Did you know that Chinese and Cuban Olympic teams are known to eat spirulina daily during training! This is because exercises promote increases in harmful reactive oxygen species inside the body. These reactive compounds damage body tissues and organs. And this results in early fatigue which is highly undesirable in sports. So, these teams eat spirulina daily, so that they make use of its benefits. Spirulina is known to have many nutritional, immunosuppressive and antioxidant properties. And these may be responsible for reducing and ameliorating fatigue in athletes! In this article, I want to explain spirulina nutrition facts and health benefits.
The popularity of spirulina is increasing daily. This is because the future food is nutrient-dense and easy to produce. In addition, it is rich in nutraceuticals that are beneficial to health.
But first; What is spirulina?
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What is spirulina?
Spirulina is the dried biomass of Arthrospira platensis, which is a filamentous cyanobacterium.
It is a microscopic organism found in water bodies. It is also called blue-green algae. Spirulina became famous after being successfully used as a food supplement for astronauts by NASA. But before that, spirulina was used as a food by Aztecs.
Currently, many health food stores sell spirulina as a health supplement. And due to its easier cultivation on limited space, it is a good future food prospect.
Also read: 11 Future food that may feed the world
Spirulina nutrition facts
Spirulina is used as a nutritional supplement because it is rich in nutrients. Studies show that spirulina is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins minerals and other phytochemicals.
- Spirulina is a protein-rich food. It has a high protein content of about 55-70% of its mass.
- This makes it a rich source of essential amino acids.
- It is also a vitamin-rich food. It contains vitamin B12 and provitamin A. And also tocopherol vitamins which are powerful antioxidants.
- Spirulina is also a good mineral supplement because it is rich in minerals. It contains minerals which include iron.
- All this makes spirulina a good micronutrient and phytochemical supplement.
- Spirulina is also a good source of gamma-linolenic acid an unsaturated fatty acid. This fatty acid is an essential fat.
- In addition, spirulina is rich in beneficial antioxidant compounds. These include phenolic acids, phycocyanin, chlorophyll and carotenoids.
- The blue-green algae are also rich in fat-soluble antioxidants which include vitamin E and carotenoids.
- Another important factor is that this health supplement is regarded as safe. This because toxicological studies show that it is safe to eat.
- Unlike plant foods and other future foods, spirulina has no cellulose. As a result, it’s easier to digest. And nutrients are released quickly from the food matrix.
- Spirulina contains glycogen and rhamnose that can be easily converted to energy. Energy supplement?
- It has about 20% energy in carbohydrates and 7% lipids in weight.
- Contains calcium spirulan and antiviral compounds.
Spirulina health benefits
Above I explained spirulina nutrition facts. In this section, I will explain spirulina health benefits. These health benefits explain the above stated spirulina nutrition facts.
1. Spirulina alleviates chronic fatigue by improving energy production
Research shows that spirulina can alleviate fatigue. Let’s say you always feel fatigued, then spirulina can be your remedy. How does spirulina do this? Well, it’s very easy!
- This future food has exceptional nutrient constituencies. These contribute to increasing the body’s energy levels.
- It contains the polysaccharides rhamnose and glycogen. These are easily digested and converted to energy.
- It also contains essential fatty acids that can be used to improve energy production.
- Spirulina consumption improves beneficial lactobacillus levels in the intestines.
- This enables the production of vitamin B6 which has a role in energy production.
2. It can also minimise the effects of allergies such as rhinitis.
Spirulina has anti-inflammatory properties. This means it can prevent and reduce the risks of inflammation and associated diseases.
Spirulina has compounds that inhibit the release of histamine by the body.
Histamine is the main compound that is responsible for inflammatory responses.
And its release results in allergies, inflammation and irritation.
High doses of spirulina offer protection against rhinitis.
3. It has immunomodulatory activities
This means that this supplement can recruit the immune system to fight infections. Consumption increase the activity of macrophage cells of the immune system.
It also enhances the immunity of mucosal surfaces. This includes the surfaces of nasal passages, respiratory and digestive pathways. It enhances immunity by modulating related antibodies. (Immunoglobulin A)
Spirulina modulates immunity by a nutritional supplement. This enables it to cover nutrient deficiencies in the body. It is these nutritional deficiencies that weaken the immune system.
4. This supplement has antiviral activities
It means it can protect you and strengthen your body from viral infections.
Spirulina contains calcium spirulan a compound that inhibits replication and multiplication of the enveloped virus. These viruses include herpes and HIV1 viruses.
This super future food also enhances virus-killing cells of the immune system.
One advantage of algal antiviral products is that they cause immunomodulation even after the infection has been established.
5. Consumption lowers cholesterol and lipids in the blood
Spirulina has blood cholesterol and blood lowering effects. This means it is a heart-healthy food product!
Eating this future food regularly has many health benefits and these include:
- Spirulina consumption reduces blood LDL cholesterol.
- It also protects essential body lipids by preventing lipid peroxidation.
- And it also restores the body’s lipid metabolic balance.
- Research shows that it reduces blood cholesterol, triglyceride and LDL cholesterol levels. It is hypolipidemic.
- It reduces heart disease and high blood pressure risks.
Also, spirulina was shown to reduce atherogenesis in the body. It does this by reducing atherogenic lipids in the body. This is because compounds in spirulina reduce oxidative tissue damage in the body. They scavenge for damaging free radicals. And these free radicals are responsible for atherogenic inflammation. So, removing them reduces inflammation.
6. Spirulina has anti-cancer properties
In one laboratory study it was discovered that spirulina has anti-cancer properties. Spirulina extracts inhibit the growth of human cancer cells. In this study, spirulina water extracts inhibited the growth of human colon and liver cancer cells
Also, in another study, spirulina was shown to inhibit the proliferation of human pancreatic cancer cells. And this was attributed to the presence of phytochemicals. These are phycocyanobilin and chlorophyllin.
In another study spirulina extracts also inhibited the growth of human skin cancer cells. And all this shows that spirulina has beneficial anti-cancer properties.
7. Protection from chronic arsenic poisoning.
A study shows that 280 mg of spirulina extracts and 2 mg of zinc daily for 16 weeks alleviated chronic arsenic poisoning. Can be a good supplement to minimize arsenic poisoning damage. Especially in those drinking contaminated water.
8. Strong antioxidant properties and protection from oxidative damage
This food blue-green alga offers protection from oxidative damage. It protects from the oxidative damage caused by carbon tetrachloride, heavy metals and insecticides.
Spirulina also contains phycocyanin which is a biliprotein. This protein has free radical scavenging properties. This gives spirulina its antioxidant properties. It also increases the total antioxidant capacity of your body. This greatly reduces your risks of tissue damage and oxidative stress. And it reduces your risks of getting oxidation related inflammatory and chronic diseases.
9. Improves gut health
Spirulina enhances your gut health by boosting the growth of probiotic lactic acid bacteria. These are the good bacteria that give a healthy gut.
Eating spirulina regularly favours the reestablishment of correct gut microorganisms. It helps in the development of a good balance of healthful and harmful gut bacteria. Eating spirulina also reduces intestinal inflammation. This improves your gut health.
10. Spirulina has nutraceutical properties
Because it contains compounds that offer more than nutritional benefits. This is one of the most important spirulina nutrition facts. Because these nutraceuticals can help improve your lipid profiles, immune system and antioxidant activities.
They are also the reason why spirulina has antidiabetic effects and offers protection against dyslipidemia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
These nutraceuticals are a therapeutic tool against metabolic disorders.
But, what is metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is used to describe multiple interconnected metabolic abnormalities. These include dyslipidemia, glucose intolerance, obesity, hypertension and prothrombosis.
11. Management of obesity
Regular consumption of spirulina is beneficial to obesity management.
This is because it helps manage obesity by preventing liver lipid accumulation. And it also by reduces oxidative stress and macrophage infiltration into visceral adipose tissue.
Spirulina has essential amino acids and one of them is phenylalanine. Phenylalanine triggers the release of cholecystokinin in the body. Cholecystokinin is a hunger suppressant and it prevents overeating. This reduces weight gain.
It also has compounds that inhibit insulin signalling. This decreases glucose absorption by adipose tissues and skeletal muscles. Which also prevents weight gain.
12. Antidiabetic properties
Spirulina has strong anti-diabetic properties. It has proteins and fibre that inhibit enzymes responsible for carbohydrates digestion. This lowers the amount of glucose that is absorbed in the gut. This means it lowers post-meal blood glucose and insulin levels. It also improves insulin sensitivity.
13. Antihypertensive properties
This means spirulina offers protection against elevated blood pressures. It contains anti-high blood pressure proteins. The phycocyanin antioxidant properties help decrease blood pressure values.
Possible spirulina side effects
- Allergic reactions
- Sweating and sleeping disorders
- May worsen existing autoimmune diseases
- Abdominal pain
Why is spirulina an interesting future food prospect?
Spirulina is an important food for the future because of its unique properties.
- It has a maximum biomass production and high carbon dioxide fixation rate. This gives it the ability to quickly scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
- Production of the blue-green algae does not require fertile land, unlike current food crops.
- Cyanobacteria also have a rapid growth rate.
- And at the same time, it requires less energy input and water for production. Its energy and water efficiency is way better than soya beans and corn.
- It is also highly nutritious and less costly to produce. As a result, it is an important future food.
All these benefits define spirulina nutrition facts listed in this article. Spirulina is a very good nutritional supplement. It can help you reduce the risks of nutritional deficiencies. And it can help in the maintenance of optimal health.