What is Spirulina? 5 Health Benefits + How to Consume it Daily

by | Updated: October 21st, 2019 | Read time: 4 minutes

Thanks to its recent surge in popularity on social media, spirulina is no longer the unknown superfood it once was.

You’ve probably seen it yourself on your Instagram feed! Spirulina is the ingredient that gives those beautiful bowls, smoothies – and even pancakes – that mesmerizing blue-green hue (leaving zero need for artificial coloring!). But, although a huge bonus, spirulina is beneficial for so much more than just a pretty picture.

Spirulina Smoothie Bowl with Berries & Hemp Seeds | Vitacost.com/Blog

Spirulina Benefits

Here are five reasons why you should include this ancient superfood in your daily supplement regimen.

1. Year-round immune support†

Getting sick is not fun. Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables combined with daily exercise, positive mental health habits, such as meditation, and good hygiene can all help keep your body healthy. But including a spirulina supplement can provide your body with extra immune support†, according to several human clinical studies.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that spirulina has shown positive effects on immune variables and antioxidant activity.† Another study has found that spirulina supports healthy aging by boosting the immune system.†

2. Supports cardiovascular health†

Heart disease is the world’s leading cause of death. While this is a sobering statistic, heart health can be improved by living a healthier lifestyle, eating the right foods and following a healthy diet.

The heart may be one of the hardest working organs in the body, but it doesn’t work alone. The cardiovascular system is comprised of arteries that carry blood away from the heart and veins that carry blood back to the heart. Spirulina has been shown to support the cardiovascular system, by supporting normal cholesterol and lipid profiles,† as well as normal blood pressure levels.† This is in part attributed to a blue pigment and antioxidant called phycocyanin – only found in blue-green algae like spirulina.

3. Provides plant-based nutrition to nourish the body and support a healthy lifestyle

There’s a reason why spirulina is called “nature’s superfood supplement,” – it’s packed full of nutrients! In fact, Hawaiian Spirulina® is so nutrient-dense that one serving (3 grams) has higher levels of some key nutrients (antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins and minerals) than five servings of fruits and vegetables. Spirulina is not just the trendy superfood of the year either. It has been used as a staple food source, especially during times of famine, for centuries in different regions of the world such as Africa and Mexico.

So, what makes spirulina such a nutrient-dense supplement? Spirulina is made up of 55-70 percent digestible, complete protein (containing all essential amino acids). Gram per gram, spirulina has more protein than beef, chicken and soybeans. It also contains high nutritional values for iron, vitamin A (as beta carotene), vitamin K, vitamin B12, and other numerous healthful nutrients including chlorophyll.  One 3 gram serving of Hawaiian spirulina has more chlorophyll in it than an entire cup of raw spinach.

Plus, spirulina is an easy way to provide nutrition to people who often don’t have time to eat well-balanced meals or picky kids that need to eat more greens. Just add it to a smoothie or juice.

4. Environmentally friendly choice

These days, more and more vegetarian and vegan options are being offered at restaurants and grocery stores. The rise of non-dairy milk and plant-based burgers signal a positive consumer shift toward the acceptance of these earth-friends and cruelty-free foods.

Spirulina is an ideal source of vegan protein and environmentally friendly as well. Did you know that one acre of Hawaiian spirulina produces 14,500 lbs. of protein per year versus only 20 lbs. of protein produced by beef per year? Additionally, Hawaiian spirulina only uses 160 gallons of water to produce a pound of protein. Beef cows need 2,500 gallons of water to produce a single pound of protein. Yikes!

5. Super fun recipe ingredient

When it comes to consuming spirulina, the list of benefits is long. But, you might still be wondering how to incorporate this superfood into your daily meals.

Spirulina is typically offered in either capsules, tablets or powder form. Capsules and tablets are convenient when you may not have time to make a meal. Powder, however, can be easily added to many recipes. Spirulina does have a seaweed or ocean taste to it, so it’s best consumed in a smoothie or juice instead of plain water to conceal the flavor.

Simply add a teaspoon of spirulina powder to your favorite smoothie recipe to maximize your nutrition gains. Or, try our Aloha Spirulina Smoothie Bowl recipe, which is topped with refreshing tropical fruits.

You can also sprinkle spirulina on your popcorn, blend it into superfood energy bites and mix it into yogurt. Just be sure to not overheat or bake it, as heat can be damaging to some of the nutrients.

Don’t want to use food coloring? Try adding spirulina to your frosting or batter. Spirulina can also be mixed into facial mask recipes for glowing skin. There are many ways to add spirulina to everyday recipes and can even be made fun for kids. The green smoothie they don’t want to drink? Call it the “Hulk” smoothie to bring on the smiles.

†These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.