Some people think it’s a pasta, and still others believe it’s a type of seafood. What is spirulina, and why are people around the world raving about its benefits? In truth, it’s also known as blue-green algae and it’s one of the world’s most powerful and abundant superfoods.
What Is Spirulina and Where Does It Grow?
Scientists classify spirulina as a filamentous cyanobacteria, which simply means they are blue-hued, single-celled organisms that link together in long chains, ultimately resembling something like wool. This type of algae typically starts growing in shallow lakebeds or ponds, and it may also attach to things like rocks or firm plants. Although it can be found in many different parts of the world, spirulina prefers alkaline environments such as the lakes in Central and South America as well as in Africa.
Why Do People Use It?
Spirulina is widely regarded as a superfood because it contains an array of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are vital to good health but only a few calories and no fats, sugars, or simple carbohydrates. In fact, between 55% and 70% of spirulina’s makeup is pure, complete protein. Aside from that, it also contains all of the following:
- 18 amino acids, including eight of the nine essential amino acids;
- Gamma-linoleic acid, or GLA, which is a common medicinal additive that is especially helpful for skin conditions;
- Beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which is essential for growth and development, immune function, and vision;
- Arachidonic acid, a vital component in the brain, muscle, and liver tissues;
- Vitamin B12, which aids in the conversion of calories to energy and boosts metabolism;
- Minerals like iron, calcium, and phosphorus;
- Nucleic acids including RNA and DNA, which are vital for the health and survival of individual cells; and
- Phycocyanin, a protein complex that can only be found in blue-green algae, which is widely known as a “free radical scavenger” since it binds with free radicals and escorts them out of the body.
How Should You Consume It?
You can find spirulina in a variety of preparations. It is commonly found in a variety of smoothies and shakes that are marketed toward fitness enthusiasts, and you can also find it in capsule form in many drug and nutrition stores. However, science has shown that consuming spirulina in powder form is more beneficial as it makes it easier for your body to absorb and digest. This means that you can enjoy all of the benefits spirulina has to offer immediately. Many people who use spirulina regularly also note that taking it in powder form in a smoothie is also gentler on the stomach than consuming it in capsule form.
What is spirulina? Literally speaking, it’s blue-green algae that grows in alkaline waters around the world. To nutritionists, it’s one of the world’s most perfect dietary supplements since it provides complete proteins, a wide variety of minerals and vitamins, and even the basic building blocks that your body needs to create and regenerate cells. It’s no wonder that so many dietary supplements contain spirulina as an active ingredient.