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Spirulina: A Healthy Addition to Your Diet?

Spirulina could be any number of things from the newest sugar substitute to the next diet soda brand because of its interesting and spirited name, but it is actually part of the natural health sector and is categorized as algae. Surprisingly, spirulina has been used across the globe since man started foraging for food. As a form of bacteria, spirulina is an incredible protein source and is popular among many consumers for its powerful nutritive properties.

Spirulina is a dark bluish-green algae that is dried and finely ground, then marketed in powder form or pressed into easy-to-manage tablets. Some people take it as a supplement and other cultures-like the Japanese-use spirulina in their favorite dishes, hoping to get the healthiest value out of each meal. With a protein count between 55 and 70 percent, depending on the form, spirulina has many minerals and other vitamins (like iron, magnesium, beta-carotene, and calcium among many more) that provide essential nutrients to your body.

Containing all of the essential amino acids your body needs to function properly, spirulina is also thought of as an essential fatty acid and contains most of the B spectrum of vitamins, namely: B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, along with vitamins C, D, and E.

Found among the Aztecs, spirulina has long been a source of nutritional value, even before its specific content was fully realized. Antiviral and antioxidant properties drove ancient cultures to grind it up, dissolve it in hot liquids as a drink or a broth, sprinkle it on foods, or even dry it and form it into cakes as an additional source of energy and vitality.

Spirulina is also believed to help diabetics regulate insulin and control sudden sugar cravings, as well as a weight-loss aid, which could be another reason people in Japan rely on spirulina. As recent as the year 2000 Japan was the fifth leading country with diabetes (the United States was third), and the rate of diabetes is spiking throughout the country.

Some scientists warn that spirulina has the potential to be dangerous if too much is consumed, thinking that the body will not be able to process all of the minerals and protein before they start to harm you. Worried about the kidney and liver working overtime, researchers are continuing to investigate these concerns.

Once thought to be a miracle cure, scientists in the 1970s prepared a plan to dose spirulina to third-world countries struggling from protein deficiency, but with the cost of spirulina relatively high and hard to reproduce and distribute without large financial responsibility, the plan was scrapped.

Not your average plant-based protein, spirulina seems to be a relatively safe and helpful supplement as long as it is taken with caution and the recommended daily allotments are not abused. Please consult your health care provider or nutritional advisor in order to decide if spirulina is the right addition to your diet.


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