When you examine the health benefits of spirulina, it's no wonder this superfood algae is growing in popularity. Some call these mighty green guys a "miracle from the sea," but what makes them so special?
Spirulina is a type of microalgae that grows in tropical lakes in Africa, Asia, and Central and South America. Though this superfood is experiencing a newfound celebrity status, it's not a recent discovery by any means. The Aztecs sold spirulina to Spanish soldiers in the 16th century, and the Kanembu people in the African country of Chad has made green, crumbly algae cakes for decades.
What makes spirulina so sought after is that it's packed with nutrients, making it an attractive dietary supplement in countries where large portions of the citizens are malnourished. NASA astronauts have even used spirulina during space missions. According to a January 2017 study published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, spirulina has "hypolipidemic, hypoglycemic, and antihypertensive properties, useful in the prevention of the metabolic syndrome," meaning it can treat abnormalities in the body that are associated with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Additionally, using spirulina for weight loss is common, as it can lead to a negative energy balance. This means that your body is using more energy than it's taking in, resulting in weight loss. Spirulina is high in protein and essential fatty acids and low in calories — an ideal combination for people who want to shed a few pounds. It's so nutrient-rich that it keeps the body feeling full longer so you don't give in to unhealthy snacking and junk food. Plus, it's low-carb so you can add it to your keto-friendly smoothies for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.
You can buy spirulina at your local health food store or online, and it comes in powder form ($20.95 for one pound, Amazon) or tablets ($24.60 for 400 tablets, Amazon). Spirulina has an earthy taste, which may take some getting used to. Many people like to add a scoop of spirulina to their smoothies or juice to balance out the flavor with sweet fruits, but it's just as delicious when you mix it with eggs for a supercharged frittata or swirl it with pesto for an unexpected pasta sauce. Go ahead and make your green dreams come true.
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