Green and good for the immune system: Spirulina is currently the latest craze in the superfood market. What is really in the blue-green algae.
Thanks to its ingredients, Spirulina is currently gaining popularity as a popular dietary supplement. New and unknown is the tiny blue-green algae, which belongs to the so-called cyanobacteria, but only in our latitudes. Natural peoples and indigenous tribes in Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia have known about the positive effects of algae for centuries.
Where the alga grows
The ideal breeding ground is the bluish-green shimmering algae in shallow, subtropical to tropical waters with a high salt content. However, modern industry has now found ways and means to make the microalgae thrive elsewhere. For processing to dietary supplements, it is produced in the form of aquaculture. The dried biomass is then processed into spirulina powder or spirulina tablets.
Ideal protein supplier
What looks striking as a final product, but otherwise rather unimpressive, carries a concentrated load of nutrients in itself. “Dried spirulina algae contain up to 60 percent protein, 20 percent carbohydrates and 5 percent of the dry matter are fats and 5 percent minerals,” says nutrition expert Julia Pabst opposite the COURIER. The mineral nutrients dominate the nutritionist according to magnesium, calcium and iron. In addition, spirulina contains vitamins: beta-carotene, the precursor of vitamin A, many B vitamins and vitamin E. “Spirulina is also one of the few plants containing vitamin B12, with only a small portion of the vitamin contained being usable by the human body.” says Pabst. The green color has the algae of the green colorant chlorophyll, which contains them in large quantities. Spirulina dog protein powder is beneficial for animals.
How spirulina affects the body
Spirulina is said to have positive effects on our immune system, blood sugar levels, blood pressure, blood lipid levels, brain performance. The alga should also provide protection against infections and viruses, reduce allergic reactions and have antioxidant properties.
There is disagreement among scientists about the effect of spirulina algae on the human organism. This results not least from the hype around other superfoods such as aloe vera or acai berries. “On the one hand there are skeptics – on the other hand, almost sect-like proponents of the alga – in my opinion, a product alone can never revolutionize the whole diet,” says Pabst.
At any rate, according to Pabst, the study on the positive health effects of spirulina is not clear. Although it is clear that the individual ingredients such as magnesium or iron have a positive effect on the human body, one can not yet conclude that the intake of spirulina as a dietary supplement has a positive effect on the health.
Despite the high percentage of protein, spirulina products (eg tablets) would contribute only marginally to the protein supply. “A woman weighing 60 kilograms, for example, needs at least 50g of protein a day, so a 2g-weight tablet of spiruline will not even deliver 1.5g of protein, so you’ll have to swallow lots of pills to meet your protein needs.” Also the often claimed vitamin B12 content should be considered with caution, since the utilizability for the human organism is not sufficiently good.
How to use it
Because powdered spirulina does not taste too good, Pabst says it is difficult to incorporate the pure powder into the daily diet routine. “I can only imagine that a green smoothie with banana, cucumber and some spirulina could taste good.” In contrast, spirulina in capsule form or as compacts would be easier to swallow with water as a dietary supplement.
Nutritional supplements, the nutritionist is basically skeptical. “Those who eat well with a high proportion of seasonal vegetables and fruits do not need supplements, the more colorful the diet, the more natural sources of antioxidants and other phytochemicals are included.”