Spirulina was consumed by the ancient Aztecs but became popular again when NASA proposed that it could be grown in space for use by astronauts.
Spirulina is probably the single most nutritious food known to man.
Compared to some of the most nutritious plant-based foods, gram per gram, spirulina has:
A single tablespoon spirulina contains:
In addition, the same amount holds only 20 calories and 1.7 grams (<24%) of digestible carbs.
Both scientific research and the experience of thousands of consumers indicate that Spirulina is an immune regulating food. Small amounts can help balance and stabilize the immune system, freeing up more of our metabolic energy for vitality, healing and assimilation of nutrients. It enhances the body’s cellular communication process and also has the ability to read and repair DNA, like a kind of cellular tune up. This is why individuals taking Spirulina often report they have more energy levels.
Spirulina is packed with crucial nutrients, but one of its most notable qualities is found in its protein content. By weight, Spirulina is about 60% protein, making it an excellent source of the all-important nutrient that the body needs to function properly.
Furthermore, the protein contained in Spirulina is a perfect protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids, which is rather uncommon in plant-derived proteins, because most are lacking some of the essentials.
Its status as a plant-based source of complete protein makes it an ideal dietary supplement choice for vegetarians, but it’s also an excellent option for those who are interested in upping their protein intake without taking on excessive calories in the process.
Among food, Spirulina has a relative high provitamin A concentration. An excessive dose of beta-carotene may be toxic, but the beta-carotene ingested from the Spirulina is usually harmless since the human body converts only the amount of vitamin A it needs.
Spirulina contains 4-7% lipids. Spirulina has essential fatty acids: linoleic acid (LA) and g-linolenic acid (GLA). The latter is claimed to have medicinal properties and is required for arachidonic acid and prostaglandin synthesis. GLA lowers low-density lipoprotein, being 170-fold more effective than LA.
Iron in some nutritional complements is not appropriately absorbed. Iron in Spirulina is 60% better absorbed than ferrous sulfate and other complements. Consequently, it could represent an adequate source of iron in anemic pregnant women.
Spirulina platensis contains about 13.6% carbohydrates; some of these are glucose, rhamnose, mannose, xylose and galactose. Spirulina does not have cellulose in its cell wall, a feature that makes it an appropriate and important foodstuff for people with problems of poor intestinal absorption, and geriatric patients. A new high molecular weight polysaccharide, with immunostimulatory activity has been isolated from Spirulina and is called “Immulina”. This highly water-soluble polysaccharide represents between 0.5% and 2.0% (w/w) of the dry microalgae.
One of the main concerns about the consumption of microorganisms is their high content of nucleic acids that may cause disease such as gout. Spirulina contains 2.2%-3.5% of RNA and 0.6 %-1% of DNA, which represents less than 5% of these acids, based on dry weight. These values are smaller than those of other microalgae like Chlorella and Scenedesmus.