by Amanda Ennett; FitLife.tv
Spirulina is the secret of the sea, super food source of the Aztecs, and a great source of protein for non-meat-eaters. It has higher levels of key antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables. But what is it exactly, where does it come from and what the heck do you do with it?
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is a cyanobacteria, or better known as blue-green algae. It is rightfully named by its bright color. Many of these pigments may be beneficial and bioavailable, including beta-carotene and chlorophyll-a. Like land-dwelling plants, algae produces oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, it is also inherently chalked full of nutrient goodness.
Where Does Cyanobacteria Come From?
Cyanobacteria can be found in almost every terrestrial and aquatic habitat—oceans, fresh water, damp soil, temporarily moistened rocks in deserts, bare rock and soil, and even Antarctic rocks. Most commercialized American spirulina products are harvested off the shores of Hawaii and South America. They are then sold as powders, pills and flakes either as isolates or mixtures.
Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina contains nearly 60% protein making it a great candidate as a meat-alternative complete protein source. It is also said to be one of the only plant sources to contain B-12, a vital vitamin that most vegetarians lack in their diets. It is rich in healthy lipids such as ALA (omega 3), LA (omega 6), GLA (helps with inflammation) and DHA (primary component of the brain.).
Gram-per-gram Spirulina has:
- 3,100% more beta-carotene (Vit. A) than carrots.
- 5,500% more iron than spinach.
- 600% more protein than tofu.
- 280% more antioxidant potency than blueberries.
Spirulina also contains vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (nicotinamide), B6 (pyridoxine), B9 (folic acid), vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E.
It is a source of potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium, sodium and zinc.
- Alleviates allergy symptoms
- Strengthens the immune system
- Controls high blood pressure
- Controls cholesterol
- Protects against cancer
- Supports the growth of healthy bacterial flora in the gut
- Reduces the risk of cataracts and age related macular degeneration
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial
- Works antiviral activity against HIV, herpes, and hepatitis
- Improves insulin resistance
- Protects against chemotherapy induced liver damage
How to Use Spirulina
The easiest, most simple way to use it is by either swallowing the pill form or by adding ¼-1 tsp of the powder isolate into a smoothie. Start with small amounts, the flavor is a little sweet and not-so-delicious at first. Spirulina is also sold as a pre-flavored, packaged protein powder.
At my local health food store I was given the following recipe:
Spirulina Popcorn (prefect for a green holiday)
Pop 1 bag of popcorn and toss with 1 Tbsp Spirulina powder and garlic powder to taste.
NOTE: Please, please, please do NOT go out to your local pond and scoop algae up to eat… non-edible species of algae are detrimental to your health!!!!
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