Spirulina, a natural algae found in both fresh and salt water, has long been called a superfood because it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. The ancient Aztecs were the original users of spirulina, but today it is a common ingredient in smoothies, juices and more. NASA has even found a way to reuse it and grow it in space to help astronauts stay healthy, as reported in the journal Marine Drugs.
Now, spirulina is one of the most popular dietary supplements on the market. However, you should be careful as research into its effects continues. Before you use spirulina, you need to know this.
Benefits of Spirulina
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is considered one of the oldest forms of life on Earth. It is a cyanobacterium that uses photosynthesis to produce energy, like a plant. Due to its natural nutritional content, it has been called a human superfood, but how does it actually affect human health?
These are some of the known health benefits of spirulina.
It is full of nutrients and antioxidants
Spirulina has many different nutrients that the body needs to stay healthy, including vitamins such as thiamine for a healthy metabolism and vitamin A for maintaining vision, as well as minerals such as copper and iron that help improve immunity. There are also other nutrients, such as omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation, and antioxidants, such as phycocyanin and beta-carotene, which help reduce the risk of certain diseases. With its 60% protein content, spirulina provides more protein than many vegetables and is a popular protein source for vegans and vegetarians.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, one teaspoon of dried spirulina contains 20 calories and the following nutrients:
Dried spirulina (1 teaspoon)
14% Daily Value (DV)
20% Daily Value (DV)
6% Daily Value (DV)
47% Daily Value (DV)
11% Daily Value (DV)
Spirulina also contains small amounts of magnesium, potassium and manganese.
All of these vitamins and nutrients can help you meet your daily nutritional needs.
It can support healthy cholesterol
Spirulina has been found to lower “bad” cholesterol and total cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing good cholesterol, HDL lipoprotein. This prevents fat and cholesterol in the blood from clogging the blood vessels, which in turn can strain your heart. One small study found that those who took 1 gram of spirulina daily had lower cholesterol after just three months.
Maintaining healthy cholesterol levels helps prevent heart disease as well as heart attacks and strokes, according to Harvard Health.
It can help your immune system
Spirulina contains vitamins and minerals that are important for the health of the immune system. In addition, studies have shown that it increases the production of white blood cells and antibodies, both of which are used by the body to fight disease. Importantly, spirulina’s effects on the immune system make it dangerous for those with autoimmune diseases like lupus, according to WebMD.
Spirulina’s anti-inflammatory properties may also benefit people who are allergic to common culprits such as dust, pollen, and pet dander. It has been studied as an alternative treatment for allergic rhinitis symptoms, although further research is needed.
It can lower blood pressure
Spirulina can increase nitric oxide production, which relaxes blood vessels and helps them dilate. Several studies have shown that a daily dose of spirulina can help lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (the first and second numbers of the blood pressure reading). It has also shown beneficial effects for those with high blood pressure.
It can support eye health
Spirulina can also promote eye health. It contains a lot of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that the body converts into vitamin A. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, vitamin A has been shown to help prevent vision loss and improve eye health.
Mt. According to Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, spirulina also contains a high concentration of zeaxanthin, which may reduce the likelihood of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Some animal studies have supported spirulina’s eye health benefits, but more research is needed to better understand how it might benefit humans.
Risks and harms of spirulina
When talking about any superfood, it’s important not to focus solely on the hype and ignore potential risks. Here’s what to remember about spirulina.
Lack of research
Spirulina has been around for a long time, but scientists are still learning more about its effects on the human body. Many of its claimed health benefits are based on animal research or limited studies.
For example, one theory is that spirulina may help prevent cancer. It is rich in antioxidants known to fight inflammation that can cause cancer. It contains, for example, phycocyanin, which has been found to reduce inflammation and at the same time prevent the growth of cancer cells. However, research continues to investigate the exact correlation, if any, between spirulina and cancer.
Researchers are also looking into spirulina and possible prevention and treatment of colds, herpes, and HIV, but again, more research needs to be done.
It is not regulated
There are many spirulina products on the market today, but be careful when buying.
Like all supplements, spirulina is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Some spirulina products have been found to contain contaminants, especially if they are harvested from wild areas high in heavy metals. These pollutants can damage your liver with enough exposure.
In addition, some products may contain more or less spirulina than what is stated on the label.
Side effects and safety measures
Spirulina is considered largely safe in regular doses and is given a Class A safety rating by the Expert Committee on Dietary Supplement Information. However, some possible side effects include difficulty sleeping, digestive problems, and symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, headache, and dizziness. Some people have reported allergic reactions.
Spirulina is not recommended for people taking certain medications, such as those designed to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, or immune system function. In addition, it is not recommended for the following groups of people:
- Pregnant women
- People with autoimmune diseases
- Those who are about to undergo or have just undergone surgery
Before using spirulina, always check with your doctor for possible drug interactions and buy it from a reputable retailer to ensure it is legal and safe.
How to take spirulina
One of the benefits of spirulina is its versatility. Sold in most health food stores, it is available as a tablet, capsule or powder. It has a bitter taste, but mixing it with yogurt or a smoothie can hide it.
Doses may vary. Before taking spirulina, ask your doctor how often you should use it and how much you should take. You can also bring it to your appointment so your doctor can check the label and make sure it’s safe to use.
Spirulina may be a beneficial health supplement, but research continues to determine how it affects the human body. Pay attention to the latest research and buy verified products from reputable brands. Spirulina is not ideal for everyone, but your doctor can help steer you in the right direction.
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