By: Tayler Glenn
With the increasing awareness of the need for good foods and a healthy lifestyle, we’re looking to new heights and new depths, literally. Spirulina is the latest superfood that deserves a spot on your radar and this one comes right from the depths of the ocean. This blue-green algae is incredibly good for you, and we’ve got the lowdown on its benefits and how to use it below!
What Is Spirulina?
While it is absurdly healthy, these algae are often overlooked or misunderstood. Spirulina is a type of bacteria called cyanobacterium, which is often referred to as blue-green algae. This blue-green algae is a freshwater plant that is now one of the most researched and talked about superfoods today. Grown around the world in tropical areas from Mexico to Africa and even Hawaii, this plant grows in microscopic spirals that stick together, making it easy to harvest. It has an intense blue-green color, but a relatively mild taste which allows it to be used in a number of products you may already be using!
Since the Aztecs, people across the globe have consumed spirulina as part of their diets for decades. But, it wasn’t until the 1970s that the World Food Conference declared it as one of the “best foods for the future”. Once it became a staple for the diets of NASA’s astronauts due to its superior nutritional profile, it’s popularity began to grow! Now, you can find it in:
- Energy bars
- and Desserts!
What Are the Benefits of Spirulina?
It’s Packed with Micro-Nutrients!
Spirulina is renowned for its intense, unique flavor and even more for its impressive list of benefits. Currently, there are nearly 1,700 peer-reviewed scientific articles supporting the impacts it can have on your health and wellness! This tiny organism is incredibly high in protein and a good source of:
- Essential amino acids
- Vitamins A, B, C, D + E
- Iron content
and more! These nutrients that can have powerful effects on your body and brain.
It’s an Ideal Supplementation for Plant-Based Diets!
The high-powered nutritional profile of spirulina makes it a wonderful supplement for vegans and vegetarians who may be missing these essential micronutrients. Spirulina contains all of the essential amino acids and packs 65% of protein by weight! This makes it an ideal plant-based protein source to mix up the typical plant-based protein sources like nuts, beans, and soy. In fact, most of those plant-based proteins sources don’t even compare to the protein delivered by spirulina!
While it is more expensive than mean or beans, combining it with other less expensive protein sources allows you to get the best of both worlds.
It Has Powerful Antioxidant Properties
Oxidative damage can harm our DNA and cells which contributes to chronic inflammation and a host of other negative health effects. Antioxidants have been shown to help protect against this oxidative damage, which is one reason antioxidants have been a front-runner on the health and wellness scene for years!
Thankfully, spirulina is a great source of antioxidants. The main active component is called phycocyanin – this antioxidant substance is also what gives spirulina its unique color – and it helps fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signaling molecules!
It May Offer Allergy Relief
Spirulina, with its host of vitamins and antioxidants, have actually been shown to help with those pesky allergy symptoms! Yes, the stuffy nose and watery eyes that seem to stick around for ages during our favorite seasons.
A study on rats showed that when the rats were given spirulina, their allergy subsided to a great extent. According to the study, spirulina was able to help reduce histamine secretion which is precisely what the anti-histamines at the drugstore are formulated to do! Another study (don’t worry, this one was conducted on humans!) found that spirulina helped improve symptoms such as sneezing, nasal discharge, itching, and congestion when compared to a placebo! Although spirulina powder does seem to benefits allergies, more studies are needed to fully understand how exactly this alga helps.
Improves Workout Capacity + Muscle Endurance
Physical activity is important for not only weight loss, but overall health and wellness! But if you’re someone who is just getting started or know a 3-miler tends to feel a whole lot more like 13, we’ve got good news; studies have shown that spirulina helps to improve exercise ability and muscle endurance!
In the study, a group of men accustomed to a training regimen received a spirulina supplement for 4 weeks. They then had to exercise and note their performance. After 4 weeks, they took a break from the supplement before returning to a placebo for an additional 4 weeks.
The results? There was a noticeable difference! The participants found that they were able to work out for longer periods of time and their performance actually improved!
It Can Support Weight Loss!
It’s becoming common knowledge that the regular consumption of protein-rich, nutrient-dense foods is an important stepping stone for weight loss and lowering fat stores. Spirulina being such a protein-rich and nutrient-dense food does this in a number of ways by being:
- High in fiber
This is important for helping you feel fuller for longer and curbing hunger to prevent the temptation of unhealthy snacks.
- Taking more energy to metabolize
Eating foods that are protein-rich, high in protein like this one, helps to maintain lean tissue while contributing to fat burning. Of course, it’s not very effective if the rest of your lifestyle is unhealthy.
By maintaining a healthy, balanced lifestyle and adding in a dose of spirulina each day, you could be boosting your weight loss efforts!
Ideas to Get Started:
TLS® Shake with Spirulina
Instead of your usual shake, try adding a half-teaspoon of spirulina to your TLS® Shake before a workout or in the morning for breakfast! It will be rather satiating and help increase your energy levels to make you feel ready to tackle the day!
It’s important to have healthy snacks with you when you’re on the go or at the office, especially when there are so many unhealthy options close-by! To help keep your energy up and avoid temptation, try checking out our TLS Blog for some recipes you can add some spirulina to, or try the recipe below!
- 1 cup pitted dates
- 2 tsp virgin coconut oil
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 tbsp organic spirulina
- Process pitted dates + coconut oil in the food processor until fine + crumbly
- Add the spirulina powder and pulse once to mix
- Create small balls with the mixture, and roll in chia seeds
- Store in the refrigerator for maximum two weeks.
What are your favorite ways to use spirulina in foods and recipes?
Tell us in the comments below!