Like spirulina, chlorella is a green alga with a host of health benefits. Though it has been around forever, this single-celled alga remained well hidden in freshwater ponds in the Far East until the end of the 19th century.
While the Japanese were among the first to bring it to the market, it took a few more decades for the West to discover its full potential. Recently, chlorella has been receiving a lot of buzz and has earned “superfood” status because of its extraordinary nutrient density.
While there are more than 30 different species, only two species, Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidos, have been well-studied for their many health benefits. Here are nine of them you should know about to improve your family’s health.
1. Packed with essential nutrients
Chlorella is a nutrient powerhouse. About 60 percent of it is complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It has an excellent omega-3 to omega-6 ratio and offers a broad range of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, iron, vitamin B12, and beta-carotene
2. Binds heavy metals
Another reason chlorella has gotten some buzz is because of its ability to bind and help eliminate heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead, and other toxic compounds, such as dioxin, from the body. Its amazing detoxing properties come from chlorophyll and vitamin B12, which produce glutathione, a potent antioxidant to safeguard the body against toxicity and disease.
3. Boosts the immune system
Though the evidence is limited, research has shown that chlorella may boost the immune system to ward off unwanted intruders that can make you sick.
4. Improves cholesterol
Several studies have found that daily supplementation of five to ten grams of chlorella can reduce triglycerides and total cholesterol in people with high blood pressure and/or elevated cholesterol levels. It is believed that niacin, fiber, and catenoids, among other antioxidants present in chlorella, are responsible for the cholesterol-lowering effect.
5. Acts as a powerful antioxidant
Though more studies are needed to confirm the results, chlorella’s antioxidants — including chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein — have shown to lower oxidative damage to prevent chronic diseases.
6. Keeps blood pressure in check
When people with high blood pressure were given a 12-week chlorella supplement, they saw their levels drop significantly. While it is still uncertain what’s causing the effect, some experts believe nutrients such as arginine, potassium, calcium, and omega-3s help prevent arteries from hardening.
7. Stabilizes blood sugar levels
According to one study, there is evidence that daily chlorella supplementation may lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in both healthy individuals and those at high risk of lifestyle-related conditions within 12 weeks.
8. Enhances aerobic endurance
In another study, scientists gave a group of young adults six grams of chlorella or a placebo daily. After four weeks, the chlorella group had significantly improved the ability to saturate their lungs with oxygen, which is a sign of improved endurance. Researchers think the effect might be due to a collection of three amino acids that have previously been found to improve aerobic performance.
9. Manages Respiratory diseases
Since chronic inflammation characterizes many respiratory illnesses, chlorella’s antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory compounds may improve the quality of life for people who have asthma or other respiratory diseases.
Before you get overexcited and start to grow chlorella in your garden pond, know that they have a tough cell wall humans cannot digest. Therefore, you should always take it as a supplement in powder, tablet, or capsule form to reap all these amazing benefits.
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