The shelves of health food stores are over populated with superfood powers at the moment and every week there’s a new one claiming to supercharge our health, but spirulina is one that seems to be standing the test of time.
Despite being used for centuries by Aztecs, the popularity of spirulina in the western world has only risen over the past few years and thanks to its array of potent health benefits it manages to rank as one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. It’s actually a form of algae – with a similar nutritional value to other sea vegetables such as chorella, which is produced through the process of photosynthesis. Spirulina’s high chlorophyll content is what is responsible for its distinct emerald-green colour and also makes it excellent at detoxifying the body. This pretty powder is packed full of nutrients from iron, to B vitamins and protein, all of which will help you feel more energised, boost your immunity, protect against chronic illnesses and leave your skin glowing.
Despite its abundance of benefits, it’s easy to understand why this is the one superfood that brings in the most skeptics; the thought of eating something that grows on top of a pond didn’t exactly appeal to me at first either, but once you learn how it’s ‘fresh’ taste can work in recipes and you see its benefits for yourself, it will quickly become a staple in your diet. Whether you add a tsp to your smoothie, take it straight from a shot glass or consumer your spirulina in capsule form, it’s sure to leaving you glowing from the inside, out.
5 benefits of spirulina
- High in Protein Spirulina is around 60-70% protein, which is even more than some animal products such as chicken which is only 25-30%. And not only that but it is also considered to a be a complete protein, as it is a source of all 9 essential amino acids. A tablespoon of spirulina boasts 4g of highly absorbable plant protein, making it a great addition to a plant-based diet.
- Rich in B Vitamins Whilst I’m usually quick to argue that it’s easy to source vitamins and minerals on a plant-based diet, when it comes to B vitamins it all becomes a little more complicated. B vitamins are most commonly found in animal products such as eggs, meat and fish but spirulina is an amazing source if you’re vegan as a single tbsp serving contains 11% of the RDA of Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine which is necessary for the digestion of fats and proteins and 15% of the RDA of Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin which is essential for energy, eye health and brain function. In addition spirulina contains vitamins B3, B6 and B9.
- Improves heart health Heart disease is one of the biggest killers, with high cholesterol and blood pressure levels being two major triggers. Spirulina has proven to be beneficial in preventing atherosclerosis (a hardening of the arteries caused by high cholesterol levels) and decreasing risk rates for cardiovascular diseases. Spirulina has also proven to help reduce blood pressure levels, which is thought to be as a result of its ability to increase production of nitric oxide – a molecule which helps the blood vessels to relax and dilate.
- High in Iron A tbsp of spirulina contains 11% of your RDA of iron, making it amazing for maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails whilst also contributing to proper liver function and a normal functioning immune system. It is essential that we consume enough iron, as low levels can lead to anemia – a deficiency which presents itself through symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, dizziness and shortness of breath
- Leaves your skin glowing Thanks to its high antioxidant content and detoxifying properties, spirulina is amazing for boosting your skin health. It contains incredibly high concentrations of Vitamins E and D, iodine, iron, manganese, zinc and many important fatty acids, all of which contribute towards a glowing complexion.
I’m definitely not brave enough to start my day with a spirulina shot, but I still like to get my daily fix so instead, I incorporate these 5 quick and easy recipes into my diet throughout the week – they provide you with all of spirulina’s amazing benefits without tasting like you’re drinking straight from a pond. And if these delicious ideas don’t appeal to you either, spirulina is now so popular that its even available in capsule form!
5 uses for spirulina
- Add a tsp to your chocolate nice cream at breakfast time, you won’t even taste it!
- Mix a scoop of Vivo Life’s Thrive with water and enjoy in the morning. This raw green superfood powder doesn’t only include spirulina, but an array of other superfoods including wheatgrass, chlorella and moringa to ensure that you hit your daily micronutrient goals whilst boosting your digestion and energy levels. Not only does it save time and money, but the addition of baobab, acai and freeze-dried blueberries means that it tastes great too.
- Add a tsp to your breakfast smoothie.
- Sprinkle over your salad.
- Mix into your favourite pesto and serve with gluten-free pasta or butter beans.
What are your favourite ways to incorporate spirulina in to your diet? Leave them in the comments below or let me know on Instagram @nourishingyas x