I know that “spirulina” sounds like a potion ingredient in Harry Potter. I also know that being fresh and saltwater cyanobacteria, which is a colony of single-cell microscopic organisms that collect into algae, isn’t much better. But the truth is that spirulina actually might be useful in a real-life potion, if the intended effect is to give your body and brain a natural boost in function.
Japanese nutritionists have known about this strain of algae for a long time. As with a lot of Eastern whole foods, we’ve been slow on the uptake. But since spirulina has started getting attention from Western health practices, we’ve seen all kinds of benefits ranging from anti-inflammatory to anti-cancer properties. Here are 7 health benefits you need to know:
1. Dietary Nutrients
Busy workweeks and long hours mean that I don’t always have the luxury of nutrient-rich dinners. Sometimes, saving time takes priority. That means that if you’re anything like me, a natural multi-vitamin source could be a lifesaver (or maybe a “life extender”).
Spirulina is packed with protein, Vitamin B, Iron, and Copper and contains almost no calories. This means that you can use this superfood to get a heavy dose of nutrients without worrying about the side effects.
2. Anti-Inflammatory Effects
Spirulina is full of antioxidants, which is a way of saying that it can stop cell and DNA damage that causes inflammation and eventually leads to cancer. Oxidative damage ages your cells, increases free radicals, and can lead to all kinds of problems.
The main antioxidant in Spirulina is called phycocyanin, but you don’t need to know that. All you need to know is that the inflammation at the root of tons of chronic illnesses can be slowed with antioxidant-rich foods like spirulina.
3. Lower Cholesterol
“Bad” cholesterol, as your doctor will call it, is called LDL. LDL buildup eventually leads to heart disease, which is the number one killer of both genders in the United States. Just a gram of spirulina per day has been shown to reduce levels of LDL in the body by 10% over time.
4. Lower Blood Pressure
Your blood pressure can occasionally go up during the busy week – I’d be shocked if it didn’t at some point! But chronically high blood pressure is a killer that causes heart attacks, strokes, and chronic kidney disease.
Taking spirulina regularly can drastically improve blood pressure, which can indirectly prevent debilitating health conditions.
5. Anemia Prevention
Anemia is a condition characterized by blood cells that don’t have enough hemoglobin. Its effects include chronic fatigue and weakness, which can derail a busy workweek and make your life impossible. Spirulina’s ability to increase hemoglobin content means that anemia sufferers, especially older ones, can boost their immune system and reduce fatigue by taking it regularly.
6. Strength and Endurance
The same antioxidant effect that helps spirulina lower inflammation works even when the inflammation is exercise related. Feeling sore and fatigued after working out is natural, but spirulina can increase muscle strength and endurance to improve your workouts as well as shorten your recovery time.
7. Blood Sugar Control
Spirulina can reduce blood sugar levels by controlling inflammation, blood pressure, and improving overall functioning. Those who are suffering from high blood sugar need dietary restrictions that go beyond spirulina. But since every little bit helps, this superfood should be part of your regimen.
Spirulina that you buy in a store comes in a powdered form and capsules, but it originally comes from a strain of algae that has “bacteria” in the first sentence of its description. It’s not exactly a luxury food ingredient. But the effects it has on overall health and function can be luxurious.
By reducing inflammation, spirulina can help lower blood pressure, blood sugar, and support a healthy heart by reducing bad cholesterol. It’s packed with nutrients and popular with athletes to control workout-related soreness.
Since your busy week is probably a workout anyway, consider adding spirulina to your pantry to get daily vitamins in a hurry and regulate your body’s systems naturally.