From kale and quinoa to goji berries and acai, we are living in the era of superfoods. Powering our bodies and minds with exotic fruits and whole grains certainly makes sense, but who knew algae could provide such a generous serving of health boosts and benefits? Yes, for real, “pond scum” or as it’s referred to more formally, spirulina, is actually king when it comes to superfoods, and here’s why you should be incorporating this antioxidant-rich, blue-green plant into your diet daily.
Spirulina is impressively known as the most nutrient-dense plant on the planet, and with a nutritional profile like this one, there is certainly no argument or competition here. It contains a host of B vitamins, is rich in iron and copper, is comprised of magnesium, potassium, zinc, omega-3s, and vitamins A, C, and E, and has more than 26 times the calcium of regular milk. This freshwater plant seriously puts the super in superfood.
But let’s not stop there. Spirulina is not only well stocked with nutrients, it’s got an incredible amount of kick-butt antioxidant power to boast as well and is more protein-packed than a flank steak.
The primary antioxidant in spirulina is phycocyanin, which fights free radicals and contains powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Coincidentally, it’s what gives spirulina the organism’s unique blue-green color.
With 39 grams of protein, spirulina packs a serious punch. The algae is considered a high-quality protein comparable to eggs and contains essential amino acids.
But wait, there’s more.
If you’re not already convinced that spirulina is superior to all other superfoods, allow me to list out the many more reasons why what was scraped from the bottom of a swamp is so vital.
Helps remove heavy metals
Arsenic toxicity is a significant problem in the United States and Eastern nations. But with spirulina, that concern could be dramatically reduced. The organism binds with heavy metals in the body and can help remove them. One study found that a combination of spirulina and zinc reduced arsenic toxicity by nearly a half!
May lower blood pressure and cholesterol
Studies have indicated ingesting a higher dosage of spirulina (about 4.5 grams) may reduce blood pressure — a contributing risk factor to developing heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Furthermore, the antioxidants in spirulina are shown to be effective at reducing oxidative damage, which can lead to higher levels of LDL cholesterol. Fatty structures in the body are at risk of becoming oxidized, yet spirulina’s antioxidants can prevent this from occurring, thereby overall reducing cholesterol.
Increased muscle endurance
Studies have suggested that spirulina can also aid in increasing muscle endurance and strength. Again, the plant’s strong antioxidant powers come into play by lowering exercise-induced oxidation, which creates muscle fatigue.
A cup of coffee or tea can certainly trigger a morning buzz, but spirulina could be your real answer for an effective energy boost.
The extreme combination of iron and B vitamins in this superfood provides you with a refreshing burst of energy without the caffeine intake.
Could help with allergies
Feeling sneezy and looking for relief? Spirulina might help.
Various studies have concluded that spirulina may help reduce sinus problems related to nasal congestion, sneezing, discharge, and itching. This could be a result of spirulina’s vast anti-inflammatory properties.
Other studies have suggested spirulina could help prevent cancer, specifically oral cancer, anemia, and lower the risk of contracting HIV, but these studies are sparse and evidence remains slim.
How to make pond scum a part of your wellness regimen
The algae is commonly sold in powder or tablet form. You can mix one tablespoon of the powder into water, but the deep earthy taste of this drink can be quite intense for some people; you may want to opt for stirring it into a sweet fruit juice instead of water. My favorite way to use it is by adding it to my morning smoothie. But if you want to get really creative, you can add it to a raw chocolate and date brownie recipe for a healthy dessert!
Try this vegan spirulina cauliflower for a healthy, fiber-rich side dish.
Hawaiian Spirulina is just one brand offering a variety of ways to consume this beloved pond scum–from supplements/tablets to powder you can put directly in a shake.
While it feels like every day a new superfood is popping up, spirulina is bound to stay popular for its versatility and array of health benefits that are surely no match for any trendy berry.
Are you a fan of pond scum? Have you tried adding spirulina to your health regimen?
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Photo: Pixabay, Jessica Riley-Norton, Hawaiian Spirulina