The Health Benefits of Algae: Give Spirulina and Chlorella a Shot
You might already be in the practice of spooning spirulina powder into your morning smoothie to give it a beautiful emerald color and a boost of nutrients, but do you know all of the reasons why algae like spirulina or chlorella are so good for you?
Here are all the many reasons to add magical green algae dust into your daily routine, including everything from boosting immune function to sharpening mental acuity and even promoting clear skin.
What is Chlorella?
Chlorella is a freshwater, single-celled algae that contain photosynthetic pigments in its chloroplast. Although chlorella is similar to spirulina, when we compare their nutritionals, chlorella is higher than spirulina in zinc, iron, magnesium, vitamin B2, calories, fat, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chlorella contains all nine of the essential amino acids your body can't make on its own.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) and a potent source of phycocyanobilin. Spirulina is also nutrient-dense, like chlorella, and contains 10 percent more protein than chlorella, as well as more copper and thiamine, or vitamin B1. Similarly, it also delivers all nine essential amino acids your body needs for optimal function.
Although both of these algae are extremely nutrient-dense with only minor differences, chlorella has a slight nutritional advantage, with its higher levels of vitamins and fatty acids. Both of these tiny superfoods are great additions to any diet but since they may interact differently with your body depending on your needs, it's a matter of preference which one you add to your morning smoothie.
As always, consult your doctor before adding a supplement to your routine.
The Health Benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella
1. Spirulina and Chlorella Contain Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fish are thought of first as the best source of healthy Omega-3 fatty acids. But guess how the fish get this nutrient? By eating algae! A study that compared algae oil with a serving of cooked salmon found that they each have roughly the same content of Omega-3s, which are essential to supporting heart health, and have been found to lower blood pressure. Omega-3s have also been shown to increase dopamine and keep depression at bay.
2. Spirulina and Chlorella Deliver Essential Amino Acids
There are few plant-based foods that can provide all nine of the essential amino acids your body needs, but spirulina and chlorella both contain all nine. They are Isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, histidine, and valine.
These amino acids contribute to, a host of essential functions in your body such as tissue repair, nutrient absorption, muscle creation, and recovery from injury. You need them, and this is a great way to get them.
3. Spirulina and Chlorella Can Prevent Diseases
Chlorella has been shown to help prevent cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to one study, due to its carotenoid content and plant sterols. Research has also shown that spirulina may possess anti-cancer properties: In a study of 87 people with precancerous lesions of the mouth, taking a gram of spirulina supplement a day made 45 percent of the subjects' lesions disappear.
Spirulina can also have promising effects on a range of viruses, according to a report published by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. "In laboratory experiments, calcium spirulina, an extract from Spirulina, stopped [the] doubling of HIV virus, herpes simplex virus, cytomegalovirus, and influenza virus."
4. Spirulina and Chlorella Promote Healthy Skin
Spirulina helps facilitate quick cell turnover, which can help your body in the healing process. It can also prevent candida overgrowth, which helps your skin recover from rashes and acne breakouts.
Chlorella contains nutrients that are vital to collagen synthesis, which promotes healthy, elastic, even-toned skin. The chlorophyll in chlorella is even thought to help the body reverse radiation damage, as noted in a recent study.
The Best Spirulina and Chlorella Products
1. Chlorella Udon Noodles, Sun Chlorella
These chlorella-infused udon noodles are just as nutrient-dense as they are yummy, boasting five grams of protein per serving and 150 percent of your daily requirement of vitamin D. They're made in collaboration with a renowned noodle company, Ishimaru Seimen, so you can be sure you're getting top quality noodles.
Prepare them just like you would in traditional soups, stir-fries, or on their own. This is a great way to be sure you're getting the nutritional benefits of chlorella if you're someone who would rather not take a supplement. But if you're someone who would, Sun Chlorella has plenty of those on its website too.
Purchase the noodles on the Sun Chlorella website.
2. Spirulina Capsules by Vital Proteins
If you're looking for an easy, vegan way to get your dose of spirulina, these plant-derived capsules from Vital Proteins are a good place to start. Just one serving size contains 80 percent of your daily recommendation for vitamin A.
Purchase the capsules on the Vital Proteins website.
3. Chlorella Powder Supplement, Sun Potion
If you'd rather buy chlorella in its purest form to add to smoothies, juices, and other recipes, Sun Potion stocks top-quality chlorella that's 100 percent organic with a 50 percent protein content. Besides using the supplement in food and drinks, Sun Potion suggests trying to mix some powder into your favorite skin masks for a little extra radiance.
Buy it on the Sun Potion website.
4. Superfood Skin Reset Antioxidant Mask, Youth to the People
Youth The People specializes in synergizing powerful plants into top-notch skincare, and this mask featuring spirulina, microalgae, kale, and spinach is no exception. Customers are raving about the instant, glowy results, and love the creamy texture of this easy skin booster.
Purchase the mask online at Sephora.
For more research-backed health content, visit The Beet's Health & Nutrition articles.