Discover spirulina – this superfood algae has been consumed since ancient times and now enjoys star status among nutritionists worldwide.
Studies suggest that spirulina could indeed be a “superfood”, and research is ongoing on the benefits of these blue-green microscopic algae, which grow in naturally alkaline lakes. Not only does spirulina provide protein, it’s also an excellent source of B-vitamins and iron.
The spirulina sold in health shops nowadays comes mostly from commercial spirulina farms.
History and discovery
Spirulina grows in both fresh and salt water and has been dried and eaten since ancient times in countries as diverse as Chad and Mexico. It’s said that Hernando Cortez saw in 1519 that the Aztecs were eating these algae. It’s thought that spirulina dried into cakes was the primary source of protein for the Aztecs for hundreds of years.
Explorer Pierre Dangeard published a report in a journal in 1940 on this seemingly nutritious algae eaten by people living around Lake Chad. Twenty years later, botanist Jean Leonard made the connection between the algae and the green cakes sold in the markets in this area. He remarked that 70% of the food people ate in this area was accompanied by a sauce made from these cakes.
The first spirulina commercial production plant was set up by the French in 1969 close to Lake Texcoco in Mexico. It isn’t easy to grow as the ecology of the pond/lake in which it is growing has to remain stable and uncontaminated by things such as chemical fertilisers. It grows in warm climates and needs bright sunshine, a pure water source and a pollution-free environment. It yields over 20 times more protein than soybeans, utilising the same space.
Spirulina easily absorbs the nutrients from the water in which it grows, so it should never be harvested from water that is polluted, or contains heavy metals.
There are many different spirulina species, but the two used most frequently used in commercial products are Spirulina maxima and Spirulina Platensis.
Health Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina is a rich source of plant-based protein, iron, vitamin B12 and chlorophyll, and has 4 times more antioxidants than blueberries.
While scientists continue to explore the extent of it's health benefits, spirulina has been linked to the following:
• It may reduce arsenic levels in the body.
• It may relieve allergy symptoms in adults.
• It may reduce blood sugar levels in diabetics.
• It may lower cholesterol levels.
• It lowers anxiety and depression in menopausal women.
How to include it in your diet
Spirulina is available in either tablets or powder. If taken as a powder, it’s recommended that it be taken with water and not milk or juice or other beverages. Powdered spirulina is usually less expensive than spirulina in tablet form, as the production process is simpler. Powder is easier to digest than tablets.
Take note: It is always a good idea to consult your doctor prior to making any changes to your diet, especially in the case of children and expectant mothers. If you’re allergic to seafood, steer clear of spirulina. If you’re taking spirulina tablets, make sure that you follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.
Sources: australianspirulina.com.au, WebMD.com, naturalnews.com, Livestrong.com
Image via Thinkstock.
This post is sponsored by Bioglan Superfoods.
Bioglan Superfoods Spirulina Powder makes it easy to reap the incredible benefits of raw foods that nature intended for us to enjoy, everyday - and it tastes great! Simply mix it into a glass of water, or try one of these delicious Bioglan Superfoods Recipes: