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When we hear about herbal or whole food supplements, what usually comes to mind first are herbs and plants that grow in the soil. But there’s one place that we don’t usually think abou2 when actually, that’s where the most nutritious of them all happen to grow. And that is, underwater. Algae may not seem very appetizing, but as you’ll learn about what they can actually do, you’ll probably never look at them the same way.
Although there are actually thousands of types of algae and seaweed, only a few have been studied. Here, I’m sharing with you the amazing health benefits of spirulina, chlorella, red marine algae and kelp.
Spirulina is a type of freshwater blue-green micro algae mostly grown in Central Africa, America, Mexico and Asia. It has actually been used for centuries as a food by Aztecs. Today, because it is so nutrient dense, spirulina is considered a superfood. Although it can be easily consumed as a wholefood, it is mostly found as a supplement.
Spirulina has 60-70% complete protein. This means that it contains all nine essential amino acids, the ones that our body cannot make. This amount of protein is more than you can find in beef, soybeans or chicken.
It is full of antioxidants and phytonutrients, and it also contains a lot of iron, calcium, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and omega-3s.
You can get a clear idea of spirulina’s amazing nutritional value considering the fact that it has been used by the World Health Organization to supplement malnourished children, and by the NASA for space missions.
These are the health benefits of this blue-green algae:
- Can lower cholesterol: spirulina has been shown to reduce total blood cholesterol levels and triglycerides
- Can lower blood pressure
- Supports heart health: as it can help lower cholesterol and blood pressure. Moreover, as spirulina has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it can help prevent oxidation and inflammation.
- Can help detoxify the body from heavy metals: spirulina has been found to be particularly effective at treating arsenic poisoning
- Supports the immune system
- Can help prevent cancer
- Can improve brain function: some studies have shown that spirulina also has the ability to protect from brain disorders and the loss of memory
Possible side-effects of spirulina:
If taken according to the recommended dosage, spirulina is usually considered safe to take. However, some possible side-effects can include flatulence and nausea.
As with every other supplement, if you suffer from a particular health condition, especially an autoimmune condition, are pregnant, breast-feeding or are on medications, make sure you ask your doctor before taking spirulina.
How to choose a good spirulina supplement
When choosing a spirulina supplement, it is very important that you check where the spirulina comes from. If grown in unsafe conditions, it can become contaminated with heavy metals, other toxins and bacteria, and therefore be toxic for human consumption. Contaminated spirulina could cause liver damage and can be a danger for your health.
Chlorella is a freshwater green alga mostly found in Asia (Taiwan, China, Japan).
Like Spirulina, it has a high nutritional value and is also considered a superfood.
First of all, it is known to contain more chlorophyll than any other plant. And when you know that plant chlorophyll is the most powerful natural cleansing agent, it’s not nothing. And this is actually what gives it its rich green color. Chlorella is also high in antioxidants, fiber, protein, amino acids, enzymes, iron, zinc and B vitamins.
Because of the diversity of nutrients that it contains, Chlorella has a long list of health benefits.
This is what this powerful alga can do:
- Very effective to detoxify the body: This is one of its main benefits. Chlorella’s outer shell is made of a fibrous material that has the ability to bind to heavy metals (mercury, cadmium, uranium) and other toxins that accumulate in the body on a daily basis. It can also help the body to get rid of radiation from cancer treatments.
- Supports the immune system
- Can lower cholesterol
- Can lower blood pressure
- Supports heart health: as it helps lower total blood cholesterol levels and blood pressure
- Supports digestion: chlorella has the ability to promote the growth of friendly bacteria that are essential for overall digestion and bowel function.
- Can lower blood sugar
- Can improve brain function:
- Can boost energy levels: chlorella has been shown to increase energy and reduce fatigue
- Can help weight loss: this is because it can help lower cholesterol and blood sugar, regulate hormones, increase energy levels and remove toxins. All these are factors that often prevent someone from losing weight.
- Can help fight cancer: as chlorella supports the immune system, the body becomes more effective at fighting cancerous cells. Moreover, as it has detoxifying properties, it can prevent cancers caused by a toxic environment.
- Improves skin health: Chlorella can prevent oxidation and thus slow the aging process and make the skin look younger.
Possible side-effects of chlorella:
Skin sensitivity to sunlight, stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea and green stools.
Chlorella can cause an allergic reaction to people allergic to molds and those sensitive to iodine.
People suffering from immunodeficiency should also avoid taking chlorella.
How to choose a good chlorella supplement
When choosing a chlorella supplement, make sure that it has a “cracked cell wall”. Otherwise, as chlorella has a hard cell wall, we wouldn’t be able to digest it and it wouldn’t be possible for our body to absorb all the nutrients trapped inside.
Chlorella supplements are usually available in tablet, capsule and powder form, and are often found combined with spirulina (and other greens) for added benefits.
Where to buy a chlorella supplement?
We suggest these cracked cell wall chlorella tablets from Pure Planet. They contain 100% pure chlorella and no other unnecessary ingredients.
Red Marine Algae
Red marine algae is a saltwater alga, also known as a seaweed or sea vegetable, that has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and is often used in Japan to wrap sushi.
Red marine algae has antioxidant and antiviral properties. It contains a lot of protein, fiber, vitamins and trace minerals. It is mostly used to help strengthen the immune system, and support skin health.
These are the health benefits of red marine algae:
- Supports the immune system: as red marine algae acts as an antioxidant, it can protect the cells from free radical damage and thus helps to strengthen the immune system
- Protects from viruses: and because red marine algae has the ability to strengthen the immune system, it is particularly effective at protecting the body from viruses such as HPV (cold sores), yeast infections, shingles as well as reversing the damages that such viruses can cause.
- Nourishes the skin: red marine algae’s antioxidant properties help keep the skin healthy
- Helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol: partly because it is high in fiber.
- May help lower blood pressure
Possible side-effects of red marine algae:
As it is high in vitamin K, it may interfere with anticoagulants (blood-thinning medications). This is because vitamin K has the ability to form blood clots to prevent excessive bleeding.
Like other algae, do not take red marine algae if you are sensitive to iodine.
Where to buy red marine algae?
As with other algae supplements, it is important to choose a good quality product such as this one from Pure Planet, which only contains red marine algae and nothing else.
Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that grows in shallow coastal waters and has also been used for centuries as a food in Asian countries. It is particularly popular in Korea, Japan and China, where it is eaten as a food.
It is rich in protein, fibre, vitamin K, B1, B2, and different minerals (iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, iron)
These are the health benefits of kelp:
- Supports thyroid function: because it is a high source of iodine
- Supports weight loss: kelp contains a pigment called fucoxanthin that has been shown to help burn fat in the body. Moreover, because it supports thyroid function, it can make it easier to lose weight.
- Supports bone health: vitamin K also has the ability to increase bone density, making them stronger. This can help prevent bone diseases such as osteoporosis. Its calcium and magnesium content also helps to keep bones strong.
- Can prevent cancer: kelp has been shown to be effective against certain types of cancers. It has the ability to destroy cancer cells and prevent them from spreading
- Can prevent diabetes: some studies have shown that kelp could help balance blood glucose levels
- Helps fight blood disorders
- Can boost immunity
- Helps lower cholesterol
- Helps maintain pH balance: since kelp is an alkaline food, it can naturally help maintain a right acid balance in the body.
Like red marine algae, kelp is high in vitamin K, so you should avoid taking it as a supplement if you are on blood-thinning medications.
And because it is also very high in iodine, people with iodine sensitivity or who suffer from hypothyroidism should stay away from it.
Where to buy kelp supplements?
Kelp can be found in dried form to eat as a whole food. But if eating seaweed is not your thing, it is also available as a supplement in powder, capsule or tablet form. Just always make sure to buy a high quality product, as like other algae, kelp can absorb toxins and chemicals present in the water it grows in.
This organic kelp supplement in capsule form would be a great option.
As you can see, the health benefits of spirulina, chlorella, red marine algae and kelp cannot be denied. Although spirulina and chlorella have been proven to be the most nutritious of all, every algae has particular benefits of its own.
As algae farming uses much less water than most land-based crops and cattle farming, it is considered a sustainable source of nutrition. Especially chlorella, which can reproduce up to 8 times a day!
The amazing nutritional value and the variety of health benefits that they can provide is making these algae more and more popular as a natural way to stay healthy, detoxify the body and prevent many illnesses.
To be on the safe side, always ask your doctor before trying a new food supplement if you suffer from a particular health condition, are taking any medication, are pregnant or breast-feeding.