The World’s OG Super Food

Spirulina has been around for a long time – and it still provides far more health benefits than most other superfoods.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Spirulina has been around for a long time – and it still provides far more health benefits than most other superfoods. 

It wasn’t too long ago that kelp burst onto the superfoods scene and took centre stage. Now, it’s common knowledge that the brown algae is chock-full of fibre and nutrients, and it’s found in all sorts of soups, salads and juices. Heck, there are even kelp cookies on the market.

But there’s another algae variety that’s also considered one of the most powerful superfoods. It contains more protein than beef, chicken or soybeans and is so nutrient-rich that in 1974, the United Nations declared it “the best food for the future” and was a main fixture in the diet plans of NASA astronauts. Behold, the original superfood: spirulina.

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Natural wonder

Spirulina is one of the oldest life forms on the planet, and is a type of algae that can be found in warm freshwater lakes, particularly those in Mexico, Africa and Hawaii. Its makeup is similar to that of kelp and chlorella (another popular superfood known for its high concentration of chlorophyll). Consuming pond scum might be somewhat off-putting, but the health benefits are too amazing to ignore...

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Gross... but good for you

Besides being a protein powerhouse, spirulina is packed with vitamins and minerals including calcium, potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It’s also loaded with amino acids and antioxidants, which fight free radicals that can cause serious damage to your body.

On top of this, Spirulina lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol and boosts immunity. According to the University of Maryland Medical Centre, it even helps to prevent cancer.

Spirulina also stops the release of histamine, which is what causes allergy symptoms like stuffy nose, watery eyes and itchy throat, so it can help you deal with your allergies without any major side effects.

Plus, it also prevents the overgrowth of candida. Candida is a type of fungus that causes urinary tract infections, digestive issues like bloating and constipation, and skin problems including eczema and psoriasis.

And here’s the cherry on top: because it’s high in protein and fibre, spirulina fills you up and can curb hunger. It also maximises your fat-burning capabilities and elevates energy levels, firing you up during workouts so you can torch more calories.

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Go green

Spirulina is commonly found in powder and tablet form. While you can just mix a spoonful of spirulina powder into a glass of water, some people find the taste pungent, so try adding it to your smoothies, soups or dips instead. Just a small amount of this deeply-pigmented product can change the colour of your drink (blue-green or even black), so have some water handy to prevent stained teeth.

Images Text Adora Wong.

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