Spirulina: Superfood Spotlight
So-called ‘superfoods’ are becoming increasingly popular in this new era of wellness culture. Avocados, chia seeds, chlorophyll and dark chocolate, among others, have all had their time in the spotlight as many claims about their potential positive health impacts spread rapidly across social media.
A superfood is, by definition, a ‘nutrient-rich food considered to be especially beneficial for health and well-being’. That’s it. Lots of foods could fit under that very broad definition, but the key term here is ‘nutrient-rich’. To qualify as a superfood, it must have either a high content of a certain nutrient, or contain a large number of different nutrients. And the perfect superfood would ideally be both.
Spirulina, or Arthrospira platensis, falls under the latter. The micro-algae contains all nine essential amino acids, which is relatively rare in plant-based foods, and boasts a high protein content comparable to that of eggs, only better. Why? Because the type of protein spirulina contains can reduce cholesterol and triglyceride (lipid) absorption, and can increase nitric oxide levels, which in turn contributes to relaxing blood vessels and therefore reducing your risk of developing pancreatitis, heart disease, diabetes and blood clots. If that doesn’t convince you to try spirulina, the fact that it has been shown to eliminate cancer cells and tumours might. Additionally, the algae is rich in a multitude of vitamins and minerals, like beta carotene, vitamin E, C and D, which have antioxidant properties and contribute to good bone and eye health.
You can find both blue and green spirulina powder at most health food stores and even some large grocery stores. Blue spirulina contains more antioxidants while green spirulina has an overall higher nutritional value. Both are good, and you generally need to eat between 1 and 8g daily to have some effect on you, but careful not to exceed this dosage, because too much of anything isn’t good for you.
You can incorporate spirulina in your diet with supplements or using the powdered form in food. The most popular way is adding a few teaspoons of spirulina into smoothies, wellness shots, juices, protein balls or smoothie bowls. It’s practically tasteless and lends a beautiful blue-green colour to whatever it’s added to.
If reading about all its powerful health properties has convinced you to try spirulina for yourself (and I hope it has!) then you can find a personal favourite spirulina smoothie recipe below. Try it and enjoy your newfound health benefits!
SPIRULINA SMOOTHIE RECIPE INGREDIENTS:
¼ of a cucumber
½ cup frozen pineapple
1 large piece of ginger
½ cup raw greens (kale, spinach…)
Dash of sea salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 tbsp seeds of choice (hemp, flax) or nut butter
Coconut water or non-dairy milk (add as much as you need to reach your desired smoothie texture.
Optional toppings: granola, coconut shreds, more cinnamon, goji berries, dark chocolate shreds,
Wash your fruits and vegetables and chop them so they fit in the blender. Add all ingredients to the blender, pour your liquid and blend until smooth. Serve in a tall glass with a straw, add your toppings if using, and enjoy.