By Michelle Fouchi Esneault

Spirulina is one of the most ancient lifeforms on Earth and considered one of the greatest nutrient-rich foods.  According to the United States Department of Agriculture, dried spirulina is high in protein and has nine essential and 10 non-essential amino acids.  It’s also high in beta-carotene, linoleic acid, arachidonic acid, vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), iron, calcium, phosphorus, omega-3s, chlorophyll and phycocyanin which is only found in blue-green algae.

Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health found that spirulina is good for your body and your brain.  Consuming between one and 10 grams boosts energy, improves your immune system and supports your heart, liver and kidneys.  Studies have also found that it is a natural detoxifier and appetite suppressant, improves digestion, fights allergies, lowers cholesterol and triglyceride levels, raises HDL cholesterol and can even help balance the body’s pH, while reducing inflammation. 

Other studies also suggest that it may reduce blood pressure and balance blood sugar.  And if that wasn’t enough, research from the International Journal of Biological Science suggests that it may even have anti-cancer properties.

So, with all of these benefits, why isn’t it in everything?  Spirulina may be the perfect food, but the taste, which is bitter, takes a little getting used to.  It can be mild or strong, depending on whether it comes from a saltwater source, which tends to be fishier, or from freshwater.  It also turns anything you put it in to a lovely shade of blue-green.

You can find spirulina anywhere supplements are sold in either tablet form or in a powder which is easier to add to food.  The Aztecs dried it into cakes in 16th century Mexico.  Today you can add it to juices, smoothies and shakes or sprinkle over popcorn, rice, or veggies.  Add it to your favorite dessert recipes or to energy balls. 

It is not recommended that you cook with it as exposing it to high temperatures removes its health benefits. It’s considered safe and effective with no known side effects.  You shouldn’t take it if you’re allergic to iodine or if you’re pregnant or on blood thinners.  As with any supplement, check with your doctor before taking.

Spirulina is a natural detoxifier and appetite suppressant

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