Spirulina is a type of blue-green micro-algae grown and harvested from very alkaline water sources. It was long used by the Aztecs as a food source because of it’s potent nutrient content, hence the reason it’s known as a “superfood”. Spirulina is commonly found in several forms; tablets (which are chewable), fine powder, flakes, and pills or capsules (I personally prefer to use spirulina freeze-dried powder). Spirulina tastes unique as if nutty flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and slightly sweet seaweed were mixed together.
Not only do I love the nutrition punch spirulina provides, but it also has an array of other health benefits such as: antioxidant content, anti inflammatory properties, boosts immune function, protects the liver, reduces allergic reactions, improves muscle endurance and oxidative stress, reduces oral cancer, and may also help fight infections and antibiotics related illnesses.
How to use | add into smoothies, desserts, fresh juices, or water for a boost of nutrition. I use spirulina in several recipes including Spirulina Energy Globes.
Nutrient breakdown of SPIRULINA | *per 100g ~less than 1 cup
Protein | 50-70% by weight of bioavailable, easy to digest protein- per 100g contains 57g of protein (!)
Amino acids | contains all amino acids, including essential amino acids, a “complete” protein
Healthy fats | mostly in the form of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Omega-3 fatty acids | linolenic acid, 0.8g/100g
Omega-6 fatty acids | linoleic acid, GLA 1.2g/100g
Vitamin B12 | Special Note: the form of B12 found in spirulina is a psuedovitamin B12, therefore is not a reliable source of B12 for humans as it’s inactive. The B12 is considered an analogue, which does not have the same bioavailability as animal sources of B12.
Vitamin A | 11% Dv
Vitamin C | 17% DV
Vitamin K | 32% DV
Vitamin E | 25% DV
B vitamins | B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), folic acid, B5
Carotenoids | beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin
Copper | 305% DV
Calcium | 12% DV
Iron | 158% DV
Magnesium | 49% DV
Potassium | 39% DV
Manganese | 95% DV
Zinc | 13% DV
Selenium | 10% DV
Where to purchase | health food stores, grocery stores, farmers markets, or online retailers (Organic Burst, here, or here) .
Tips and tricks | When purchasing spirulina, keep in mind to purchase only organic varieties that are processed at very low heat (to retain the maximum nutrition). Since spirulina is grown and comes from water, free toxins floating in the water and more susceptible to contamination of heavy metals surround it. These toxins, called microcystins, can be mostly be avoided by purchasing from a trusted brand who grows it organically. Notice I say mostly, there are some studies (and here) that show some less than beneficial characteristics of spirulina.
Also, I recommend storing spirulina in the freezer in a dark glass or dark area to keep optimally fresh. For more information and review of this nourishing food, check out my Spotlight On Spirulina post.