Description of spirulina:
Spirulina is an alga that exists as such for more than 3 billion years. So named because of its spiral shape, it belongs to the family of cyanobacteria or blue-green microalgae. There are nearly 1,500 species of blue-green algae, spirulina and 36 species are edible. The main species currently available on the market is the Spirulina platensis. First cultivated mainly in California and Hawaii, Spirulina is now produced in a controlled way around the world where the climate permits: Chile, China, Cuba, India, West Africa, Greece (in geothermal greenhouses) etc. . . Commercially, Spirulina is generally in the form of a blue-green powder dried, in bulk or in capsules.
Spirulina, low in calories, contains a wealth of nutrients in a very small volume (partial list below). Its content can vary according to geographical origin, but also in the methods of cultivation, drying and grinding.
Spirulina contains 55 % to 70 % of proteins of high quality (proportion of amino acids and optimal digestibility) or 2.5 g to 3.5 g of protein per g of powder 5.
Spirulina is an exceptional source of mixed carotenoids (beta- carotene mainly, but also cryptoxanthin , lutein, zeaxanthin, etc. . ), Or about 22 mg / 5 g . In particular, it provides an astronomical amount of beta -carotene, or 12 000 IU to 25,000 IU per 5 g of powder.
It is an excellent source of iron, from 3 mg to 8 mg per 5 g.
It contains an appreciable amount of gamma -linoleic acid (40 mg to 50 mg / g 5), an unsaturated fatty acid of the omega -61. To learn more about omega-6 , see our fact sheet essential fatty acids .
Furthermore, Spirulina is rich phycocyanin, the only natural blue pigment can be used as food coloring and a significant antioxidant activity which is attributed. It also contains chlorophyll and small amounts of several minerals.
That is why we often speak of this alga as a «superfood »
History of Spirulina:
When Europeans landed in Central America , they discovered that the Aztecs were shooting the big lake Texcoco , near Mexico City, a sort of “mud” blue high nutritional value, the tecuitlatl or spirulina. In Africa, some tribes of the Sahara long been harvested in the Lake Chad, a similar substance, dihe, which is especially consumed by pregnant women and during periods of food shortage.
Since Spirulina is rich in nutrients and can be produced locally, it is used to combat malnutrition in several countries. Production farms have been established in India, Peru, Togo , China and Vietnam.
During the 1970s, spirulina has become popular in the industrialized health or dietary supplement food country. So much so, that a number of “urban legends” began to circulate about it. For example, claims about weight loss and disorder attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are not based on any evidence. These uses are not based on the practice of traditional medicine, mainly based on the fact that this alga is a food rich in nutrients.
Unlike other blue-green algae, spirulina is not contaminated by toxins called microcystines. If a product label bears a reference to the “blue-green algae ” “Superfood blue-green” type without the word “spirulina” is listed, it is probably another species of cyanobacteria by such as Aphanizomenon flos -aquae , which itself may be contaminated.
A test on about 82 samples of spirulina sold in Canada revealed that this alga is not contaminated with anatoxin-a, another dangerous toxin produced by certain algae.
The algae accumulate heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and cadmium when their growing environment is polluted. It is therefore recommended to opt for Spirulina cultivation methods which are strictly controlled: search for references to that effect on the product label, or, if in doubt, contact the manufacturer.
As spirulina may have a stimulating effect in some people, it is best not to take in the evening.
People with phenylketonuria should avoid spirulina, because like all foods containing protein, it contains phenylalanine.
In some people, symptoms such as gastrointestinal and headache disorders may occur, especially when starting dosages are too high. To avoid these symptoms associated with detoxifying properties of spirulina, start with 1 g per day for 1 week and gradually increase the dose over the following weeks.
No Interaction with other drugs or supplements has been found.