If you’ve been immersed into the healthy food world, you may have heard of these two “superfoods” called Spirulina and Chlorella, but what exactly are they, and are there any differences between the two? Both are types of micro-algae found in bodies of water, and both have powerful nutrients to help boost your immune health and aid in healing other ailments of the body. I’ll discuss each one separately, and then talk about the differences between the two.
Let’s start with Spirulina:
What Is Spirulina?
Spirulina has been touted as a “superfood”, and there’s plenty of reason to back up that claim. This bright blue-green powder isn’t a herb, but actually a type of algae, and one of the oldest life forms on earth. It’s also incredibly nutrient rich and full of protein, antioxidants, amino-acids, vitamin B-12, iron, minerals, and chlorophyll.
Spirulina comes from warm natural fresh water lakes, ponds, streams, and saltwater, but can also be harvested from man-made reservoirs. When properly grown and harvested, it is one of the most nutrient dense foods in the world. It’s been used as a nutrient rich food source for centuries among the Aztecs and other Mesoamericans.
The Benefits Of Spirulina
Spirulina is packed full of all kinds of nutrients to help boost your health.
- Spirulina is about 60% protein and is a complete protein, which means it contains all the amino acids for the body including an essential Omega-6 fatty acid called gamma-Linolenic, or (GLA). GLA has been researched for its anti-inflammatory properties while combined with a high quality Omega-3, like Fermented Cod Liver Oil. Since GLA doesn’t occur often in most food sources, the body has to naturally produce it, but Spirulina is one of the few foods that contains a natural supply of GLA.
- Spirulina has a very high level of Chlorophyll, which is an incredible antioxidant that helps detoxify the body and boost immune system health.
- Spirulina is high in Omega-3, 6, and 9s.
- Dried Spirulina is very high in calcium at 120mg per 100 grams, the same as 100 grams of 2% milk, which is perfect for anyone who doesn’t drink dairy and needs a great source of calcium. (I’ve seen a lot of articles say Spirulina has up to 26 times the calcium of milk, but I’ve been unable to find any sources stating this is true.)
- Spirulina is a great source of iron at 28.5mg per 100 grams, which is wonderful for anyone with anemia, or any other type of iron deficiency.
- Spirulina is high in phosphorus, which is essential in helping to remineralize teeth naturally.
- Spirulina is high in Vitamin K, an essential fat-soluble vitamin the body needs for blood coagulation, and also for binding calcium ions for healthy teeth and bones. (Check with your doctor before taking, or stopping Spirulina, if you’re on any type of anti-coagulation medication).
- Spirulina can even help increase fat burning during exercise.
What Is Chlorella?
Chlorella is very similar to Spirulina in that it’s a micro-algae, but it hasn’t been around as long and has a bright green color. Like Spirulina, Chlorella is also found in fresh bodies of water, but can be difficult to harvest due to its microscopic size and tendency to grow alongside other organisms.
Chlorella has been cultivated as potential food source because of its high amount of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. During the 1940’s, it was seen as a potential solution to the ever-growing fears to the then-current food crisis that was occurring. Now it is being used for all types of health benefits and healing.
The Benefits Of Chlorella
Since Chlorella is extremely similar to Spirulina, most of the benefits are going to be the same with only a few slight differences.
- Chlorella is a great potential food source with around 45% protein, 20% fat, 20% carbohydrate, 5% fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.
- Chlorella is extremely high in Chlorophyll, which enables the body to detox and flush out any harmful toxins and chemicals.
- Chlorella is high in Beta-Carotene, an essential antioxidant that helps protect the body against free radicals, and promotes healthy skin and eyes.
- Chlorella is rich in Nucleic Acids, which are key factors in DNA and RNA that help protect cells.
- Chlorella helps bind and remove heavy metals from the body.
The Differences Between Spirulina & Chlorella
Spirulina and Chlorella are very similar, but there are a few key factors to make note of.
- Chlorella has almost 10 times as much chlorophyll as Spirulina.
- Chlorella is more iron rich than Spirulina is.
- Chlorella has more Omega-3’s than Spirulina.
- Chlorella contains twice the amount of Nucleic Acid than Spirulina does.
- Chlorella is a single-celled microorganism with a nucleus, which enables its cell wall to bind to heavy metals and flush them out of the body.
- Spirulina is a single-celled microorganism with no nucleus, meaning it does not have the ability to bind to heavy metals in the body.
- Spirulina is easier to digest than Chlorella.
- Spirulina is the highest source of gamma-Linolenic acid (GLA).
Which One Should I Use?
I actually recommend combining both Spirulina and Chlorella together to get the maximum benefit from these two superfoods. Because of their high levels of chlorophyll and different cell structures, they are amazing for detoxing and flushing out toxins, pesticides, and heavy metals from the body.
How To Consume Spirulina & Chlorella
There are a few different ways to consume these two algae with the most common being in powder form. Some people like the raw algae taste and will add a tablespoon to their water and just drink up, but I personally can’t deal with the pond scum taste, so I need to mix mine with other foods. One way I incorporate the algae is by making a green smoothie with lots of organic greens and fruit to help mask the strong flavor. If you’re not into using the powder, the easiest way to consume the two are via tablet form.
The most important thing when choosing Spirulina and Chlorella is to make sure it comes from a pure organic source, as others can be contaminated, or have additives that can be harmful. Here are the ones I personally use, and found to be the purest form of both algae:
Things To Note
While both algae have been shown to be perfectly fine for consumption, and not pose any side effects or health issues, it’s still advisable to do a bit more research, or talk to your doctor before taking either of these as a supplement. Because of their high Vitamin K levels, they can interfere with anti-coagulation medication, and in rare cases cause an allergic reaction to some people with sensitivities. I haven’t found any harmful side effects, but everyone is different!
What do you think of Spirulina and Chlorella? Do you currently take either one? How do you like the taste? Share below!