Although spirulina has been consumed as early as the sixteenth century, it has only recently gained popularity as bloggers and nutritionists increasingly highlight the health benefits of it. Here I offer a little more detail about this green powder by examining what exactly it is and what health benefits it brings. Plus, if you fancy trying spirulina out for yourself, read on to find our competition winning recipe from blogger Molly at Fuelling the Fork!
What is spirulina?
Given its vibrant green colour you may be unsurprised to learn that spirulina is, in fact, a type of algae. It is grown in fresh water pools in tropical climates such as Africa and Asia and is then harvested without chemical pesticides. After being harvested spirulina is dried and this creates a powder that can be used in that form or made into tablets. As no chemicals or other ingredients are added at this stage spirulina a very natural, healthy ingredient that can be used in a variety of dishes including smoothies.
Health benefits of spirulina
Ok, so I’ll agree that for most people spirulina is not exactly an everyday food but given the fact it is packed full of nutrients, this colourful powder definitely should be given more attention.
First of all, spirulina is a great vegan source of iron and, in fact, it contains a whopping ten times more iron than raw liver! This is really valuable for vegans as iron is a mineral that can be hard to find in high quantities in foods other than meat. Iron is needed to transport oxygen throughout the body and so not having enough of it can leave you feeling fatigued both mentally and physically. As well as iron though, spirulina also provides a very high quantity of vegan protein so you can see why it is often described as being nutrient-dense!
Vitamin C and selenium are also abundant in spirulina - these are antioxidants which help to protect cells and tissues from damage so they are super important. However, as well as vitamin C, spirulina also contains vitamins A, D and E which are important for eye health, immune function and even bone health.
Other minerals that are found in spirulina include magnesium, zinc and calcium which again are essential for a variety of things including cell production and muscle and joint health.
As well as containing these important vitamins and minerals though, spirulina has been shown to be beneficial in reducing cholesterol levels, blood pressure 1 and it may even help with allergies too!2
So, with all the nutrients contained in spirulina, as well as the positive research surrounding it, it’s hard to deem spirulina as anything other than a super food!
Where can I get spirulina?
If you wish to try spirulina for yourself then Creative Nature Spirulina Powder is a great option (read on for a delicious recipe to use it in). This powder is organically cultivated from freshwater pools and is then dried very gently so that it does not lose any of the goodness that I’ve just discussed.
Molly is a plant-based food blogger from Edinburgh who won our recent blogger competition with this delicious smoothie bowl recipe. Soon to graduate as a registered nutritional therapist, Molly is passionate about nutrition and believes that the food we put on our plates can have a powerful impact on our health and wellbeing.
"Don't let spirulina's earthy taste or vibrant colour put you off. Its impressive nutrient profile, packed with antioxidants, makes it a great way to switch up your smoothie and add a nutritional boost!"
Spirulina smoothie bowl recipe
80g frozen banana
30g ripe avocado
30g fresh spinach
4 mint leaves
75g coconut yoghurt
75ml coconut milk (not from a tin)
Blend and enjoy!