Superfood Spotlight: Spirulina

spirulina

Spirulina is a type of bacteria called cyanobacterium, which is often referred to as blue-green algae. Just like plants, cyanobacteria can produce energy out of sunlight, via the process called photosynthesis. The blue-green spiral-shaped algae, usually harvested in warmer climates such as Africa and South America, is now grown in many local regions. Spirulina is an organism that grows in both fresh and saltwater.

Spirulina was consumed by the Aztecs back in the day, but became popular again when NASA proposed that it could be grown in space and used by astronauts. It may be the single most nutrient-dense food on earth. It also contains good amounts of magnesium, potassium and manganese, and small amounts of almost every other nutrient that we need.

A single tablespoon (7 grams, 20 calories) of dried Spirulina powder contains:

  • Protein: 4 grams (and contains all of the essential amino acid)
  • Fat: 1 gram (including both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in about a 1.5:1 ratio)
  • Digestible Carb: 1.7 grams
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin): 11% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): 15% of the RDA
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin): 4% of the RDA
  • Copper: 21% of the RDA
  • Iron: 11% of the RDA

Benefits:
• Has Powerful Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties
• Can lower total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising HDL (the “good”) cholesterol.
• Antioxidants in Spirulina appear to be particularly effective at reducing lipid peroxidation
• Spirulina is a powerful detoxifier, owing to high levels of chlorophyll and its ability to remove toxins from the blood and improve bowel and liver function.
• Fights Allergies and irritations from dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and many more
• Spirulina may have some anti-cancer properties, especially against a type of precancerous lesion called OSMF (oral submucous fibrosis)
• A higher dose of Spirulina has been shown to lead to lower blood pressure levels,
• Spirulina actually improves both cognitive ability and mental health.
• Some studies have shown that Spirulina supplementation can enhance endurance, and one study shows that it can increase muscle strength.

How to use the powder: Mix 1 tsp into fresh juices and smoothies, add it to soups or dips, like hummus or pesto!

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