One of the planet's earliest living forms is thought to be the blue-green algal, spirulina.
The National Health Institute describes spirulina as a superfood that is an all-in-one source of nutrients with protein levels equivalent to eggs, first employed by the Aztecs as an endurance-booster.
Legend claims that the kingdom's couriers used the algae to fuel their marathon runs and that the Aztecs also used spirulina to heal illnesses. Several of the purported advantages of consuming spirulina are supported by current research, which also explores its potential for addressing health issues.
Because of its bitter flavour, spirulina is frequently blended with yoghurt, juice and smoothies.
Spirulina is frequently sold at health food stores as a supplement.
Here are six spirulina health advantages supported by research.
Potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
According to the paper “Oxidative stress, ageing, and disease”, by Dr Ilaria Liguori et al, oxidative damage can injure your cells and can cause chronic inflammation, which supports the development cancer and other disorders.
The above study and other similar studies demonstrate that spirulina is an excellent source of antioxidants that can help prevent oxidative damage. According to Healthline, the primary active ingredient in spirulina is phycocyanin, an antioxidant that also gives the food its distinctive blue-green colour.
In a 2019 study, “Potential Therapeutic Applications of C-Phycocyanin”, Dr Saira Bannu, a research scholar in biotechnology and bioinformatics, demonstrated that phycocyanin can combat free radicals and prevent the production of molecules that lead to inflammation, offering remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory results.
Excellent plant-based protein source
Spirulina, which contains 55 – 70% protein, has also been hailed as a fantastic source of plant-based protein. Spirulina may be a good complement to a vegan diet, according to the Cleveland Clinic, because of its iron and B12 concentration, which may naturally be low in these diets.
Maintains healthy blood sugar levels
Moreover, spirulina may support healthy blood sugar levels. Spirulina has been demonstrated to have a positive impact on the balance of blood sugar in animal experiments. Twenty-five people with Type 2 diabetes participated in a short trial by Liguori and her colleagues, who discovered that 2g of spirulina daily had a favourable impact on blood sugar levels. Although further study is required to validate these findings, the science is encouraging.
Lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels
The World Health Organization has shown that the biggest cause of mortality worldwide is heart disease. Heart disease risk is elevated by a number of factors.
It turns out that several of these factors are favourably impacted by spirulina. For instance, it can raise HDL (good) cholesterol while decreasing total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides.
A study by a team led by Dr Zahra Hamedifard found in one review that spirulina dramatically improved these indicators in persons with metabolic syndrome and associated diseases.
“The Hypolipidemic Effects of Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) Supplementation in a Cretan Population”, a study conducted in 2014 on persons with high cholesterol, found that 1g of spirulina per day reduced triglycerides by 16.3% and LDL cholesterol by 10.1%.
Could possess anti-cancer qualities
There is some evidence that spirulina has anti-cancer effects, but additional research is required. Animal studies have shown that it can lessen the likelihood of cancer and the size of tumours. The effects of spirulina on oral cancer have been extensively researched.
Moreover, spirulina supplementation has been proven to be helpful for the management of oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF), a form of precancerous lesion in the mouth, according to health publication “Medical News Today”.
One gramme of spirulina per day improved OSMF symptoms more than the blood flow-promoting drug pentoxifylline in a 2013 trial involving 40 people with OSMF lesions.
Might lower blood pressure
Heart attack, stroke, and chronic renal disease are just a few of the dangerous illnesses that high blood pressure is a major contributor to.
An analysis of five studies conducted by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information revealed that consuming 1 – 8g grams of spirulina daily might considerably lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, especially in those with high blood pressure levels. Nitric oxide, a signalling molecule that aids in blood vessel relaxation and dilation, is assumed to be what is responsible for this decrease.
Spirulina is a form of cyanobacteria that is frequently called blue-green algae and is very nutrient-dense. According to studies, it may lower fasting blood sugar levels, limit oxidation, lower blood pressure, and improve cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Spirulina may be one of the few superfoods deserving of the moniker, however, additional study is required before any firm conclusions can be drawn. This supplement is available in shops and online if you wish to test it, but do your homework first and consult a health professional.