Superfood Spotlight: Spirulina

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Spirulina is a superfood that has been ignored for decades, but this “miracle” plant is packed with complete proteins and its nutritional benefits are impressive to say the least. It is a great food especially for vegetarians, vegans, anemics, diabetics and those who cannot get enough nutrients because of economic or situational circumstances. Of course, it is great for everyone else too.

This plant doesn’t come from the garden though, it is a form of blue-green algae that springs from warm, fresh water bodies which is turned into a powder and blends right into smoothies, soups, snacks, and other foods. 

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History

Spirulina has been used since the 16th century by the Aztecs and North Africans.

The Aztecs of Mexico discovered centuries ago that spirulina growing in Lake Texcoco could be eaten and could provide a good source of nutrition. Spanish explorers recorded that the Aztecs harvested the cyanobacteria from the lake and formed it into cakes to be sold. The first modern production of spirulina on a large scale was at Lake Texcoco in the 1970s.

Natives of Chad in Africa have also historically used spirulina as a food source, making it into cakes that could be used in broths.

In modern times, people have discovered the nutritional content of spirulina. You can find it as a supplement in tablet, powder, or flake form, but spirulina can also be eaten as a whole food. Commercial production of spirulina has increased since the 1970s and the top producers include the U.S., Thailand, China, India, Pakistan, Greece, and Chile.

Spirulina

Spirulina In India by PWRDF

Health Benefits of Spirulina

Spirulina contains a high amount of protein, vitamins, and minerals.

It contains a large amount of Vitamin B12, which is very difficult to find in other plant foods. Spirulina is also very rich in iron, which is the most common mineral deficiency. Spirulina also contains calcium, magnesium, and Vitamins A, B, C, D and E.

It also reinforces the immune system, helps with allergies, balances blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduces risk of cancer. [1]

Spirulina has more protein than red meat!

It is about 60-70% complete protein, which is greater gram for gram than both red meat and soy, and compared to beef, which is only 22%, and lentils, which is only 26%.  It also contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein; this is not very common in plant foods.

Spirulina has high amounts of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, both of which are needed for a complete and healthy diet.

It is very good at absorbing heavy metals. It has proven to remove lead and arsenic from contaminated water.

Could you ask anything more from a plant food?

Ways To Use Spirulina

Now that you read how spirulina truly is a superfood, here are some sweet and savory ideas on how to use it!

Spirulina Smoothie by Deliciously Ella

In smoothies, like this one.
Make enegry bites, like these coconut walnut spirulina bites.
Add it to guacamole!
Make ice cream with it.
Improve your salad with spirulina salad booster.
Or just easily take it as a supplement in tablet form!

Important note: if you are pregnant or nursing or have hyperthyroidism, consult your healthcare provider before taking spirulina.

Have you tried this ingredient? Are you curious to do so?

Sources:
[1] http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/01/spirulina-the-amazing-super-food-youve-never-heard-of.aspx
http://www.naturalnews.com/033698_spirulina_superfood.html#
Spirulina: The Amazing Green Superfood Fit For Any Smoothie
https://nuts.com/cookingbaking/powders/spirulina/
top image credit: Courtbean

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