10 Reasons You Should be Eating Algae
I doubt you have considered adding marine algae (the slimy stuff you see on the beach) to your morning beverage.
Yet if you’re looking to boost immunity, get quality protein, help your heart function better and detox the body then this may be what you are looking for.
Eating algae has a ton of health benefits.
They are very nutrient dense with high concentrations of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, protein and nutrients.
For this reason, algae have become known as “superfoods”.
Throughout history, algae have long been consumed as both food and medicine.
Dive into the health benefits of this sea food and gain the health benefits of its extensive array of nutrients.
What are algae?
Algae are a group of aquatic organisms, found in both freshwater and saltwater, that produce oxygen through the process of Photosynthesis.
The algae group includes both cyanobacteria (the blue-green algae) and eukaryotes (all other algae types). Interestingly, chloroplasts (found in most land plants) are adapted forms of cyanobacteria, which give plants their health-promoting properties.
The most common type of algae that most people know of is seaweed or dulse. Other popular (very healthy) types include chlorella and spirulina.
What are the ten health benefits to consuming algae superfoods like chlorella or spirulina?
- 1. They are a good source of protein
Algae, like chlorella and spirulina, contain a wide array of amino acids, making them a good source of protein.They contain all 9 of the essential amino acids and are considered a complete protein.
- 2. They boost immunity
Research has shown that algae may have immune- stimulating effects.One study showed that chlorella1 and spirulina2 can directly or indirectly regulate immunity by increasing Natural Killer cell activity and producing regulatory immune proteins.
- 3. They can lower inflammation
Algae are anti-inflammatory. Inflammation and oxidative stress can damage our cells and lead to chronic diseases such as heart disease.Both spirulina and chlorella are naturally high sources of antioxidants, which fight off inflammation and oxidation. The antioxidants responsible for this protection are the ones that give them their signature green or blue-green colors.One study showed that chlorella is anti-inflammatory as it can inhibit the production of inflammatory proteins and the authors suggest it could replace pharmaceutical steroids in treating systemic inflammation3. Another study revealed that spirulina is highly anti-inflammatory, as well, and can regulate inflammatory pathways and activate key antioxidant enzymes4.
- 4. Algae anti-cancer
Algae have anti-cancer properties because they can slow the progression of cancer cells.Studies have shown that spirulina could reduce the size of tumor cells and could be used in the prevention of cancer5. Chlorella has also been found to have the similar effects. Research has shown that chlorella has the ability to induce cell death and is chemopreventative6.
- 5. They lower blood pressure
One of the main cardioprotective mechanisms of spirulina is its ability to increase nitric oxide, dilate blood vessels and boost blood flow7.Studies have shown that the consumption of algae like spirulina7 and chlorella8 can directly decrease blood pressure and promote heart health.
- 6. Algae can reduce cholesterol and protect LDL from becoming oxidized
Research has shown that spirulina can decrease levels of LDL7 and total triglycerides9. Additionally, chlorella has also been shown to have the same lipid lowering effects on LDL and triglycerides10.Studies have also shown that the antioxidants in algae can also protect LDL from becoming oxidized11, which is one of the main risk factors for heart disease and blockages.
- 7. They detox heavy metals
Both chlorella and spirulina have potent detoxification properties. They have both been shown to aid in eliminating harmful molecules and heavy metals from the body.
Evidence has shown that both chlorella and spirulina are able to decrease the toxic levels of heavy metals like cadmium or lead in specific organs like liver, kidneys and brain12.
Another study found that chlorella supplementation in mothers could benefit breast milk production by decreasing levels of the chemical dioxin and increasing levels of protective immunoglobulins13.
- 8. Algae is good for liver detoxification
CYP1 is a group of enzymes that breakdown carcinogens and toxins by activating major detoxification pathways in the liver.
Algae have been found to be nutrient inducers of this class of enzymes, which gives them their unique liver detoxification properties14.
- 9. They can aid in blood sugar control
Spirulina and chlorella have been shown to hold promise in controlling blood sugar levels both by reducing blood sugar levels and by improving the action of insulin.One study showed that treatment with spirulina over two months resulted in a significant reduction in fasting blood sugar and post-meal blood sugar levels15. In rat studies, chlorella supplementation has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity16.
- 10. They are a good source of antioxidants (beta-carotene) and other nutrients
In general, algae are one of the most nutrient dense food sources there is. They are exceedingly high in plant antioxidants (that come from the plant pigments that make them bright green in color!).Studies have shown that algae can significantly raise levels of glutathione and prevent oxidative stress in tissues17.Spirulina is also one of the richest sources of antioxidant beta-carotene. In fact, it has even more beta-carotene than carrots! B-carotene converts to vitamin A in the body and is involved in immune regulation and eye health.
What are some good sources of algae?
Two of the best and most researched forms of algae that have major health benefits are chlorella and spirulina. Chlorella and spirulina are in the same algae family yet they each have their own unique health benefits. Both of these superfoods help to heal and detoxify the body. When used together, they create a powerful combination duo!
Chlorella is a type of freshwater green algae. Chlorella is a eukaryote plant source of algae called chloroficean. It has a tough exterior wall that is hard to digest. When sourcing it, make sure it’s cracked-cell chlorella to ensure it will be absorbed. It is a rich source of vitamin B12, vitamin C, iron, antioxidants, and trace amounts of other B vitamins, calcium and potassium. Chlorella also contains essential omega 3 fatty acids, fiber and protein.
Spirulina is both a freshwater and saltwater blue-green algae. Spirulina is a cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that is technically considered bacteria. It is rich in vitamin B1, B2, B3 along with iron, copper and protein. It also contains trace amounts of other nutrients and minerals like potassium. Spirulina contains adequate amounts of omega 3 fatty acids and fiber. Additionally, spirulina is a potent source of the antioxidant beta-carotene (it has more beta carotene per serving than carrots!).
Chlorella and spirulina are two of the few plant-based sources of complete protein. They both also contain adequate levels of the plant pigment chlorophyll, which helps to lower inflammation, promote skin healing, and stimulate detoxification.
Should I supplement?
Due to the low nutrient status of the American diet along with daily exposures to chemicals and toxins, supplementing with algae superfoods is a must for good health. In today’s world, nutritional supplementation is often needed to prevent disease and maintain health.
Additionally, due to the tough, unbreakable wall of chlorella it must be consumed in a cracked-cell supplement form like ours in order to be properly absorbed.
We developed a custom blend of 50% organic cracked-cell chlorella and 50% organic spirulina called Superfood. Our Superfood product is a very bioavailable form that can be fully absorbed. It is also free from any pesticides or chemicals.
You can mix 1 teaspoon into a glass of water daily. Or try sprinkling into salads, soups or other recipes for a daily health kick.
Our Superfood supports healthy blood pressure, healthy cholesterol levels, immune system function as well as prevents cancer, and provides a good source of plant-based protein and antioxidants.
What are some algae-rich recipes to try?
- Coconut Spirulina Superfood Smoothie (Pro tip: Use our Superfood for spirulina and Daily Defense for protein here)
- Green Dream Chlorella Cream (Pro tip: Use our Superfood to get both spirulina and chlorella in the recipe!)
- Cashew, Kale and Chlorella Pesto (Pro tip: Use Superfood for both spirulina and chlorella benefits)
- Organic Superfood Salad (Pro tip: Make this salad for breakfast and add in an extra serving of our Daily Greens, which has organic leafy greens, antioxidants and probiotics to give your morning the right start!)
Summary of information:
- If you aren’t taking algae, you are missing out on the many health benefits and nutrients found in these marine SUPERfoods.
- Algae can lower inflammation, increase immunity, stimulate detoxification, regulate blood pressure, protect cholesterol levels and even help control blood sugar.
- Supplementation is a good idea to get the full benefits. Try out our Superfood with organic varieties of chlorella and spirulina for an easy and health-protective addition to your day!
- Kwak et al., 2012: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3511195/
- Hirahashi et al., 2002: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11962722
- Sibi et al., 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27034602
- Wu et al., 2016: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27259333
- Ismail et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2695150/
- Mohd et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19198018
- Oropeza et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19298191
- Fallah et al., 2017: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261561417313511
- Mazokopakis et al., 2014: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23754631
- Ryu et al., 2014: https://nutritionj.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1475-2891-13-57
- Ismail et al., 2015: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4320919/
- Zhai et al., 2015: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4303853/
- Nakano et al., 2007: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17472477/
- Hodges et al., 2015: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488002/
- Parikh et al., 2001: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12639401
- Jeong et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2788164/
- Vijalavel et al., 2007: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17457522