When it comes to edible algae, you’ve probably heard of a blue-green one, called Spirulina. Got a greens powder? Spirulina is probably in the ingredients. But you may not have heard of Chlorella (not to be confused with Cholera - the unfortunate illness that might have taken out your Oregon Trail wagon party), Spirulina’s equally potent but lesser-known cousin.
While Spirulina is a blue-green, saltwater-based algae, Chlorella is green and grows in freshwater. Chlorella, as its name implies, has more chlorophyll than any other microalgae, and significantly more chlorophyll than any of the green vegetables. Chlorophyll is an antioxidant required in order for plants to convert carbon dioxide to oxygen using the sun’s energy, and it’s been shown to aid the body in detoxifying the liver, healing wounds, and fighting cancerous cells.
Why Is Everyone Excited About Algae as a Food?
Considered a superfood because of its high nutrient density, Chlorella contains a high amount of protein (just one ounce - or three tablespoons of Chlorella contains 16G!) and is a great source of vitamins A, B2, B3, and essential minerals like Iron, Magnesium, and Zinc.
Environmentalists are betting on microalgaes as a future alternative to other protein sources that put a lot of strain on the environment. That’s because 100 grams of a high quality microalgae supplement, like spirulina, contains more protein than 100 grams of 20% lean ground beef. Chlorella is unique in that it can reproduce at an extremely high rate and quadruple in volume in less than 24 hours - much faster than Spirulina. This makes it sustainable, hearty, and easy to grow.
In addition to being highly nutrient dense, Chlorella has been shown to have chemopreventive and anti-mutagenic effects, meaning it helps the body fight the growth of cancer cells, and combats free radicals that mutate cells, like molds, tobacco particles, and carcinogens (like burnt foods). (Tip: find out more about free-radical fighting agents in our recent post about antioxidants.)
The size and shape of the single-cell Chlorella microalgae is similar to a red blood cell, and gives it the unique ability to adhere to and flush out heavy metal particles when correctly processed as a food supplement. By removing foreign particles and irritating substances from the body, Chlorella not only fights cancer-causing particles but also treats and reduces inflammation, boosting immunity. Experts recommend consuming a small dose of microalgae daily as a preventative and detoxifying health routine.
What should I look for in a supplement?
When buying Chlorella (or Spirulina) supplements, choose products that are stored in non-transparent containers, which block exposure to the sun and extend shelf life. For the same reason, check to make sure the Chlorella is air-dried rather than sun-dried. Lower quality supplements will have much lower nutrient levels, so you won’t get the full benefit.
We’re excited to include KIKI’s Health’s Chlorella Tablets in our February box for you to try! KIKI’s organic Chlorella supplement is made from 100% pure Chlorella powder, which has been compressed into a tablet, making it free from binders, fillers and additives. Just the way we like our partner products! Try it blended into a smoothie, or taken with your daily vitamins. #getyogreenson