Superfood: Spirulina

Spirulina (Arthrospira) is a genus of cyanobacteria. It is a blue-green alga of the order Oscillatorium, some varieties of which are eaten. Two main species, Arthrospira platensis, and Arthrospira maxima have entered the market and are commercially known as spirulina.

Chemical composition of spirulina

Dried spirulina contains 51 to 71% protein. It is a complete protein that contains all the essential amino acids required by the human body.

The concentration of cysteine, lysine, and methionine in algae is lower than in meat, milk, and eggs. But compared to plant protein products, spirulina is the absolute leader.

1 g of spirulina contains 1 mg of iron, which is vital for the human hematopoietic system (it is a part of hemoglobin, red blood cells, and enzymes, which is important for the immune system and general energy metabolism) and this iron is completely absorbed by the body (we get the same amount of iron by eating 200 g of the liver). A tablespoon of spirulina powder contains as much iron as 50 medium apples. Experts say that taking 4 g of spirulina per day provides a rapid increase in hemoglobin in the blood.
Spirulina contains 10 to 20% sugars (carbohydrates), which are easily digested and require minimal amounts of insulin.

Algae contain only 5-7% fat, consisting mainly of healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids. In particular, gamma-linolenic acid (found only in spirulina and in breast milk) is essential for the prevention and treatment of arthritis. In combination with vitamin E, this acid improves the function of the reproductive system and promotes the onset and normal course of pregnancy, and after childbirth – milk production.

Spirulina is enriched with macro- and microelements necessary for normal metabolic processes in the body. The most important “living” vitamins A, C, E, PP, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, and others are concentrated in spirulina in optimal proportions.

Spirulina contains 40-150 times more B vitamins than milk, cheese, raw meat, fish, eggs, and butter, and during heat treatment of these animal products, B vitamins are destroyed by 30-40%. Folic acid (vitamin B) is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin, and thiamine (B1) strengthens the nervous system, reduces fatigue, and normalizes sleep and heart rate. Inositol (B8) maintains a healthy liver, promotes the elimination of carcinogens, and normalizes cholesterol levels.

Spirulina is the richest product of nature in terms of beta-carotene content, it contains 10 times more than carrots (beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A as a result of oxidative processes). Studies have shown that beta-carotene lowers cholesterol, heals wounds, and fights tumors.

Spirulina is also rich in vitamin E (tocopherol is a vitamin of youth, it is 3 times more than in wheat sprouts). In terms of vitamin PP content, spirulina is far superior to beef liver, kidneys, tongue, poultry, and rabbit meat.

The mineral content of spirulina varies depending on the place of growth and the presence of certain minerals in the growing environment, but in any case, spirulina is a record holder in the content of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, manganese and other trace elements. All of them are easily absorbed by the body.

Spirulina contains three pigments: phycocyanin, chlorophyll, and carotenoids, which help the body synthesize many enzymes necessary for regulating metabolism in the body.

The most important of these is the blue-blue pigment phycocyanin. According to Japanese and American doctors, this pigment stops the growth of cancer cells.

Phycocyanin, tocopherols, beta-carotene, vitamins B1 and B6, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and other substances in spirulina are powerful antioxidants, i.e. they resist free radicals and thus slow down the processes of oxidation and aging.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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