by Doug DiPasquale Sep 16th 2010 5:00PMIn this age of processed foods and nutrient-depleted produce, sometimes we have to turn to other ways of enhancing our diets to keep our bodies in top form. But some people don’t like doing supplements — admittedly, the thought of taking a handful of pills at every meal isn’t the most appealing thing. This is where superfoods can really shine.
Although there is no official definition of what a superfood is, they’re generally recognized as foods that have a higher concentration of nutrients. These power foods may contain a high concentration of phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, enzymes or antioxidants or they may be particularly high in essential fats or protein.
One of the superfoods that really sparkles is spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green fresh water algae farmed in pristine lakes around the world for the purpose of supplementation. It is an incredibly nutrient-dense food, containing omega-3 fats, lots of minerals (including about 5 times more calcium than whole milk), a complete protein profile, high vitamin E and beta carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. It’s also a good source of chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants that is high in magnesium.Even better, these nutrients are all absorbable — the structure of spirulina is highly digestible, allowing for rapid absorption. It also contains phytonutrients like alpha carotene, zeaxanthin (an antioxidant good for eye health), as well as enzymes, polysaccharides, glycogen and more.
Recently, the journal Nutra Foods gathered together the results of all the different studies that have been done on spirulina, and the literature has shown the potential health benefits of the algae to include immune health, cardiovascular health and potential anti-cancer effects.
The authors reported spirulina to have “potent immune stimulating effects [and]… anti-viral activity against a variety of harmful viruses.” In humans, this takes the form of an immune-modulating and stimulating effect enhancing our resistance to infections, influencing new blood cell formation and stimulating the production of antibodies and cytokines.
The algae also “shows promise as a cancer preventative agent” and may be beneficial in the treatment of tumors. Although the authors acknowledged a shortage of clinical research on humans, numerous animal studies have shown spirulina’s potential to prevent the formation of cancer and to shrink tumors.
Spirulina also has “far ranging cardiovascular benefits,” including the ability to improve the profile of blood lipids, prevent atherosclerosis and control blood pressure. In fact, oral consumption of spirulina has been shown to lower blood triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, both good indicators of the risk of future heart attack.
As you can see, spirulina is a fantastic superfood to supplement your diet. It’s easy to use — you can take it in a powder form which can be added to smoothies, juice or water. It doesn’t taste the best, however, so masking it in a flavourful beverage is recommended.
The Healthy Foodie is Doug DiPasquale, Holistic Nutritionist and trained chef, living in Toronto. You can email him with questions at email@example.com.
Have you heard about Spirulina?? Apparently it is something you should be including in your diet. If you like superfoods then you will love the benefits that Spirulina can provide you with.
Check it out and see if it is something you should include in your diet!