Spirulina is a nutrient-dense blue-green algae that contains protein, antioxidants, a plethora of vitamins and minerals, and even essential fatty acids. But aside from its nutritional value, does spirulina have any clinically documented health benefits? Thanks to several recently published studies, we now know the answer is a definitive yes!
Here are three of the most promising ones:
Blood Sugar Control
Keeping your blood sugar balanced is important for two reasons. First, it gives you consistent and stable energy. And second, over time, elevated blood sugar can be harmful to your cardiovascular system, nerves, eyes, and kidneys.
Fortunately, a two-month controlled study of 25 people published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that spirulina helped maintain blood sugar already within normal limits.[i] This was exactly what a smaller, earlier trial had also found.[ii]
Your body needs some cholesterol to function, but it’s also possible to have too much of a good thing. It’s especially important for heart health to strike a balance between the two kinds of cholesterol: HDL (“good”) and LDL (“bad).” Another kind of blood lipid, triglycerides, can also have a major impact on cardiovascular health.
Who knew an algae could benefit blood lipid levels? Three studies of adults and children found spirulina helped maintain total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and trigylcerides already within normal limits, while improving the balance of HDL to LDL. One of these studies also demonstrated that spirulina helped maintain blood pressure already within a normal range.[iii],[iv],[v]
Your immune system keeps watch over your body, stopping anything that can cause you harm in its tracks. White blood cells, such as natural killer (NK) cells, form a key part of your immune system’s first line of defense.
Once again, spirulina proved its mettle. A 12-week study of 40 senior citizens conducted by scientists from UC Davis found that spirulina supplementation increased white blood cell counts.[vi] Similarly, a smaller placebo-controlled study found a 40 percent increase in NK cell activity after people took spirulina for just one week.[vii]
Green smoothie, anyone?
[i] Parikh P, Mani U, Iyer U. J Med Food. 2001 Winter;4(4):193-8.
[ii] Mani S, Iyer U, Subramanian D. Cyanobacterial Biotechnology. Subramanian S. et al, eds. Science Publishers, Inc. 1998:301-4.
[iii] Parikh P, Mani U, Iyer U. 2001.
[iv] Torres-Duran PV, Ferreira-Hermosillo A, Juarez-Oropeza MA. Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Nov 26;6:33.
[v] Samuels, R, et al. J Med Food. 2002 Summer;5(2):91-6.
[vi] Selmi C, et al. Cell Mol Immunol. 2011 May;8(3):248-54.
[vii] Nielsen CH, et al. Planta Med. 2010 Nov;76(16):1802-8.