There are plenty of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and other plant-based sources of nutrition that come from all around the world, but have you ever thought about going beyond the confines of our dry land? Chlorella, a freshwater green algae, might make you reconsider how you go about supplementing your diet. Chlorella benefits are all that, folks. Seriously.
What Chlorella Is and How It’s Different from Other Algaes
Chlorella is an incredibly nutritious freshwater algae that comes from Japan and Taiwan. Unlike some types of seaweed and other sea vegetables you can eat in whole or dried form with certain dishes (like nori in sushi, for example), chlorella is typically taken as a supplement in tablet form or as a powder.
Chlorella is often compared to spirulina, a related type of blue-green algae native to saltwater lakes in Africa and Mexico. Both contain a wide range of powerful nutrients that are known to help detoxify and cleanse the body. Each of them are also rich sources of complete protein and all the B-complex vitamins.
Spirulina is best known for having restorative properties that help support a healthy cardiovascular system, brain and digestive system. Chlorella, in comparison, has a unique nutritional make-up that makes it stand out from spirulina. Not only is it an algae that grows so much faster–it’s also used to increase good bacteria in the gut and may heal certain immune deficiencies. In addition, chlorella is often used to stimulate cellular growth throughout the body to support and promote healthy tissue regeneration.
Physically active vegetarians and vegans are known to supplement with chlorella to give them a bit of an energy boost and help repair broken down muscles. Both chlorella and spirulina can even be used together for an even greater potential impact on the body.
The Health Benefits of Chlorella
There’s no question that chlorella is a very nutrient-dense organism that may serve the body well, but just because people claim it to be any sort of miracle supplement doesn’t mean there’s enough solid research to back it up. Some scientific evidence has shown that the purported chlorella benefits may have at least some merit to them, although some of this research has been conducted on animals and the long-term effects on humans still remain unknown.
If you eat a lot of fish that contain heavy metals, or eat fruits and veggies with pesticide residues, chlorella may help to eliminate those contaminants from your body. The fibrous portion of chlorella has been shown to bind with toxins that build up in our bodies.
2. Enhanced Immunity
Chlorella supplementation may be used to naturally boost the immune system. In a study conducted on participants who supplemented with chlorella over an eight-week period, results showed increased activity in natural killer cells, which our bodies need to help fight off harmful bacteria that could lead to infections and diseases.
3. Lower Cholesterol, Balanced Blood Sugar, and Weight Loss
Whether you’re a healthy individual or someone who is at a higher risk of developing lifestyle-related risks, chlorella may be used to help maintain or improve your health. A study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that in both healthy and not-so-healthy participants, chlorella led to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels plus noticeable reductions in body fat.
4. Anti-Aging Effects and Age-Related Muscle Loss Prevention
Several studies have looked at chlorella’s effect on oxidative stress, which can lead to a variety of different pathophysiological conditions, including accelerated aging. In a study conducted on chronic cigarette smokers, chlorella improved antioxidant status in the body, meaning that it could be effective at slowing down the aging process. Another study conducted on mice suggests that chlorella supplementation over the long run may prevent age-related muscle atrophy.
5. Anti-Inflammatory Effects and Wound Healing
Chlorella has been used in traditional medicine for its wide range of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants to treat inflammatory-related conditions. A study conducted on mice found both oral and topical use of chlorella showed significant benefits on skin inflammation, the overall healing process, and the duration of wound healing.
6. Cancer Prevention
A study that involved cancer-induced rats discovered that chlorella helped fight off new abnormal cells. According to WebMD, however, chlorella doesn’t quite seem to be powerful enough to slow down the progressive rate of cancer or improve chances of survival.
Chlorella Nutritional Information
Over half of chlorella is complete protein (about 60 percent of it), containing all of the essential amino acids. It also has a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids while offering up a good helping of carbohydrates too.
100 grams of dried chlorella generally contain:
- 58g protein
- 9g fat
- 23g carbohydrates
- 1026% RDA of vitamin A
- 722% RDA of iron
- 22% RDA of calcium
- 17% RDA of vitamin C
Chlorella is also rich in vitamin D, E, and K1, as well as magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc. In addition, it’s known to be the highest source of chlorophyll, containing 10 times more chlorophyll that you can get from alfalfa.
How to Shop for Chlorella Supplements
You can check your local health food store for this supplement in tablet or powder form, or alternatively look to buy it online. Bear in mind that the nutritional content of chlorella products can vary widely depending on how the algae was grown and processed, so plan on doing a bit of research on brands you’re interested in. Previous investigations on some chlorella products have been known to reveal protein values as low as 7 percent and as high as 88 percent.
Since chlorella has a cellular wall that’s difficult for human digestion, it should be broken down to get the full health benefits. When shopping around for chlorella supplements, make sure you choose one that clearly states that its cells walls have been cracked. They’ll be almost twice as digestible as other chlorella products.
Chlorella Side Effects
Chlorella can cause serious allergic reactions in some people, particularly in those who are sensitive to iodine, so please speak to your doctor first before going right ahead and incorporating this supplement into your diet. Other common side effects that sometimes occur during the first week of use include nausea, gas, diarrhea, stomach upset, and discolored stool.
Interestingly enough, chlorella can even cause your skin to become more sensitive to sunlight, so be sure to take extra precautions when taking this supplement by covering up and applying sunscreen before heading outdoors.
Have you ever taken a chlorella or spirulina supplement? If so, what were your results like? And if you haven’t, would you ever consider taking it (after talking to your doctor about it)? Leave a comment to let us know.
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