Health Benefits of Chlorella in Food
Some of the world’s most nutritious food sources come from some pretty freaking weird places. These “superfoods” live up to that name by offering a high density of nutrients that even scientists have trouble understanding.
Maybe you’re just getting into superfoods now or maybe you’ve been interested in them for years, but there’s one that you may have missed in your research so far – chlorella. Wait, what?
This may not be the most hyped superfood on the market, but it’s a hidden gem that you should take another look at.
Today we’re doing a deep dive on chlorella, what makes it so great, and some of the best ways to get more of it in your daily diet.
What is Chlorella?
Ever thought you’d be eager to eat algae? Well, here we are, and we promise it’s not as slimy as it sounds. Chlorella is a genus of green algae made up of tiny, spherical cells that lack flagella. Within the chlorella genus are 30 known species of algae, but we tend to only focus on two types – vulgaris and pyrenoidosa.
Because of high concentrations of photosynthetic pigments called chlorophyll, chlorella is bright green and highly efficient in performing photosynthesis. It only requires water, sunlight, some carbon dioxide, and a small number of minerals to rapidly multiply!
Chlorella Discovery and Origins
The name chlorella combines the Greek word for green, chloros, with the Latin suffix ella, meaning small. While this name was first mentioned in research dating back to the 1890s, chlorella became a thing in science in the 20th century.
Otto Heinrich Warburg, a German biochemist, studied photosynthesis in Chlorella as part of his research on cell respiration, which won him a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1931.
Thirty years later, Melvin Calvin received a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research involving chlorella and the pathways of carbon dioxide assimilation in plants. The Calvin cycle was born, and we can thank chlorella for playing a key role.
World Hunger Cure?
The real research on chlorella as a food source began around the time of the Baby Boom in the Post-War USA in the late 40s and early 50s. Facing a steep population increase and concerns about starvation, scientists looked to chlorella as a possible source of nutrition that could stop the crisis in its tracks.
Researchers from top institutions like Stanford, the Carnegie Institution, and the Rockefeller Foundation were all on board with the game plan, and large-scale operations were in the works thanks to initial testing.
However, these efforts fell flat, and chlorella took a backseat for a few decades before making a return to the public eye. But this gem is coming back, baby!
Current Status and Availability
As it turns out, producing a ton of chlorella was more difficult than scientists initially thought. Large amounts of carbon dioxide were required for industrial production, and the fact that cell walls needed to be cracked for human consumption added another element of complexity and cost.
Instead of being the answer to world hunger, it became something that hung out in the back aisles of health food stores, and thanks to improved production, it is now available at a cheaper price.
Compared to spirulina, a form of blue-green algae known for its health benefits, chlorella has not seen the same level of popularity. But this algae is making a comeback.
Now that chlorella is accessible and more research has been conducted in the past few decades, we have a better idea of what this bad boy can do for the human body.
Let’s look at the reasons why chlorella is considered a true superfood.
One look at the macronutrient composition of chlorella, and you might need to do a double-take! Chlorella is comprised of 58.4% protein, 9.3% fat, and 23.2% carbohydrate.
Compare that to any other food in your fridge or cabinet, and you can see why scientists in the mid-20th century saw so much potential for chlorella to feed the masses.
The protein is the real star of the show here, outperforming chicken, fish, and even beef by a significant margin. That’s right – you get more than twice the amount of protein per gram of chlorella than you get from steak. Take that, cows!
The quality of the protein found in chlorella is impressive, containing all nine essential amino acids, making it one of the few complete protein sources found in nature. If your summer goal is to make some gains to perfect your beach body, chlorella can help you get strong.
Vegans and vegetarians are always in search of a quality green protein source, and chlorella just might be the meat alternative that we’ve been praying for so that we can say goodbye to facon (fake bacon, for the uninitiated).
Chlorella also contains a decent amount of fiber thanks to the broken cell walls of the algae, helping you absorb nutrients more efficiently, aiding healthy digestion, and keeping you… uh, regular. With a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids in every serving, chlorella rightfully earns the superfood label.
Vitamins and Minerals
Macronutrients are helpful when designing diets and counting calories, but the showstopper benefits of chlorella go beyond protein. The food contains an abundance of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that bring it to another level of excellence.
Vitamin C, B vitamins, and potassium are found in chlorella, all of which are great for immunity, cognitive function, and a range of other important processes in the body. So like, big brain energy.
Chlorella is rich in magnesium, zinc, and calcium, which the body needs to maintain equilibrium in the nervous system, cardiovascular system, reproduction, and digestion.
With a wide range of antioxidants to fend of disease and signs of aging, chlorella can help you look better, feel better, and live an overall healthier life.
More Health Benefits
Whether you’re detoxing after a weekend of heavy partying, fighting off a cold, or simply trying to reduce blood pressure, chlorella can aid your body in a number of powerful ways.
Here are a few other health benefits you can expect when you make chlorella a part of your daily routine:
Can help rejuvenate the liver and reduce cirrhosis.
Can sharpen vision and longevity of the eyes.
Aids in cellular respiration and cardiovascular efficiency.
Blood Sugar Regulation
Improves insulin sensitivity and prevents spikes and crashes.
Reduced Oxidative Damage
Antioxidant compounds heal cells and boost youthful appearance,
Better hormone production and blood lipid levels.
Reduced Metal Toxicity
Eliminates unwanted metals from the bloodstream.
Better Brain Health
Improved memory, problem-solving, mental endurance.
More Muscle Output
More endurance and power in athletics like weightlifting, cardio, and sports.
Better breathing and more efficient absorption of oxygen to the bloodstream.
While the science is still fuzzy about some of these claims, especially having to do with diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer, we know for sure that chlorella can help boost the healthy functions of the body in a number of significant ways.
Add Chlorella to Your Diet
With few downsides and widespread accessibility, you’ve got literally nothing to lose by adding chlorella to your diet. But how? You’re not about to start eating slimy green algae on a spoon.
Capsules and Tablets
Walk into any health food store or browse the offerings online to find quality chlorella in capsule or tablet form. These will typically be small, green pills with 250mg of chlorella in each piece.
For around $30, you can get 1000 of these tablets from most retailers and eat between 10 and 20 tablets a day, depending on how much you want in your system.
Some tablets are also 50/50 chlorella and spirulina, which is a great way to get both these superfoods in one easy tablet form.
It’s always worth spending a bit extra to get top-quality supplements, so do some research and find the best option available.
Drinks and Shakes
If you’re someone who likes to make green shakes to start your day or drink (and we respect the dedication, seriously) as a meal replacement in a rush, chlorella powder is one of the best additions to your personal recipe.
The powder is not the tastiest thing in the world, but it tends to be more cost-effective than tablets, and you can always add some natural sweeteners to your shakes to mask the ick factor.
Make sure you measure the right amount of chlorella each time be consistent with your daily intake, though. We don’t want you to OD on vitamins.
Tablets and green drinks aren’t for everyone (most of us, if we’re being honest), and some of us just want to get our nutrients in a way that actually tastes good.
That’s why we added chlorella to our popular Outstanding Puffs recipe, boosting the nutrition profile and turning it into a true superfood snack anyone can enjoy.
Rather than loading up on the empty calories and unwanted additives in standard puff snacks, TakeOut gives you that killer crunch and flavor, plus all the nutrients you could want from a complete meal.
For anyone skeptical about eating chlorella straight, these puffs are definitely the way to go. Plus, you can sit down and eat the whole bag without feeling like garbage, and who doesn’t want that?
We at Outstanding Foods are all aboard the chlorella train, and we think you should hitch a ride, too. You’ll get health, nutrition, and tasty snacks—for real.