Spirulina is a micro algae that has been consumed for centuries due to its high nutritional value and health benefits. It often gets misclassified as an herb because of its amazing health promoting properties, but it’s actually a bacteria, found in freshwater lakes, ponds, and rivers.
Spirulina is largely made up of protein and essential amino acids, and is typically recommended for vegetarians and vegans for its high natural iron content.
History of this super powered algae
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria, or blue-green microalgae, that appeared on Earth 3.5 billion years ago.
These single-celled organisms, capable of photosynthesis, lie at the root of the development of all terrestrial plants, and also led to the emergence of aerobic living beings (i.e., those that need oxygen to live) – because it was their existence, and in particular their use of photosynthesis, that made it possible to transform an unbreathable atmosphere into a viable environment for oxygen-breathing organisms.
It is estimated that 90% of the oxygen currently on Earth (approximately 330 billion tons) comes from algae.
Spirulina consumption dates back at least to the reign of the Aztec emperor Montezuma(1467-1520). The emperor was very fond of fish – and would send couriers to relay the 300km from his capital to the Gulf of Mexico just to be able to enjoy them fresh.
These runners managed to cover long distances thanks to their natural EPO – dried spirulina! After being harvested as a sort of blue-green slime using very finely meshed nets, the spirulina was then dried in the form of patties and eaten together with cereal grains, seasoned with chilmolli: a sauce of tomato, pepper, and spices.
Tecuitlat was another popular Aztec made from spirulina.
Seasonality and availability
Spirulina is being developed as the “food of the future” because of its remarkable ability to synthesize high-quality concentrated food more efficiently. It contains 70% complete protein, with all essential amino acids in perfect balance.
It's commercially cultivated all around the world.
Japan, India, China, USA and Australia are some of the biggest producers of this super powered algae.
Green and blue varieties are commercially available.
Dietary spirulina is arguably the most nutrient-dense food on the planet. Just one ounce delivers the following:
- Calories: 81
- Protein: 39 grams
- Dietary fiber: 1 gram
- Sugars: 0.9 gram
- Total fat: 3 percent DV
- Saturated fat: 4 percent DV
- Omega-3 fatty acids: 230 milligrams
- Omega-6 fatty acids: 351 milligrams
- Copper: 85 percent DV
- Iron: 44 percent DV
- Manganese: 27 percent DV
- Magnesium: 14 percent DV
- Sodium: 12 percent DV
- Potassium: 11 percent DV
- Zinc: 4 percent DV
- Phosphorus: 3 percent DV
- Calcium: 3 percent DV
- Selenium: 3 percent DV
- Riboflavin: 60 percent DV
- Thiamin: 44 percent DV
- Niacin: 18 percent DV
- Pantothenic acid: 10 percent DV
- Vitamin K: 9 percent DV
- Vitamin E: 7 percent DV
- Folate: 7 percent DV
- Vitamin B6: 5 percent DV
- Vitamin C: 5 percent DV
- Vitamin A: 3 percent DV
To date, there are over 1,800 peer-reviewed scientific articles evaluating its health benefits.
Some of the potential health benefits of consuming spirulina regulary:
- Boosts energy
- Reduces cholesterol
- Lowers blood pressure
- Detoxes heavy metals
- Eliminates candida
- May be effective against anemia
- Improves symptoms of allergic rhinitis
- Balance blood sugar levels
- Improve muscle strength and endurance
How to incorporate spirulina into recipes
Spirulina powder can be easily sprinkled onto cereals and blended into smoothies and juices. Add it to cakes, cookies or bread recipes.
The vibrant green or blue powders provide the most beautifully coloured foods.
Please note, the flavour is intense so use sparingly, it may take a few times to build up your tastebuds to this new ingredient.
To reap the true nutritional benefits of spirulina, it is recommended to take a supplementation course of spirulina. If you are in Thailand you can order direct from Spiru4
My favourite recipes
- Try my super powered spirulina energy balls
- Spirulina is a spiral-shaped microalga. The only food proposed by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to be the Astronauts’ food for long term space missions.
- Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on Earth. In fact, this blue-green microalga is partly responsible for producing the oxygen in the planet’s atmosphere that, billions of years ago, allowed the planet’s original life forms to develop.
- 3 grams (1 tablespoon) of Spirulina has more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity than five servings of vegetables.