Spirulina: what are the health benefits of this algae?


Spirulina is a blue-green microalga that contains a wealth of nutrients. It has many health benefits. It is also a beautiful ally and can be used even in the kitchen. What are the advantages of this food supplement? How much to take spirulina? Are there any contraindications? The answers of our expert.

What is spirulina?

Spirulina(Arthrospira platensis) is a cyanobacterium microalga of blue-green color, measuring 30 microns. It has existed for 3.5 billion years and has participated in the oxygenation of the earth.

Different strains

There are different strains of spirulina: “paracas, lonar, maxima…”, lists Julie Estingoy. Not all are created equal!

What is the composition of spirulina?

Spirulina is considered a superfood because it provides almost everything the body needs.

Nutritional intakes 

With 390 calories per 100 g (19% of energy), it contains 60% protein, 10% fat, and 7% carbohydrate. 

Which vitamins and minerals? 

“Spirulina contains almost everything,” says Julie Estingoy. It lacks essential fatty acids omega-3 and vitamin C .”

Here is, in detail, the vitamins and minerals it contains and their roles in the body:

  • Vitamin A: it is necessary for the maintenance of normal skin and mucous membranes. It plays a role in vision. It participates in iron metabolism and the functioning of the immune system.
  • Vitamin B1 is essential for energy metabolism, the functioning of the nervous system, and cardiac function.
  • Vitamin B2 is involved in the functioning of the nervous system, energy metabolism, and iron metabolism. It is necessary for the maintenance of normal skin and vision. It protects cells from oxidative stress and reduces fatigue.
  • Vitamin B3: preserves psychological functions. It is necessary for energy metabolism, the functioning of the nervous system, the mucous membranes. It also reduces fatigue.
  • Vitamin B6: it is necessary for energy metabolism, the proper functioning of the nervous system, psychological functions, the immune system, the regulation of hormonal activity… It also reduces fatigue.
  • Vitamin B12: it is beneficial for people who consume little or no meat. It participates in the normal functioning of the nervous system, in psychological functions, in the immune system, in the formation of red blood cells, and in reducing fatigue.
  • Vitamin E: it fights against oxidative stress.
  • Iron: it is essential for the formation of red blood cells and hemoglobin, for the transport of oxygen in the blood, for the proper functioning of the immune system, for cognitive development.
  • Magnesium: it is helpful for the proper functioning of the neuromuscular system. It supports the immunity of the body and reduces fatigue.
  • Manganese: it protects cells from oxidative stress. It participates in the formation of connective tissues, the maintenance of good bones, and energy metabolism.
  • Phosphorus: the body needs it to have good teeth and good bones. It is helpful for children to grow well.
  • Potassium: it participates in the proper functioning of the neuromuscular system and maintaining normal blood pressure.

Spirulina and heavy metals: what dangers?

  • Spirulina is likely to contain heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury because it is a good bio-accumulator.

In France, the cultivation and production of spirulina have been supervised since 2016.

 To ensure quality spirulina, when buying, here is what to check:

  • Spirulina must bear the mention of French origin or cultivated in France.
  • More than organic spirulina, I prefer spirulina without urea (a fertilizer used by many producers).
  • Avoid buying on the Internet spirulina that does not mention the origin of its product. Beware of “manufacturing in France” when the product comes from China, for example.

What is phycocyanin?

Phycocyanin is the blue pigment of spirulina. It is a protein that stimulates immunity. It is one of the most potent active ingredients in spirulina.

“The amount of phycocyanin depends on the quality of the spirulina,” explains Julie Estingoy. Poor quality spirulina contains only 5 to 10% phycocyanin, while extra spirulina contains 20 to more than 30%. “

What are the benefits of spirulina?

Spirulina has many health benefits. “It reduces fatigue, it boosts the immune system, it gives more vitality, tone, it strengthens nails, hair and many other things,” lists the spirulinière.

Here is, in detail, what are its positive effects.

An alga that supports the immune system 

The proper functioning of the immune system is essential to protect from external attacks from viruses, the microbes of bacteria, the air pollution …

Spirulina contains various nutrients that boost the immune system. These are vitamins A, B6, B12, and minerals like iron and magnesium.

The thesis ‘Spirulina: therapeutic indications, health risks and advice at the dispensary’ by Audrey Manet in 2016 shows that “spirulina fights asthenia by providing all the nutrients to allow the immune system to reconstitute itself during convalescence. It increases the production of new blood cells, it improves the phagocytic activity of macrophages and accelerates the production of the humoral system (antibodies and cytokines).”

It promotes weight loss. 

This superfood contains 60% protein. “The latter are very assimilable because spirulina has no cellulose membrane and it is four times more assimilable than beef protein, explains the spirulina, and they are satiating for a long time. A spoonful of spirulina 15 to 20 minutes before a meal allows you to eat less . You can also take a spoonful in the afternoon to limit snacking“. Other advantages:

  • Digestion is being extended.
  • The body’s energy metabolism is increased.
  • The proteins of spirulina maintain muscles and lean mass.

She is an ally for hair and nails. 

Spirulina is rich in protein. The latter boosts the production of keratin. However, keratin is the main component of hair and nails. It protects them and promotes their growth.

It plays a role in cholesterol. 

The bad cholesterol (LDL) should not exceed 1.6 g per liter. It can be responsible for infarctionthrombosisarteritis … A study carried out in 2007 (Antihyperlipemic and antihypertensive effects of spirulina maxima in an open sample of Mexican population: a preliminary report) shows that the consumption of 4.5 g of spirulina daily for six weeks improves cholesterol levels.

It reduces fatigue

Spirulina contains vitamins of the B group, vitamin E, and minerals such as magnesium, iron which boost the body in cases of asthenia.

What are the contraindications for this food supplement?

“Spirulina should not be consumed by people who follow an anticoagulant treatment, in the event of heart problemshemochromatosisgout attack and, of course, allergy to algae, lists the spirulinière. It should not be given to children under six years of age without prior medical advice. ANSES (National Food Safety Agency) specifies that it is also contraindicated in people with phenylketonuria because it contains phenylalanine.

However, not containing iodine, it can be consumed by people with thyroid problems. “My analyzes showed 0.54 mg / kg, so reduced to 3 g is tiny”, specifies Julie Estingoy.

How to take spirulina?

Spirulina is found in twigstabletscapsules, and powder.

In twigs and powder, spirulina can be associated with many foods and recipes. In tablets or capsules, its intake is only by oral route.

What does spirulina taste like? 

Depending on the spirulina, there is a little salty taste and, at the end of the mouth, a little taste of seaweed, of course. Some people also speak of a mushroomsunflower flavor, and others of muddy spirulina!

How much per day? 

Spirulina can be taken in the form of cures. “We can do a cure in autumn , in October, November and December and another in spring , in March-April, in particular against seasonal allergies, “recommends Julie Estingoy. It is also possible to do three-week cures of spirulina and phycocyanin. “If we take it daily, do not exceed 3 g per day with a varied diet and we can go up to 10 g per day in vegetarians, vegans and athletes who need vitamins of group B and proteins of quality”, explains the spirulina maker.

Who can take spirulina?

This food supplement is suitable for many people to stay in good shape.

  • Athletes: Spirulina helps them to have enough energy to perform a physical effort. It also promotes muscle recovery, mainly thanks to magnesium.
  • Vegetarians and vegans: its protein and vitamin B12 intake compensates for the fact that they do not eat meat.
  • Women and men who want more vitality do not have a balanced diet.
  • Pregnant womenpregnancy requires a good intake of iron, vitamin B12 … Nutrients found in spirulina.
  • The elderly: often eat less meat and may lack protein and iron. They are also more fragile, more tired. Spirulina provides them with proteins, iron, vitamins, and minerals necessary for the proper functioning of the body.
  • Children: “before the age of six, it is advisable to seek medical advice,” specifies Julie Estingoy.

Spirulina cooking recipes

Spirulina goes well in many recipes in powder or twigs—some gourmet recipe ideas from Julie Estingoy, Julie’s spirulina.

Avocado tartare with spirulina 

Ingredients (for four persons) :

Three avocados, ½ lemon, one apple, a few seeds of your choice, a few spirulina twigs for crunch.

Cut the avocados in half. Remove the core. Cut the flesh into cubes. Peel the apple. Cut it into 4. Remove the core. Cut the quarters into cubes. Squeeze the lemon juice. Divide the diced avocado and apple in ramekins. Drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with seeds. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Add spirulina twigs just before serving.

Spirulina tapenade 

Ingredients (For six people):

2 tbsp. To c. of rehydrated spirulina, 150 g of olives, ½ onion, 2 tbsp. To c. capers.

Add water to the same level as the spirulina and leave to rehydrate for 5 min. Mix the pitted olives with the peeled onion, capers, and spirulina. Place in a bowl and serve with breadsticks, toasted bread rings …

Crunchy pumpkin soup 

Ingredients (for four persons) :

1 giant pumpkin, 3 potatoes, 1 large carrot, 1 onion, 4 cloves of garlic, a few twigs of spirulina.

Peel the pumpkin, potatoes, carrot, onion, garlic. Small dice the pumpkin, potatoes, carrot, onion. Crush the garlic—Cook in a large pot of boiling water for 20 to 30 minutes. Divide among bowls. Add a few spirulina twigs before serving.

Mango salad with spirulina 

Ingredients (for four persons) :

2 mangoes, 1 lime, a few sprigs of spirulina

Cut the mangoes in half along the stone. Remove the skin. Cut the flesh into small cubes. Squeeze the lime juice. Divide the mango cubes into ramekins. Drizzle with lime juice. Add the spirulina twigs. Serve as fresh.

Spirulina chocolate cake 

Ingredients (for eight people):

250 g of dark chocolate, 50 g of coconut oil, 50 g of butter, 160 g of sugar, 100 g of small spelled flour, 4 eggs, 1 sachet of yeast, a few twigs of spirulina

Heat the dark chocolate broken into small pieces, coconut oil, and butter in a double boiler. To mix. Then, off the heat, gradually add the sugar, spelled flour, eggs, and yeast. Mix everything until a homogeneous paste is obtained. Pour into a buttered cake pan—Bake 11 min at 180 ° C for a very soft cake or 15 min. When baking, decorate the cake with a pretty heart made of spirulina twigs.

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