Many associate spirulina with being green, whilst the less common blue variety is simply an extract of this blue-green algae, but the vibrant hue isn’t the only hype around spirulina. It has been dubbed as ‘the best food for the future’ by the United Nations World Food Conference and its popularity increased hugely when investigated and used by NASA as a dietary supplement for astronauts on space missions.
This is not the first time that humans have been consuming blue-green algae. Spirulina was also used as a food source for the Aztecs until the 16th century. In those days spirulina would be harvested from Lake Texcoco and made into cakes. To this day, spirulina is naturally found in salt water and some large fresh-water lakes.
Spirulina hasn’t been named as ‘the food for the future’ for no reason. Gram for gram it is extremely nutritionally dense, its a good source of protein containing all essential amino acids and it is also a source of B vitamins, antioxidants and even a good source of iron.
However, it’s also important to remember that in reality, we’re unlikely to be consuming large amounts, meaning that it may only have a small impact on our daily nutrient requirements.
Spirulina is also currently under research for potential positive effects on the immune system, cholesterol and for those with malnutrition. However, it’s important to note, that whilst there are some positive studies on its cholesterol-lowering effects, higher quality studies are required before any definitive conclusions can be made. There are promising studies on spirulina when it comes to allergic rhinitis and blood glucose control in diabetics. However, some of these links need to be taken with a pinch of salt until larger, better quality trials can confirm these benefits.
Despite much more evidence being required before the health benefits of blue spirulina can be confirmed, at PRESS we still think that its nutrient dense nature and extremely cool colour makes it a great ingredient to add to all sorts of drinks and dishes...
Photo Credit: Chloe Palmer
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