Health benefits of chlorella
This potent green powder is grabbing attention for its various vitamins and minerals, but what are the real health benefits of chlorella?
What is chlorella?
Chlorella powder is made from a single-celled type of algae that grows in fresh water. It is bright green, giving the powder its intense colour.
There are over 30 species of the algae which grows in places such as Taiwan and Japan. Chlorella in its pure form has an indigestible cell wall, so it must be taken as a ground-up, powdered supplement to get its full benefits.
Health benefits of chlorella
Chlorella has made a name for itself as a nutrient-dense supplement. It’s full of goodness that can help our whole body.
Chlorella contains several compounds that act as antioxidants in the body, including chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein.
Antioxidants work by helping to prevent the oxidative damage of excess free radicals in the body. This can help to battle inflammation and chronic illnesses in the body. There is also evidence that they can reduce the risk of heart diseases and even slow the growth of cancers.
Chlorella is also extremely rich in a powerful antioxidant called astaxanthin. This is a carotenoid pigment hitting the headlines that we can find in sea creatures and some plants. It’s a compound with plentiful benefits, from helping to prevent signs of skin ageing to protecting our bones when exercising. Studies show that its powerful anti-inflammatory properties can help ease joint pain.
Research shows that chlorella supplements improve oxidant levels for cigarette smokers (cigarettes can cause high levels of oxidative damage).
Chlorella is also a very helpful source of important vitamins. It’s a rich source of vitamin C – another antioxidant that’s vital to our bodies’ repair and immune systems.
Some species of chlorella contain vitamin B12. Vegans and vegetarians can be low in this vitamin and non-animal sources are rare. Vitamin B12 is important for maintaining healthy nerve and blood cells as well as managing fatigue, so chlorella is especially beneficial for vegans and vegetarians.
Chlorella also contains helpful amounts of other minerals, including zinc, magnesium, copper, potassium, calcium and folic acid. Zinc isn’t common in many foods and is especially beneficial for our immune function and metabolism, while magnesium helps support our sleep and blood pressure too.
Chlorella is also a rare plant source of omega-3s. These are wonderfully beneficial essential fatty acids that have proven benefits for our brains, eyes and overall development. Researchers think that just three grams of chlorella contain around 100mg of omega 3s – which makes it a potent plant-based fish-oil alternative source.
Chlorella is also a helpful plant-based source of iron. Depending on the supplement and amount used, chlorella can provide nearly half of your daily recommended amount of iron. Iron is especially important for fighting fatigue and enabling our bodies to carry oxygen around the body effectively, so chlorella supplements can be good energy-boosters. In addition, the algae is also extremely rich in vitamin C, which also helps us absorb iron more effectively.
Protein and fibre
Chlorella consists of up to 60% protein, making it a valuable source of this macro nutrient. Unusually, chlorella is also a complete protein, which means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids (helpful for those on restricted eating regimes). Protein is one of the key food groups that works with many bodily functions, from managing our appetite to building muscles. It’s an essential part of our diet that can help us feel satisfied for longer. Amino acids are important for muscle tone and tissue strength, so making sure we have enough can help the body grow stronger and repair damage.
There is some evidence to suggest that chlorella can help to support our immune systems too. A small study found that taking chlorella increased the bodies antigen production. These are the cells that attack infection and help to kill foreign invaders in the body. Another study also showed improved immune reactions as a result of taking chlorella.
How to take chlorella
Due to its cell wall, chlorella is only effective once processed, i.e ground up or powdered. Supplement capsules are a convenient way to reap the health benefits of chlorella or use as a free-flowing powder, which works especially when mixed into juices and smoothies for a further health kick. Liz Loves this high quality chlorella powder from Naturya.
For more information about juicing and how to incorporate chlorella into unusual and tasty recipe blends, Liz’s book Juice is packed full of practical, step-by-step tips and information on the entire juicing process, including interesting ways to add chlorella.