So What is Spirulina ANYWAYS? (Superfood Series)

Have you ever sat and stared at the vibrant colors in a spring or lake? They are just beautiful, aren't they? Have you ever wondered what makes lakes and springs and other water sources their vibrant colors? Maybe you already know. It's algae. Various forms of blue-green algae. Spirulina is one such form of blue-green algae that is edible.

According to NASA, "the Nutritional value of 1kg Spirulina is equivalent to 1000kgs of assorted fruits and vegetables." In other words, it would take a LOT of fruits and vegetables to give you what just a little bit of Spirulina does. In other words, a little goes a long way.                          

Spirulina has joined the short list of "Super Foods" because of the amount of concentrated nutrients it contains. It is high in protein, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and antioxidants. Pretty much anything that any other vegetable or fruit can lay claim to, Spirulina also claims and more. And unlike other forms of blue-green algae, (e.g chlorella) Spirulina does not  have a cell membrane and is therefore more easily assimilated by our digestive system.

Mistakenly originally classified under the genus Spirulina, the edible blue-green algae that we know and love are technically classified as Arthrospira. Though we now know better the old misnomer has persisted in popular culture. Under a microscope, it look like this:

Spirulina occurs naturally in tropical and subtropical climates. Often found near volcanoes, it grows in alkaline lakes on every continent. It was a popular and much used food by the Aztecs. They referred to it as 'techuitltal'. One of Cortes' soldiers recorded how the Aztecs would harvest it from Lake Texcoco and sell it as cakes. Today, Spirulina is primarily harvested from either Lake Texcoco, Lake Chad in Central Africa or the Great Rift Valley in east Africa. 
Spirulina has been recognized by the United Nations, NASA and the European Space Agency (MELISSA). In 1974 the U.N.'s Word Food Conference declared Spirulina "the best food for the future" and created the 'Intergovernmental Institution for the use of Micro-algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition' (IIMSAM) to promote the use of Spirulina in the fight against hunger. Both NASA and  MELISSA are looking into using Spirulina as a primary food source for long-term space missions. 

Pretty crazy, huh? 

You can buy Spirulina in many different forms--in flakes, powder, tablets, or pills. 

Whenever I make myself a smoothie I always make sure and add powdered Spirulina. In small doses (1/4-1 tsp) you can't even taste it. Occasionally I will mix a teaspoon in some water and drink it that way. Though that is the best way to take it to assimilate all its nutrients, I don't recommend it for taste. Spirulina is a potent detoxifier so if you are taking it for the first time start out slow and than gradually increase your dose. 

Here's a recipe to try:

Spirulina Superfood Smoothie 
1 cup whole-milk organic yogurt
1/2 cup fresh pressed juice (I used apple) 
1/2 cup frozen blueberries 
1/4-1 tsp. Spirulina (Get it here.)
1 Tbs maple syrup (or sweeten to taste)

Using Spirulina is a fast and easy way to add more dense, green nutrients into your diet. Though it may seem expensive when you buy it in bulk at the store, a little goes a long way and it is worth its weight in gold.

Stay healthy and enjoy!

(Curious what brand I use? See it here.)

Do you take Spirulina? How do you incorporate it into your diet?


  1. Where do you get yours? I should try it if it's safe for pregnancy...

    1. I got mine at the Kiva. I took it while pregnant but you should definitely ask your midwife especially because of HGV. Like anything that comes from water there is a risk of mercury contamination and from what I read it is the same concern like fish for pregnant women. But like I said... I took it. And regularly. If you go for it remember to start slowly.

    2. I got my spirulina from DLA Naturals. It really helped me against psoriasis, and I can hardly even notice any traces left. I was really skeptical about these algae at first, before I got persuaded by my wife and tried it, but it turned out to be really amazing!

  2. Oh, how interesting!! Thank you so much for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  3. Can you recommend a pill form?

    1. Yes! Mountain Rose Herbs sells a pill form. (See ad on right bar) If you can stomach it, though, it would be best to take it not in pill form. You really can't taste it in smoothies! <3


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