In this article I want to talk about Spirulina, that really nourishing dark green super food that tastes awful. This article is in several parts and in the final part I will explain how to make a nice tasting smoothie using Spirulina, so you don’t get that bad taste in your mouth.
You probably think that Spirulina is a blue green algae. In fact I do put it in that category on my own website, but this is purely because that is where people search for it on the internet, so common is this misconception, but this is a factual article.
As you are probably aware algae are the most primitive form of plants and as such they have cell walls containing cellulose. All plants have cellulose walls, some have less cellulose and can be eaten raw, some have more and have to be cooked a little to break that down and make them digestible and some, like grass, have lots and humans cannot digest it. In fact animals that can digest grass have complex digestive systems with several stomachs to do so, but we don’t have this, and in common with many other animals if we eat grass we will vomit it right back up.
You may wonder what the point of all of this is, so I will explain, as it is an important point
A lot of algae cannot be used as a food source as it is poisonous, but some algae IS digestible, and some other species are specially treated so that they can be digested and the wide range of nutrients released into the human body. If the nutrition is available to humans they contain a huge amount of nutrients including antioxidants, chlorophyll, minerals, and a variety of trace elements.
What they don’t contain is a massive amount of protein, for that you should take Spirulina because Spirulina has the advantage over blue green algae, firstly because it is not a plant it is really easy to digest and secondly it is rich in some things that blue green algae is not.
I should be clear, I am a big fan of blue green algae, especially seaweeds, I take them as well as Spirulina, but it is important to understand the difference and you will see why I take both by the time you finish reading this article, because Spirulina is different, and the biggest difference is it is NOT a blue green algae,
So what is it? Well the precise classification of Spirulina is CYANOBACTERIA.
Now Cyan means “blue green” and cyanocbactereia are very interesting, they are one step down from plants in evolutionary terms, and they are a form of bacteria that reproduce by photosynthesis. In fact they are the descendants and very close relatives of the bacteria that evolved around 2.5 billion years ago to begin the oxygenation of planet earth which kicked off life on this planet as we know it. They are incredibly tough organisms, they can survive in almost any environment. In fact scientists have found cyanobacteria can survive in a vacuum as well as next to boiling volcanic springs.
One theory is that they first arrived from space on a meteorite, some survived, multiplied and then started life on Earth. This is an interesting theory, but difficult to prove but as they are bacteria, they don’t have a cell wall and are therefore easy to digest but they still have a lot of the nutritional advantages of blue green algae and seaweed with a few important differences.
Two of the big advantages of Spirulina.
Firstly, Spirulina contains 60-70% protein, it is a natural product so this varies with growing conditions. In fact, ounce for ounce Spirulina is highest source of vegetable protein in nature. To compare, blue green algae has approximately 30-35% protein depending on growing conditions.
The protein in Spirulina is a complete one, containing all the essential amino acids necessary for human health. The protein content is far more than and a lot more digestible than, for example, soya beans, which a lot of people also are allergic to.
Secondly Spirulina is also rich in natural beta carotene, one of the most potent and most important carotenoid (plant colouring) antioxidants, in fact it is the richest known natural source of this antioxidant.
Now, before you give up your dairy products and steak and switch to Spirulina you will notice I am careful to use the phrase “ounce for ounce” when I describe it’s protein content. Try throwing Spirulina in the air and you will see it will float. This means you would have to eat rather a lot to equal the weight and therefore get the same amount of protein of a 2.5 ib steak, it would also be very expensive. There is however, no doubt that consuming Spirulina provides you with a decent amount of protein and in a highly absorb able form. It also lacks a lot of the well known disadvantages of animal protein.
Beta carotene is found in lots of fruit and vegetables, but Spirulina is the richest source in nature.
Natural beta carotene is important as it absorbs a lot better into the system than the supplement version. IBeta carotene is the natural precursor to vitamin A, vitamin A actually has several forms and the body converts beta carotene into this vitamin as appropriate, this means you will get the right amounts of the right form of the vitamin if you take it this way. Beta carotene is one of the most powerful antioxidants., it removes free radicals from the body and slows the aging process, prevents skin wrinkles and improves general health. It boosts the immune system and is beneficial to both the male and female reproductive system and as mentioned before it provides the body with vitamin A.
OK, that’s it for now, that’s the end of part one of my articles about this miracle super food. Watch out for part two.