it is US-grown and produced, using pure ocean water and at a high-tech spirulina production favility on the island of Hawaii. It's also dried at low temperatures to ensure the nutrients are kept intact.

The quality of Nutrex's spirulina is consistenly great - this is the only spirulina brand I'd recommend at this time.

chlorella and spirulina tablets

Chlorella and spirulina share a range of similar benefits - immune boost, gut health, cell protection - but each also has its own set of distinctive, precious health perks that are heard to overlook.

Easy solution? Take both.

Take spirulina regularly for its immune-boosting, nutrition-rich benefits and chlorella for its chlorophyll-rich, heavy-metal-and-toxin-detoxifying cleanse benefits. 

Sunlit's 50/50 Chlorella and Spirulina tablets are the best choice - 100% pure, raw, and organic.​

**I usually recommend organic supplements and believe me - I've tried the available organic spirulina powders on the market - but they are simply not palatable. Do comment if you know otherwise!

About the Author Jessica

After growing up a perpetually pudgy kid, Jessica discovered real food - and her waistline shortly afterward. When she's not crafting concoctions in the kitchen, she spends her free time writing about food, making her own deodorant, watching sci-fi, doing headstands, and looking for gluten free food that doesn't suck.

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