Spirulina: a new ‘super food’?

Spirulina I spent a sporting morning out in the sunshine, and decided I was thirsty. I ordered this smoothie: ‘spirulina, kiwi fruit and banana smoothie’. I had no idea what spirulina was but it sounded harmless enough to me. Oh dear, I was in for a surprise!

Firstly I have to warn you it is a very strong taste, rather like you might expect pond weed / pond water to taste, not that pleasant. It’s also a rather bright green colour!

Having googled it thinking HECK what is this!? I found out some interesting things.

Spirulina is a microalgae that has been consumed for centuries due to its high nutritional value and supposed health benefits. Today, popular lifestyle personalities endorse Spirulina as a secret, potent “superfood,” a “miracle from the sea.”

Spirulina” sounds so much better than “pond scum,” but that’s what the popular supplement really is — a type of blue-green algae that grows naturally in oceans and salty lakes in subtropical climates. The Aztecs harvested Spirulina from Lake Texcoco in central Mexico, and it is still harvested from Lake Chad in west-central Africa and turned into dry cakes.

What to they THINK it does for us?

spirulina powderBlue-green algae are used as a source of dietary protein, B-vitamins, and iron. They are also used for weight loss, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), hayfever, diabetes, stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and other women’s health issues.

Some people use blue-green algae for treating precancerous growths inside the mouth, boosting the immune system, improving memory, increasing energy and metabolism, lowering cholesterol, preventing heart disease, healing wounds, and improving digestion and bowel health.

You may have been told that blue-green algae are an excellent source of protein. But, in reality, blue-green algae is no better than meat or milk as a protein source and costs about 30 times as much per gram.

There is limited research to prove whether its super properties are actually correct. Here is what MedLine Plus says about early research into its effects;

Early signs show it could be effective for;

  • Allergies
  • ADHD
  • Exercise performance
  • Menopausal symptoms

There is no evidence so far that it is effective for:

  • Fatigue
  • weight loss
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of blue-green algae for these uses.

The neurological effects of spirulina need more human evidence. Based on animal evidence, spirulina appears to be a promising anti-oxidant and supplement for metabolic issues.

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