Whether you’re a smoothie buff or just generally into health, you’ve probably heard of the superfoods chlorella and spirulina. But like many people, you may be a bit confused as to what these green algae actually do for your health, and what makes them different from each other.
Both chlorella and spirulina are freshwater algae rich in chlorophyll. They’re loaded with nutrients and tout numerous health benefits. To help you sort out the differences between these two superfoods, we’ve described exactly what they are below, as well as their differences and similarities.
Spirulina is a simple, one-celled, spiral-shaped micro-algae that grows naturally in warm, fresh water lakes, natural springs, and saltwater.
Spirulina isn’t just one of the world’s healthiest foods – it’s also one of the oldest. In fact, the Aztecs reportedly used it as a food source in 16th century. With its abundance of vitamins, minerals and protein, we can totally see why!
Chlorella emerged over 2 billion years ago, and was the first form of a plant with a well-defined nucleus. Unlike Spirulina, Chlorella is a spherical shaped, single-celled microorganism.
Chlorella grows in fresh water and is extremely small, with each chlorella cell being a mere two to eight microns wide. But, much like Spirulina, this tiny superfood packs a nutritional punch.
Nutrients & Health Benefits
Spirulina is considered one of the most nutritionally complete foods out there. It’s one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, and has 10 times the beta-carotene of carrots per serving. A complete protein, spirulina ranges from 55-77 percent protein, and contains all essential amino acids. Spiruina also offers an abundance of fatty acids including one of the rarest forms, gamma linoleum acid.
Spirulina is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as the minerals potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron and magnesium. And if you’re looking for another reason to supplement your diet with spirulina, this superfood is rich in phytonutrients including chlorophyll, polysaccharides, sulfolipids, and glycolipids.
Thanks to these nutrients, Spirulina has been shown to help your body fight infection and allergic reactions. It may also help protect against cancer and lower bad cholesterol, all while raising good cholesterol and possibly aiding in weight loss.
Chlorella may not be as ancient as spirulina, but it boasts just as many nutritional accolades. In fact, this green algae contains the highest amount of chlorophyll of any known plant. Chlorella is rich in the cartenoids beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein. It’s also an abundant source of vitamins B, C, D, E, K, and the minerals phosphorous, calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron.
Like spirulina, chlorella is rich in protein and contains more protein per ounce than a serving of steak. This superfood also offers a rich source of healthy fats including oleic acid.
Chlorella has been shown to help support healthy hormonal function and good cardiovascular health, fight against the effects of chemotherapy and radiation, help lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, and excel in removing harmful toxins from your body.
Clearly these superfoods are similar, but they do have marked differences, starting with their looks. Chlorella is a green algae, whereas spirulina is blue-green in color. Chlorella’s green hue demonstrates that it’s richer in chlorophyll than spirulina.
Chlorella also contains a unique complex called chlorella growth factor. This growth factor is caused by its rapid reproduction rate. With the ability to quadruple in numbers every 20-24 hours, chlorella has been shown to possibly repair damage to nerve tissues and aid in cell production.
Spirulina is thousands of years older than chlorella and can be up to 100 times larger. Spirulina is also richer in protein and healthy fats, including gamma-linoleic acid, which is essential for maintaining a sharp mind and healthy heart. Spirulina also offers higher concentrations of phytochemicals that help prevent cancer. Just as chlorella is known for detoxifying, spirulina is especially effective at fighting symptoms of allergies and boosting the immune system.
With their abundant health benefits, it’s clear that either of these two superfoods would make a great addition to a healthy diet. Joining the GreenBlender Smoothie Club is an excellent way to test them out and taste for yourself!