Spirulina, a type of blue-green algae, may just be the solution to a myriad of health problems.
The wonder algae contains high amount of proteins, vitamin B12, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients and is used for weight loss, cholesterol reduction, diabetes treatment, and many other things.
Spirulina is commonly available in two forms – tablets or capsules and powdered form. It is more convenient to use the capsules or tablets.
Spirulina was used in Africa and in South America as early as in the Ninth Century. The Aztecs in South America probably were the first spirulina cultivators. Spirulina grows naturally in tropical and subtropical lakes, with temperatures of 25 to 35 degrees Celsius. It is commercially viable to cultivate spirulina in open ponds. It is also grown in closed photo-bioreactor systems. For cultivation, it requires strong sunshine and a pure water body.
The important benefits of spirulina include:
--Antioxidant properties. Spirulina is a very rich source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are responsible for destroying free radicals and therefore help in preventing cancer and premature aging, enhancing immunity, protecting from toxins and other infections, improving the health of AIDS patients, etc. Its benefits therefore include its disease-fighting property.
--Beta carotenes.Spirulina is the richest naturally available source of beta carotenes. It is converted to Pro vitamin A Carotenoids. Along with other antioxidant properties, it helps in protecting the vision and eases some symptoms of lupus and arthritis. This antioxidant helps to prevent lung cancer, oral cancer, etc. Other antioxidants in spirulina include zeaxanthin, cryptoxanthin, phycocyanin, and lutein.
--Vegetable protein. Spirulina is an excellent source of vegetable protein with most of the amino acids that help build muscle.
--Cholesterol reduction. Spirulina helps to reduce cholesterol in our body. Studies show that it helps to improve cardiovascular health by reducing the concentration of bad cholesterol (LDL) and increasing the level of good cholesterol (HDL). By reducing low-density cholesterol, it lowers the blood pressure and improves the condition of the heart and arteries. Different studies have established that spirulina health benefits include improved cardiovascular function and lowering of the “bad cholesterol” level.
--Weight loss. Researches in Germany and India have shown the weight reduction effect and cholesterol reduction effect of spirulina in humans. Spirulina is rich in essential amino acids and proteins, but has almost no fat and is cholesterol-free. It can be taken as a dietary supplement to help achieve weight loss. Spirulina does not act as an appetite suppressant but, if taken before meals, provides you with easy to digest nutrition.
--Diabetes treatment. Diabetes mellitus is becoming a major health problem. Scientific experiments have shown that spirulina increases the activity of the hexokinase enzyme and the glucose-6-phosphatase activity, thus controlling blood sugar levels in diabetes patients. Thus, benefits of spirulina extend to diabetics.
Spirulina is a very good source of GLA – in fact, one of the few excellent ones. Its health benefits include anti-inflammatory action that can help in relieving arthritis symptoms and also helps in preventing heart disease, among other benefits.
Spirulina is highly rich in Vitamin B-complex, which is beneficial in maintaining cardiovascular health, in addition to its role in breaking down carbohydrates and lipids.
Apart from these health benefits, Spirulina has some side effects such as allergic symptoms in some people. Other side effects may include slight dizziness, nausea, thirst, and constipation.
However, it seems that the health benefits of spirulina outweigh its side-effect: The UNO has declared spirulina as “the best food for tomorrow” and the WHO has considered spirulina “the greatest super food on earth.”
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