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What is Spirulina and What Makes it a Superfood?

Spirulina smoothie with blackberries.

You might already be familiar with this interestingly named algae for its numerous health benefits or you might know it from the menu of your local acai bowl place. Whatever the case may be, this powerful plant has definitely earned its superfood label. Here’s why.

Spirulina lives in both, fresh and salt water, and it’s a blue-green algae that’s been used for thousands of years by ancient civilizations for its vast healing and nutritious properties, as well as the positive effects it brings to the human body.

The Nutritional Profile of Spirulina

Spirulina in a white bowl and a spoon on a white surface.

Spirulina is incredibly rich in nutrients and contains high amounts of B vitamins, copper, iron, potassium, magnesium, as well as protein. One serving is around seven grams and it contains a whopping four grams of protein and all 20 essential amino acids. It’s therefore considered one of the best plant-based protein sources. 

It also has a decent amount of digestible fiber as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, making it a true superfood, with every possible aspect of the word. Its true value lies in the incredible amount of antioxidants and other powerful plant compounds which really make it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

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Spirulina Supports Your Immune System

Spirulina powder and kelp seaweed on a white table.

Maybe the most important role spirulina plays in your system is helping your body fight free radicals and their oxidative damage as well as strengthening your immune system and preventing diseases. The main active component in spirulina is phycocyanin, an antioxidant that’s well known for its antioxidant and anti-cancer properties.

Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help your body fight the good fight, especially in situations where the nutrients you’re taking on a daily basis simply aren’t enough. By lowering inflammation and reducing the impact free radicals have on your system, antioxidants help prevent a variety of diseases and infections, from viruses and bacteria to autoimmune conditions.


Whisk your spirulina easier with this tool.

Spirulina Improves Heart Health

Spirulina in powder and pill form on a white table.

Another important health benefit of spirulina has to do with cardiovascular health and function. This blue-green algae is known to help lower your bad cholesterol levels as well as the harmful triglycerides that wreak havoc in your blood vessels and increase overall inflammation throughout your body. Some studies also show how in addition to lowering your bad LDL cholesterol, spirulina can have a positive impact on increasing the levels of good cholesterol or HDL.

This is beneficial to everyone who’s looking to improve their health, but most importantly, those who are already fighting a disease or condition that can only be dealt with if you manage to lower your overall inflammation markers.

Protein powder with spirulina.

Make your daily protein shake more potent.

Spirulina May Help Regulate Blood Sugar

Spirulina and two green smoothies on a beautiful wooden table.

Spikes in your blood sugar levels are one of the greatest detriments to your overall health and longevity, and it’s crucial to educate yourself about it, test which foods create these spikes and which don’t, and do your very best to keep your blood glucose in a healthy range.

We all know how sugary foods as well as most carbohydrates tend to increase your blood sugar levels and promote the release of insulin. This important hormone regulates your blood sugar levels and helps bring them down by stimulating the breakdown of glucose and encouraging its utilization. Unfortunately, when your blood glucose levels are chronically high, you become insulin resistant and your body simply can’t produce adequate amounts of this important hormone.

An extensive body of research supports the blood-glucose regulating claims for spirulina, and some studies even show how it might even outperform some of the most popular and effective diabetes drugs.

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Spirulina May Help Treat and Prevent Anemia

Spirulina powder on a white table.

Anemia is a condition caused by iron deficiency, and it can come with very serious side effects. Since spirulina contains decent amounts of iron, studies show how supplementing with spirulina may improve your immune function and increase the amount of red blood cells. This is great news for everyone who’s on a life-long iron supplement and is looking for something to offset its harsh effects on the body.

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How to Use Spirulina?

Spirulina smoothie bowl on a wooden table.

Even though spirulina has a pretty strong and earthy taste, it’s often listed as an ingredient in a variety of health-promoting products as well as superfood concoctions. You can easily mask its flavor with a combination of stronger ingredients such as citruses (think limes, lemons, grapefruit, oranges), fats (cacao, nuts, avocado), and fruit (berries, pineapple, mango).

It’s also often added to other powerful food such as chia puddings, green smoothies, fruit bowls, and even salad dressings that change their color to the symbolic shade of blue-green spirulina. It’s usually found in either powder or pill form, and you can add it to foods or simply take it as a supplement.

Most importantly, always choose spirulina from a trusted source and of the highest quality as chances are, many brands out there will add a bunch of fillers and artificial ingredients into their products in order to lower the price and fulfill the growing demand.

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Spirulina is a powerful superfood that should definitely make its way on your plate. If you’re interested to learn more about seaweed and its health benefits, check out why it also deserves the superfood label.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »
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