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Have you ever wondered why some smoothies are green? Chances are they include an ingredient called spirulina, which is a blue-green algae believed to be one of the oldest life forms on Earth.
It was once used by the Aztecs as an endurance booster, according to WebMd. Considered to be a superfood, spirulina’s apparent benefits come from it being jam-packed with nutrients, including antioxidants that could benefit your health and protein levels equivalent to eggs.
It also has surprisingly more iron than spinach and more beta-carotene than carrots. This little green machine is a rich source of non-animal protein and loaded with B-vitamins, like thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), as well as copper, iron and magnesium. It’s been linked to health benefits such as allergy relief, immune system support and eye, oral and heart health, although experts all seem to agree more research is needed.
Since spirulina is available in a variety of forms, including capsules and powders, you can consume it in a variety of ways. Sprinkle it on oatmeal, blend it into smoothies or bake it into bars. Chances are, though, that you won’t want to eat it raw, straight out of the package. Its bitter taste is easier to consume when mixed into yogurt, juices and smoothies. When used in these instances, it’s hard to detect any taste at all.
Luckily, you don’t need much to experience the benefits of spirulina. A little goes a long way, a standard dose is only 1-3 grams.
Who Shouldn’t Take Spirulina, And Why
This superfood can be contaminated with toxic substances called microcystins; it can absorb heavy metals from the water where it’s grown. So be sure to pick up a canister from a trusted brand at your local health food store or online.
While spirulina appears safe, even at high doses, it’s not for everyone. People with the rare condition of phenylketonuria (PKU), who cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, should avoid spirulina. Those with autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis, should also steer clear; there’s concern it could stimulate the immune system, making conditions worse.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to check with your doctor. The same goes for those with shellfish allergies, where more research is needed. Although rare, it is possible to be allergic to spirulina. Just as you would before starting any new supplement, it’s good to check with your doctor to get the “all clear” before you begin.
If you’re curious about trying spirulina for yourself, here are a few options available on Amazon.
BL Labs provides 100% raw organic spirulina with more than 70% protein per serving, which is 4 grams. Over 8,200 people have weighed in on this highly-rated product, averaging it at a 4.5 out of 5-star rating.
Gerik G. says he already has noticed a difference after using spirulina for a short period of time of missing 1.5 teaspoons into his morning smoothie.
“I haven’t been using it long (perhaps a week or two), but I can already tell a significant difference,” he wrote. “I’m more alert (no need for a caffeine jolt to get through the day) and I love the added iron, vitamin A, and protein it gives me. My mood’s improved (I’m less cranky) and I’ve noticed a difference in the quality and strength of my muscles during my morning workouts.”
Cessa, who referred to this powder as a “10/10” and uses it in smoothie bowls, said she gives it to her 4-year-old, who also loves it.
Reviewers did mention it has a fishy smell in the bag, but that it disappears once it’s mixed with food and doesn’t taste fishy at all. A 7.93-ounce package, which provides 32 servings of 1.5 teaspoons, goes for $10.79 on Amazon.
This double-strength (1,000 mg) certified organic, non-GMO tablets from Now are naturally vegan and sugar- and soy-free. A bottle of 120 will last you 40 days, since the serving size is three tablets daily. This product has an average rating of 4.6 out of 5 stars from more than 5,000 reviews. People found these tablets to be a good value for the money and easy to swallow. Some individuals mentioned enjoying taking the tablets rather than using spirulina in a powdered form. It’s on sale for $13.85.
Get pure organic spirulina treated by heat by Micro Organics. It’s currently marked down 55%, making a 1-pound package with approximately 151 servings only cost $21.95. The company claims when it’s taken in a powder form, it offers quicker absorption and is easier on the stomach.
Several people claimed it helped boost their energy levels.
“Product is exactly what I expected and looks to be better quality than other products I’ve bought in the past,” one reviewer wrote. “I’ve always had great results when using spirulina in my shakes. Just for my energy level alone. Helped me get through 12-hour night shifts for 7 days a week during 4 months of seasonal work when traveling. Using it now in my before-work shakes and can still feel a positive impact with it. Also throwing in Maca Powder and Morninga Powder Which helps as well.”
While another reviewer, Diego T., echoed this excitement.
“Taking this first thing in the morning with 4 ounces (half cup) of water with a squeeze of half a lemon, I had used honey in the past for the taste but now drink it with just lemon,” he said. “My metabolism has improved significantly and the energy and brain power it provides has been a welcome addition to my daily routine- have my whole family taking it!”
Do the benefits of spirulina make you eager to try it? Do you see yourself trying this superfood that was once used by the Aztecs?