Spirulina, a new “superfood” made from blue-green algae, has multiple health benefits. One of them is lowering blood pressure according to recent studies.
All of the supplements today are labeled as “superfood”, but why spirulina is one of the best?
A specific protein in spirulina was found to relax arteries in the laboratory and animals.
Spirulina is widely used in supplements and smoothies for a host of conditions including weight loss, hay fever, PMS and diabetes.
What is spirulina?
Spirulina is a blue-green microalga that grows naturally in oceans and salty lakes. As Live Science puts it, spirulina is an edible pond scum that’s been harvested by humans for centuries. Way back when the Aztecs even collected the good stuff from Lake Texcoco in central Mexico.
In the wild, spirulina is found in subtropical climates, but with modern technology, it is now grown around the world. The algae form microscopic “spirals” as it grows. These spirals tend to stick together, which makes harvesting it pretty simple. Combined with an outstanding array of health benefits, it is no small wonder that spirulina has been hailed as a medicinal superfood for hundreds of years.
In some cultures, is still harvested from lakes by hand and formed into dried cakes. But, the prized superfood is also widely available as a nutritional supplement, typically either in powder or pill form. Powdered spirulina can be added to a variety of foods and beverages; it is even used as a natural colorant.
Experts say taking just one to three grams of spirulina a day is all you need to experience the algae’s medicinal power.
This tiny alga is packed with nutrients. A single tablespoon (7 grams) of dried spirulina powder contains:
- Protein: 4 grams
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): 11% of the RDA
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 15% of the RDA
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 4% of the RDA
- Copper: 21% of the RDA
- Iron: 11% of the RDA
- It also contains decent amounts of magnesium, potassium, and manganese and small amounts of almost every other nutrient that you need.
Gram for gram, spirulina may be the single most nutritious food on the planet.
A tablespoon (7 grams) of spirulina provides a small amount of fat — around 1 gram — including both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in an approximately 1.5–1.0 ratio.
The quality of the protein in spirulina is considered excellent — comparable to eggs. It gives all the essential amino acids that you need.
It is often claimed that spirulina contains vitamin B12, but this is false. It has pseudo vitamin B12, which is not effective in humans.
What spirulina can do to high blood pressure readings
Around one-third of American adults are living with high blood pressure (a reading of more than 140/90 mmHg). This condition is the main risk factor for two of the leading causes of death (heart disease and stroke) – so, understandably, a lot of research has been done to find the best ways to control it.
Recently, a team of researchers published the results of their study which investigated the impact of spirulina on high blood pressure.
Blue-Green Algae, spirulina is considered cyanobacteria; it contains nutraceutical and bioactive compounds that have been an important part of alternative and holistic medicine for centuries, dating to as early as ancient Africa and the Aztecs (clearly, our ancestors were on to something).
In this study, the researchers used peptides to create spirulina in its digested form (a simulation of what naturally happens in the human body once the substance is ingested). Then they tested this digested supplement on arteries from mice.
Can you guess what happened to the arteries?
The spirulina was able to relax the arterial walls by stimulating a process mediated by nitric oxide.
The medical community already knows that nitric oxide plays an important role in managing blood pressure, since the more easily blood vessel walls can relax, the less likely blood pressure is to spike.
Importantly, people with high blood pressure often have a disruption in the metabolic processes mediated by nitric oxide which normally helps relax arterial walls.
The researchers were even able to extract and identify the specific bioactive compound of spirulina which contributed to this arterial relaxation: a peptide called SP6. As the authors put it: “SP6 interacts with an important signaling pathway known as PI3K/AKT. This interaction leads to the release of [nitric oxide] and, consequently, a drop in blood pressure.”
Here are 5 other amazing benefits of spirulina
Whether you do or don’t have high blood pressure, adding spirulina – to your diet – can boost your health in a wide number of ways.
- Lowers bad cholesterol levels, including “lousy” LDL and triglycerides.
- Reduces high blood sugar.
- It has a powerful antioxidant effect to fight damaging free radicals and protect against diseases.
- It has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect.
- It offers a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, including amino acids, vitamin B, copper, iron, and omega 3. Gram for gram it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world.
This health supplement is usually taken in pill or powdered form. For a typical dose, aim for 1 to 3 grams daily and you’ll be amazed at what this little superfood can do for your health.
Conclusion: Spirulina maybe is the best “superfood”, lowers high blood pressure, but before starting to consume daily consult with nutritionists how to add it to your diet.