Spirulina is one of the few supplements that may actually deserve the title of “superfood.”
It’s highly nutritious and has numerous health benefits, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improving the function of the immune system and fighting infections, boosting glucose metabolism, and reducing allergy symptoms.
It has also been shown to improve muscle strength, fat oxidation, and exercise performance.
The problem with spirulina is it doesn’t taste so great on its own, but luckily, you can easily include it in your diet by using one of the spirulina recipes in this article.
In this article you’re going to learn all about spirulina’s benefits, its side effects, how much spirulina per day you should take, tasty spirulina recipes, and more.
Table of Contents
Spirulina is a blue-green algae (a type of bacteria that uses photosynthesis to generate energy and stay alive) that grows in freshwater lakes and ponds around the world.
This is why people often joke that you’re paying a pretty penny just to eat pond scum.
It was once a source of protein for the ancient Aztec and African populations, and chemical analysis shows why—it’s an excellent source of a number of different macro- and micronutrients, including protein, essential amino acids, vitamins, and essential fatty acids.
Spirulina contains several other compounds that scientists have isolated as beneficial to our health.
The main one is phycocyanobilin, which makes up about 1% of spirulina by weight.
This compound mimics a compound the body produces called bilirubin, which inhibits enzymes that can cause oxidative damage and inflammation in the body. In this way, phycocyanobilin has both anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects.
There are fifteen species of spirulina, but three (Spirulina platensis, Spirulina maxima, and Spirulina fusiformis) have received the most scientific attention due to their high nutritional value and reported health benefits.
How much spirulina per day should you take?
The spirulina dosage used in studies varies considerably, ranging from 1 to 8 grams per day depending on what benefits the researchers hoped to achieve.
Here’s how to take spirulina depending on your desired benefits:
- For improving muscle performance, you want to take 2 to 7.5 grams per day.
- For improving blood glucose control, you want to take 2 grams per day (though the benefits are very modest).
- For improving cholesterol profile, you want to take 1 to 8 grams per day.
- For lowering blood pressure, you want to take 3.5 to 4.5 grams per day.
- For reducing fatty liver disease, you want to take 4.5 grams per day.
- For reducing allergies and nasal congestion, you want to take 2 grams per day.
In terms of how to take spirulina powder, one popular method is mixing it into a smoothie.
Given spirulina’s illustrious history and impressive nutritional profile, it’s no surprise that it has been the focus of a fair amount of human research.
It’s also no surprise that it does indeed confer a variety of health benefits.
The precise mechanisms underlying these effects are still being investigated, but nevertheless the exercise-related benefits of spirulina are well established in the scientific literature.
Research shows that spirulina is also effective in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels and is a promising antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which helps explain why it can improve allergies.
It even has anti-microbial properties and thus helps you fight off infections.
There are many delicious ways to add spirulina to food. Here are some of my favorite spirulina recipes . . .
These bars are not only tasty and packed with nutrients, but they’re also calorically-dense, making them the perfect on-the-go snack. They also contain about 14 grams of spirulina per bar, as well as 12 grams of protein.
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate hemp protein powder
- 1/2 cup hemp hearts, shelled
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup walnuts, ground into coarse flour
- 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
- 1/4 cup chia seeds, ground
- 1/4 cup dried mulberries
- 2 Tbsp. cacao nibs (optional)
- 2 Tbsp. spirulina powder
- 1/4 tsp. pink Himalayan sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups dates (about 20 pitted)
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- 5 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
- 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. almond butter
- 1/4–1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine all the wet ingredients (dates, tart cherries, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, water) using a food processor. Pour the mixture into a bowl with the remaining dry ingredients. Combine the mixture using your hands and form it into a ball. Evenly spread the mixture into an 8” or 9” square pan and chill before dividing it into 12 bars.
For more healthy protein bar recipes, check out this article:
Smoothies are one of the easiest ways to incorporate spirulina into your diet. This recipe is especially nutritious and simple. It contains about 3 grams of spirulina, which can be adjusted as you see fit.
- 1 medium ripe banana (peeled and frozen)
- 1/2 cup sliced cucumber
- ¾ to 1 cup almond milk
- 1 cup spinach or chopped kale
- 1 tsp spirulina powder
- 1 tbsp Plant+ protein powder
Use a blender to combine the ingredients until they appear smooth.
This recipe is basically a cashew-almond milk blend infused with spirulina. The result is a visually striking beverage that will tickle your tastebuds while delivering 14 grams of spirulina per glass.
- 2 tbsp spirulina
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 3 pitted dates
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
Soak the nuts for 2 hours and then blend all ingredients until smooth. Chill and shake well before serving.
Who doesn’t love guacamole? You can use it as a dip, or spread it on toast for the “millenial special.” And with this recipe, which adds 3 grams of spirulina and the bright flavor of pineapple, there’s a lot to like.
- 1 tsp spirulina
- 1 avocado, diced
- 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
- 1/3 cup sweet onion, chopped
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- A few pinches of salt
- 1 lemon, squeezed (or lime juice)
- Pinch of chili powder
Mix all ingredients and mash until soft and well-combined.
This fruity take on a milkshake contains 3 grams of spirulina. It’s delicious on its own, but you can also boost the protein content by adding a scoop of whey protein powder.
- 1 1/2 frozen bananas
- 3/4 cup watermelon, frozen
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp spirulina
- Optional: 1 scoop of Whey+ vanilla protein powder
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Ice cream is a classic dessert, but adding spirulina gives it a new twist that you’re sure to enjoy. Each batch of this ice cream contains 3 grams of spirulina.
- 14 oz full fat coconut milk
- 1/4 cup agave syrup or maple syrup
- 1 tsp spirulina
- 1 tbsp cacao nibs
Use a blender to combine all ingredients except for the cacao nibs. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, cover it, and place it in the freezer for at least 3 hours. Let the ice cream thaw for 20 minutes before serving and sprinkle cacao nibs on top.
Spirulina is mostly sold as a standalone supplement and included in greens supplements, and now you know why.
The problem with most spirulina supplements, though, is that many of them don’t contain enough spirulina to give you the full benefits (about 5 grams). Instead, many of them are diluted with cheaper, less beneficial substances like fruit and vegetable extracts, digestive enzymes, and underwhelming “superfoods” like wheatgrass, which look nice on the label but do little good in your body.
You can also buy spirulina powder and tablets, but these can also come with downsides. Some don’t contain as much spirulina as what’s printed on the label and others can even be contaminated with herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals, and other toxins.
Thus, if you’re looking for a spirulina supplement that contains the full clinically effective dose of spirulina without any contaminants, try Genesis today.
Genesis is a 100% natural greens supplement that boosts energy levels, mood, and libido; and enhances heart and circulatory health and immunity, and I firmly believe it’s the best spirulina supplement you can buy. In addition to 5 grams of high-quality spirulina powder, it also contains clinically effective dosages of four other ingredients that improve general immunity, heart and circulatory health, energy levels, libido, mood, overall well-being, and more:
- 2.5 grams of reishi mushroom, which decreases fatigue, helps boost the immune system, and protects liver and kidney health.
- 3 grams of Astragalus membranaceus extract, which boosts the immune system and helps protect the heart.
- 1.25 grams of Angelica sinensis extract, which enhances blood flow and reduces inflammation.
- 1.5 grams of maca extract, which improves sexual function and sense of well-being.
Thus, in addition to reaping the benefits of spirulina, Genesis also provides you with several adaptogens, herbs, and other phytonutrients you normally don’t find in greens supplements.
That is, Genesis gives you a healthier, hardier body with higher energy levels, more libido, and less stress, sickness, and sluggishness. If that sounds good to you, try Genesis.
The clinically effective dose of spirulina is between 2 and 10 grams per day, with most benefits seen in the range of 5-to-10 grams per day. That means you should take 5 grams of spirulina per day if you want to experience the most benefits in the most cost-effective way.
Yes, it’s safe to take spirulina every day so long as it’s free of contaminants like heavy metals and toxins. Contaminants are the main concern regarding spirulina’s safety, though most research indicates even large amounts of daily spirulina intake aren’t harmful.
Don’t take spirulina if you have phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic disorder in which the body can’t metabolize phenylalanine, an amino acid that may be present in spirulina.
Also, if you have an autoimmune disorder like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, it’s possible spirulina could worsen your condition by increasing the activity of your immune system.
Additionally, if you take any medications to suppress your immune system, it’s possible spirulina could interfere with these drugs. Talk to your doctor before taking spirulina if this applies to you.
You may not want to combine large doses of spirulina with medications that lower your blood pressure or blood sugar. That’s because spirulina can lower those on its own, and it’s possible taking spirulina and these drugs could lower your blood pressure and sugar too much over time. That said, the effects would be gradual, so you don’t have to worry about any sudden health problems as a result.
Although spirulina has a number of benefits, remember that it’s still just a supplement. Thus, you should never depend on taking spirulina to make up for poor diet, exercise, or lifestyle habits.
That said, spirulina can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Here’s what you can reasonably expect from spirulina supplementation . . .
- Increased muscle strength and endurance
- Improved cardiovascular endurance
- Reduced in blood pressure
- Improvement in cholesterol profile
- Lessened allergy symptoms
- Increased resistance to illness
However, as with any supplement, some people do experience negative reactions, which can include . . .
- Elevated temperature
- Slight dizziness (usually only when taken in excess)
- Thirst and constipation (which can be alleviated by drinking plenty of water)
- Stomach ache
- Skin itch or slight body rash
One other thing of note is spirulina contains iodine, which some people are allergic or sensitive to in high doses. Thus, if you think this might be the case for you, make sure you speak with your doctor before taking spirulina.
+ Scientific References
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