9 Benefits of Spirulina for Your Health

Spirulina grows in salt or fresh water in various parts of the world. Let's take a look at the benefits of spirulina.
9 Benefits of Spirulina for Your Health

Last update: 21 May, 2023

Spirulina is a blue-green microalgae, which is why it’s also classified as a cyanobacterium. Its high nutritional level, which includes a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, has popularized its consumption throughout the world. Therefore, on the market, you can find it in presentations such as tablets, powder, and tea bags. It’s used as a complement to treatments to prevent diseases, but what evidence is there for it? Let’s find out more about the benefits of spirulina.

What is spirulina?

This cyanobacterium has existed on the planet for more than 3.5 billion years. The first reviews of its use are recorded in the chronicles of the Spanish conquistadors, in which the ways the Aztecs used them were chronicled.

This civilization collected them in fine nets in Lake Tenochtitlán, dried them in the sun, and sold them. One of the biggest characteristics observed is that spirulina grows quickly and in extreme conditions.

This survival capacity leads it to better absorb the nutrients that surround it. The varieties with the greatest recognition and commercialization are Spirulina maxima and platensis.

The 9 benefits of spirulina for health

The benefits of spirulina are such that NASA has considered it to be one of the crops that could be taken into space. Next, we’re going to delve into the 9 most outstanding benefits, those that have been supported by scientific evidence.

1. Strengthens the immune system

Various studies have shown that spirulina has antiviral properties that help strengthen the immune system. This discovery is of great importance.

It has even been shown that it could be an inhibitor of viruses, such as herpes simplex types 1 and 2, human cytomegalovirus, measles, and some types of influenza. This benefit comes from calcium spirulan, a sulfated polysaccharide isolated from spirulina.

Spirulina in various presentations.
Spirulina is available in various presentations and its use is becoming more and more widespread.

2. Reduces the effects of oxidative stress

Spirulina contains a series of antioxidants that turn out to be very beneficial for health. The main antioxidant substance of this cyanobacterium is phycocyanin, which gives it its characteristic color. Research has determined that this component helps fight free radicals.

The latter are molecules that, by accumulating in cells, end up damaging other molecules such as DNA, lipids, and proteins. This process is known as oxidative stress.

This effect also applies to patients whose body is going through a process of oxidative stress due to communicable diseases. One study found that spirulina platensis extract was able to inhibit virus replication in human T cells.

3. Prevents aging

Another factor associated with oxidative stress is aging. Because spirulina is a rich source of antioxidants, its consumption can delay the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks.

These effects are attributed to its high content of vitamins such as E, minerals, and antioxidant agents such as phycocyanin and carotenes, components that make this supplement an ally against free radicals.

4. Controls blood sugar levels

Animal and human studies have been conducted to determine the impact of spirulina consumption on blood sugar levels. It was found that this microalgae can be useful as an adjuvant in diabetic patients to keep blood glucose levels under control.

Other investigations have determined that it’s phycocyanin, the blue pigment of spirulina, which contributes to lowering fasting blood glucose.

5. Lowers blood pressure

A dose of 4.5 grams of spirulina has been shown to help reduce blood pressure in people with normal blood pressure levels. This action could be due to the fact that it induces a greater production of nitric oxide, which relaxes and dilates the blood vessels.

Elevated blood pressure is one of the main risk factors for serious cardiovascular events, such as acute myocardial infarction.

6. Lowers cholesterol levels

Another of the health benefits of spirulina is the reduction of LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol. It also lowers triglycerides and increases good cholesterol (HDL). A study carried out on patients revealed it.

Other investigations have shown that lowering blood cholesterol is associated with the action of linoleic acid, an essential unsaturated fatty acid that’s not usually easily found in food.

7. Improves the symptoms of allergies

Allergies such as rhinitis affect a good portion of the world population. Its symptoms are runny nose, congestion, burning eyes, and continuous sneezing.

It has been identified that the antiviral properties of spirulina prevent these annoying symptoms from occurring, due to cross-action with external allergens.

8. Contributes to weight loss

This supplement is very popular among those looking to achieve a healthy weight. Studies have found that it contributes to weight loss by decreasing the percentage of body fat. This is thanks to the action of the essential amino acids it contains, such as L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine.

The aforementioned research established that the women who underwent the test to verify the slimming action of spirulina had no variation because the weight of fat-free tissue increased.

9. Complements vegetarian and vegan diets

A 7-gram tablespoon of spirulina contains 4 grams of protein, 20 calories, and 1.7 grams of digestible carbohydrates. This same portion is capable of providing the body with omega 6 and 3 fatty acids and all the essential amino acids.

That’s why it’s considered one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. For this reason, spirulina can be a good complement to vegetarian and vegan diets.

Vegan diet foods.
Spirulina could be a suitable complement to vegan diets due to its nutritional contribution.

Other benefits of spirulina

We’ve talked about the 9 most important benefits of spirulina, but they’re not the only ones. There’s evidence that its nutritional components provide vitality and energy to the body. This is associated with the concentration of proteins that this microalga has.

It has also been identified that it increases the hemoglobin levels of red blood cells, thus helping to prevent anemia, especially in older adults.

It’s also common for this supplement to be part of the diet followed by athletes, as spirulina has reported positive effects by counteracting the oxidative damage caused by exercise. In the long run, this could increase endurance and muscle strength.

Recommendations on the consumption of spirulina

Spirulina is safe, however, possible adverse effects of its consumption have also been detailed. Among them, we find that some have reported vomiting, indigestion, and headache. Hence the importance of ingesting a quality supplement that comes from algae grown in a controlled manner.

At the same time, it’s important to consult with a health professional about the consumption of spirulina. This counts to a greater extent for patients diagnosed with hypo or hyperthyroidism and for pregnant women and children.

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