10 Health Benefits Of Spirulina
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that people can take as a dietary supplement. People consider spirulina a superfood due to its excellent nutritional content and health benefits.
Spirulina has a high protein and vitamin content, which makes it an excellent dietary supplement for people on vegetarian or vegan diets.
Research suggestsTrusted Source that spirulina has antioxidant and inflammation-fighting properties, as well as the ability to help regulate the immune system.
This article discusses 10 potential health benefits people may get from adding spirulina to their diet.
1. Spirulina Is Extremely High in Many Nutrients
Spirulina is an organism that grows in both fresh and salt water. It is a type of cyanobacteria, which is a family of single-celled microbes
that are often referred to as blue-green algae. Just like plants, cyanobacteria can produce energy from sunlight via a process called photosynthesis.
Spirulina was consumed by the ancient Aztecs but became popular again when NASA proposed that it could be grown in space for use by astronauts. A standard daily dose of spirulina is 1–3 grams, but doses of up to 10 grams per day have been used effectively.
Consuming spirulina is one way to supplement protein and vitamins in people’s diets without notable side effects. One tablespoon or 7 grams (g) of dried spirulina containsTrusted Source:
2. Powerful Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Oxidative damage can harm your DNA and cells. This damage can drive chronic inflammation, which contributes to cancer and other diseases.
Spirulina is a fantastic source of antioxidants, which can protect against oxidative damage. Its main active component is called phycocyanin.
This antioxidant substance also gives spirulina its unique blue-green color. Phycocyanin can fight free radicals and inhibit production of inflammatory signaling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
“ Phycocyanin is the main active compound in spirulina. It has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.”
3. Can Lower “Bad” LDL and Triglyceride Levels
Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. Many risk factors are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. As it turns out, spirulina
positively impacts many of these factors. For example, it can lower total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, while raising “good”
HDL cholesterol. In a study in 25 people with type 2 diabetes, 2 grams of spirulina per day significantly improved these markers.
Another study in people with high cholesterol determined that 1 gram of spirulina per day lowered triglycerides by 16.3% and “bad” LDL by 10.1% (10Trusted Source). Several other studies have found favorable effects — though with higher doses of 4.5–8 grams per day.
“ Studies indicate that spirulina can lower triglycerides and “bad” LDL cholesterol and may simultaneously raise “good” HDL cholesterol.”
4. Protects “Bad” LDL Cholesterol From Oxidation
Fatty structures in your body are susceptible to oxidative damage. This is known as lipid peroxidation, a key driver of many serious diseases
(13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).For example, one of the key steps in the development of heart disease is the oxidation of “bad” LDL
cholesterol (15Trusted Source).
Interestingly, the antioxidants in spirulina appear to be particularly effective at reducing lipid peroxidation in both humans and animals (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).In a study in 37 people with type 2 diabetes, 8 grams of spirulina per day significantly reduced markers of oxidative damage. It also increased levels of antioxidant enzymes in the blood.
“ Fatty structures in your body can become oxidized, driving the progression of many diseases. The antioxidants in spirulina can help prevent this.”
5. May Have Anti-Cancer Properties
Some evidence suggests that spirulina has anti-cancer properties. Research in animals indicates that it can reduce cancer occurrence and tumor size.
Spirulina’s effects on oral cancer — or cancer of the mouth — have been particularly well studied.
One study examined 87 people from India with precancerous lesions — called oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) — in the mouth.
Among those who took 1 gram of spirulina per day for one year, 45% saw their lesions disappear — compared to only 7% in the control group (21Trusted Source). When these people stopped taking spirulina, almost half of them redeveloped lesions in the following year. In another study of 40 individuals with OSMF lesions, 1 gram of spirulina per day led to greater improvement in OSMF symptoms than the drug Pentoxyfilline.
“ Spirulina may have anti-cancer properties and appears especially effective against a type of precancerous lesion of the mouth called OSMF.”
6. May Reduce Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a main driver of many serious diseases, including heart attacks, strokes and chronic kidney disease.
While 1 gram of spirulina is ineffective, a dose of 4.5 grams per day has been shown to reduce blood pressure in individuals with normal levels
(10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
This reduction is thought to be driven by an increased production of nitric oxide, a signaling molecule that helps your blood vessels relax and dilate.
“ A higher dose of spirulina may lead to lower blood pressure levels, a major risk factor for many diseases.”
7. Improves Symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is characterized by inflammation in your nasal passageways. It is triggered by environmental allergens, such as pollen,
animal hair or even wheat dust. Spirulina is a popular alternative treatment for symptoms of allergic rhinitis, and there is evidence
that it can be effective (24Trusted Source).
In one study in 127 people with allergic rhinitis, 2 grams per day dramatically reduced symptoms like nasal discharge, sneezing, nasal congestion and itching
“ Spirulina supplements are very effective against allergic rhinitis, reducing various symptoms.”
8. Boosting Metabolism
Taking spirulina may help boost a person’s metabolism. A higher metabolic rate may make a person feel as if they have more energy.
It may also increase the number of calories they burn each day, which may aid weight loss.
In a small-scale 2014 studyTrusted Source, people who took 6 g of spirulina a day experienced beneficial metabolic effects, alongside weight loss and better health-related quality of life. The people in this study had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and so more research is needed to see if spirulina may boost metabolism in others without this condition.
9. Managing Diabetes
Spirulina shows promise as a way to manage the symptoms of diabetes. But more research is needed before doctors can recommend it. A 2018
review studyTrusted Source found that spirulina supplementation significantly lowered people’s fasting blood glucose levels.
High fasting blood sugar is a common problem in people with diabetes type 1 and 2. This suggests that spirulina supplements may help
people control diabetes.
These results suggest that spirulina shows promise as a food to support type 2 diabetes management. A 2017 animal studyTrusted Source supports the idea that spirulina may help manage diabetes. In this study, the researchers gave mice with type 1 diabetes spirulina extract orally. As a result, the mice showed:
The Bottom Line
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria — often referred to as blue-green algae — that is incredibly healthy. It may improve your levels of blood
lipids, suppress oxidation, reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar.
While more research is needed before any strong claims can be made, spirulina may be one of the few superfoods worthy of the title. If you want to give this supplement a try, it’s widely available in stores and online.
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