BENEFITS OF SPIRULINA FOR THE HEART
Spirulina is a type of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), single-celled microbes that can obtain energy from sunlight, like plants, and are found worldwide in fresh and salt water.
Spirulina has been used as a food source for centuries, even since ancient Aztec civilizations (Karkos, 2011). Considered by some to be a « super food », spirulina is a good source of protein and vitamins; it contains around 55-70% protein, making it an alternative source of protein for vegans and vegetarians.
Spirulina contains essential and non-essential amino acids; essential amino acids are compounds that we need, but which are unable to manufacture themselves and must come from our diet.
The essential amino acids found in Spirulina include leucine, tryptophan, methionine, phenylalanine, lysine, thionine, isoleucine, and valine. In addition to being a great source of protein, Spirulina also contains other vitamins and minerals, including:
Vitamin A, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Vitamin B9 (folate), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K
Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae which is a super food and an excellent source of protein (especially essential amino acids), vitamins and minerals; vegetarians often use it as an additional source of protein.
THE ROLE OF SPIRULINA IN THE HEART
The main bioactive compound in Spirulina is phycocyanin. Not only does this compound give Spirulina its distinctive blue-green color, it also has the potential to promote heart health through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Spirulina may be of benefit in the treatment of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease.
Research suggests that Spirulina promotes vasodilation (opening of blood vessels) by increasing the release of nitrous oxide, resulting in lower blood pressure (Torres, 2007). Studies have shown a decrease in blood pressure in people who received high doses (4.5 g) of Spirulina for six weeks (Torres, 2007). However, more research is needed to better understand the role Spirulina can play in treating high blood pressure.
Non-human studies have shown that Spirulina, due to its phycocyanin, can decrease the amount of cholesterol absorbed by the intestines (Torres, 2007). Another proposed mechanism is that the antioxidant actions of Spirulina also work to lower cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood.
Studies show that people treated with Spirulina see a drop not only in their total cholesterol level, but also in their triglyceride and LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels (Huang, 2018 and Mazokopakis, 2014). Although not the primary treatment for high cholesterol, Spirulina may be of benefit as a supplement.
PREVENTION OF HEART DISEASES:
Cardiovascular (heart) disease is one of the leading causes of death, and associated risk factors include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In addition, the development of atherosclerotic plaques (fat deposits) inside your arteries puts you at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke.
By reducing oxidative damage through its antioxidant actions, increasing relaxation of blood vessels through the release of nitrous oxide, and lowering cholesterol, Spirulina may help lower your risk of heart disease.