Spirulina: A superfood with 9 health benefits.
Spirulina is a spiral-shaped blue-green colored alga (also known as “Cyanobacteria”). Why do we refer it as “Superfood”? Because the protein content in spirulina is around 50-70% which is more than more than beef, chicken, and soybeans. Also, it contains 8 essential and 10 non-essential amino acids, as well as high levels of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), beta-carotene, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, phosphorus, nucleic acids RNA & DNA, chlorophyll, and phycocyanin, a pigment-protein complex that is found only in blue-green algae.
Spirulina is a spiral-shaped microalga that grows naturally in the wild in warm, freshwater lakes. Its deep blue-green color is what gives the water its greenish hue. Spirulina is also cultivated and harvested in man-made reservoirs. 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.
1. It has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties-
It is a fantastic source of antioxidants, which can protect against oxidative damage. Oxidative leads to DNA damage which may eventually cause cancer or other dangerous diseases. The main active component is called phycocyanin. This antioxidant substance also gives spirulina its unique blue-green color. Phycocyanin can fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signaling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
2. Reduce Cholesterol level-
According to the sources, Its benefits have also been shown to prevent atherosclerosis and reduce elevated blood cholesterol levels. A recent animal study published in The Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology took rabbits, fed them a high cholesterol diet (HCD) containing 0.5 percent cholesterol for four weeks, and then fed them an HCD with 1 percent or 5 percent spirulina for an additional eight weeks.
After the eight-week trial was complete, LDL levels decreased by 26 percent in the group eating 1 percent of spirulina and 41 percent in the group eating 5 percent spirulina, which heavily suggests that the more we eat, the more benefits we will receive! Serum triglycerides and total cholesterol were also significantly reduced.
3. Aids in weight loss-
Diets high in nutrient-dense protein-rich foods like spirulina promote weight loss and low-fat stores through a variety of mechanisms. Because it takes more energy to metabolize, for example, eating protein helps maintain lean tissue and contributes to fat burning.
It can also curb hunger and overweight people seem to benefit the most. To maximize this benefit, try eating your high-protein spirulina in the morning or during midday instead of at night.
4. Decreases chances of stroke-
researchers also discovered that the spirulina supplementation lowered intimal aorta surface by 33 percent to 48 percent, which suggests that it can prevent atherosclerosis and subsequent stroke.
5. Prevents cancer-
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “A number of animal and test tube studies suggest that spirulina increases production of antibodies, infection-fighting proteins, and other cells that improve immunity and help ward off infection and chronic illnesses such as cancer.” This doesn’t come as a surprise as more than 70 peer-reviewed articles have been published in the scientific literature evaluating spirulina’s ability to affect cancer cells.
6. Boosts Energy-
Dr. Mehmet Oz recommends combining 1 teaspoon of spirulina powder with 12 ounces of lime juice and freezing the mixture in ice cube trays for a healthy boost. According to Dr. Oz, spirulina and lime enhance energy performance because they unlock sugar from our cells and, when frozen, the cold from the ice boosts metabolic energy while giving our bodies a “wake-up call.”
7. Effective against anemia-
Anemia is fairly common in the elderly, leading to prolonged feelings of weakness and fatigue. In a study of 40 older people with a history of anemia, spirulina supplementation increased the hemoglobin content of red blood cells. Immune function also improved. However, this is just one study, and more research is needed before any recommendations can be made.
8. Strengthen muscles-
Exercise-induced oxidative damage is a major contributor to muscle fatigue. Certain plant foods have antioxidant properties that can help athletes and physically active individuals minimize this damage. Spirulina appears to be beneficial, with some studies showing improved muscle strength and endurance. In two studies, spirulina was shown to enhance endurance, significantly increasing the time it took for people to become fatigued. Another study in college athletes found that spirulina supplementation increased muscle strength, but did not have any effect on endurance.
9. Lowers Blood Pressure
Phycocyanin is a pigment found in the spirulina that scientists have discovered possesses antihypertensive effects (it lowers blood pressure). Japanese researchers claim that this is because consuming the blue-green algae reverses endothelial dysfunction in metabolic syndrome.