Ok let’s be real: spirulina isn’t the sexiest superfood out there, but this blue-green algae’s incredible health benefits shouldn’t be ignored. Studies have shown that spirulina is therapeutically effective for cancer, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, viral infections, heart disease, and other inflammatory conditions. Rich in vitamins B1, B2, B3, copper and iron, as well as other beneficial phytonutrients like phycocyanin, spirulina is a plethora of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents when obtained from a high quality source. Unfortunately, due to its unapologetically green hue and fishy scent, this ancient ‘miracle’ food doesn’t always make the cut at mealtime. Here are just three deliciously sneaky ways to include this dietary superstar in your life.
Guacamole makes a great addition to just about any meal, and what better way to enjoy this it than with a superfood kick? Adding super green spirulina to your already green guac is a fun way to get the whole family in on some extra nutrition. The mashed avocado mixed with the cilantro, jalapenos, and salt is more than enough to overpower the fishy fragrance associated with spirulina. A teaspoon (or whatever the daily serving size indicated on the label) is all you need next time the mood strikes you to spread some spiraguac (or guacalina) on a piece of sprouted grain toast or as a dip for veggies like carrots or celery.
2. Salad dressing
One of the many perks of having a salad is how nutritionally diverse it can be, including its dressing. Stirring some spirulina powder in with a healthy oil like avocado or olive then coupling it with a vinegar like apple cider or balsamic is a great way to reap the rewards of spirulina without making your taste buds pay the price. If you’re feeling fancy, adding some dried herbs and spices, along with Himalayan sea salt, will ensure that your salad is not only nutritious, but delicious.
3. Pre/Post-workout shake
Looking for a boost in the gym? Post-workout soreness holding you back? Spirulina has been shown to increase exercise performance, making it a perfect add-on for any pre-workout shake or smoothie. One study found that spirulina has the ability to increase time to fatigue, meaning subjects were able to exercise for longer before getting tired. But it doesn’t end there; spirulina has also been shown to reduce muscle soreness. Ever have those days where you use being sore as an excuse to skip the gym? Adding spirulina to your post-workout shakes can help relieve some of the soreness that sets in over the next few days following an intense lifting session.
In case you need more convincing, spirulina has been shown to increase fat oxidation during exercise by 10.9%, meaning that subjects were burning more fat while they were working out. So no need to blow your paycheck on “fat -burning” supplements that may be ineffective or even harmful to your health. Keeping in mind that real food is most effective for any health or fitness goal, it is important to note that spirulina is primarily used as a food, not just a fancy supplement.
A great way to incorporate spirulina into your diet is adding a serving of raw spirulina powder into a pre or post-workout shake with a scoop of The Dolce Whey (my favorite protein powder), using raw coconut water as a base. Although the taste of spirulina is initially off-putting, the natural sweetness from the coconut water and the creamy, banana-almond flavor from The Dolce Whey mask the spirulina wonderfully.
On a final note, side effects from spirulina consumption are far and few, but still possible, so be sure to consult a medical professional before beginning any sort of regimen with this power food.
Deng, R., & Chow, T.-J. (2010). Hypolipidemic, Antioxidant and Antiinflammatory Activities of Microalgae Spirulina. Cardiovascular Therapeutics, 28(4), e33–e45. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-5922.2010.00200.x
Karkos, P. D., Leong, S. C., Karkos, C. D., Sivaji, N., & Assimakopoulos, D. A. (2011). Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2011, 531053. http://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nen058
Mercola, J. (2011, Jul 1). Ignored Since the 1950s - Is Spirulina Now a 'Miracle' High-Protein Super Food? Mercola.com. Retrieved from http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/07/01/spirulina-the-amazing-super food-youve-never-heard-of.aspx
Muga, M. A., & Chao, J. C.-J. (2014). Effects of fish oil and spirulina on oxidative stress and inflammation in hypercholesterolemic hamsters. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14, 470. http://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-470