Superfood Spotlight: Spirulina

What you need to know: Spirulina is a blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) found in tropical and subtropical lakes that have a naturally high pH. It was once the most coveted food source of the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican cultures due to its extremely high nutrient density. Today spirulina is still considered one of the most nutritious food sources known to man. As a significant source of amino acids, essential fatty acids (including ALA, GLA, EPA and DHA), vitamins B, A, E, K and C, minerals and antioxidants, it’s one of the best choices for a daily multi. In addition, it may be beneficial for boosting immunity, strengthening bones, supporting healthy vision and cognitive functioning. Research studies also indicate that spirulina may help prevent damage caused by toxins affecting the heart, liver, kidneys, neurons, eyes, ovaries, DNA and testicles.

Why you should try it: Once called “the best food for the future” by the United Nations World Food Conference, this blue-green algae is a complete protein source, containing all the essential amino acids. This makes it the perfect food for vegans and vegetarians. Spirulina should also be taken for its iron content, which is over two hundred percent of the daily recommended allowance. Iron is essential for building blood, preventing anemia and supporting a healthy pregnancy. Finally, spirulina’s fatty-acid profile may help lower inflammation and normalize cholesterol – raising HDL levels, lowering triglycerides and LDL levels.

Let’s get together: Spirulina is found in powder form, which gives us the opportunity to seamlessly add it to our fresh-pressed juices, green smoothies and superfood puddings. It can also be used to boost the nutrition content of a food, adding a little extra health factor to raw desserts, chocolate, food bars, granola, spreads and kale chips. Spirulina is also a killer natural food coloring, giving your recipes a dark-green hue. Since generic food colors have been found to cause hyperactivity and ADD, we love spirulina as an alternative, especially when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around. One thing to be mindful of when purchasing spirulina is the source. Many lesser quality sources of spirulina may contain pesticides, herbicides or microcystins. Microcystins can cause gastrointestinal disturbances and, in the long term, liver cancer. When shopping for spirulina, check out reliable brands like Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina Pacifica Powder. Their protein powder is a TCM team favorite!

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