If you have taken up a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle or simply enjoy finding new, healthy foods to add to your diet, you have probably heard of this underwater algae. Chlorella has become extremely popular in the past few years among fitness enthusiasts and has been deemed worthy of superfood status. In this article, we will go over all the proven and theorized benefits of this plant.
What’s Healthy About Chlorella?
The name Chlorella comes from the Latin word chloros which means green, and ella which means small. Originating in eastern Asia this is where the majority of the world’s Chlorella comes from. By dry weight, Chlorella is almost 60% protein, which is one of the highest amounts per weight in any plant. For some, this is one of the biggest factors leading it to be a superfood. Along with this, the amount of leucine (the main muscle building amino acid) is quite high unlike other high protein plants such as soy. This means Chlorella might be of valuable use to vegan and vegetarian athletes who prioritize muscle growth and strength in their training.
Beyond its impressive protein content, chlorella also contains a good amount of healthy fats and complex carbs. The micro nutrient range is where Chlorella really shines as per 100 grams it contains 1000% of our recommended daily intake of vitamin A, 700% RDI of iron, 500% RDI of zinc, 250% RDI of riboflavin, 100% RDI of Thiamin, Niacin, vitamin B6, phosphorus, vitamin D and magnesium, as well as 50% RDI of vitamin C, E, Folate, pantothenic acid and calcium. As you can tell from that extensive list, Chlorella has as many vitamins and minerals as most fruits/vegetables and more protein than some meat sources per gram.
Besides the quantifiable macro and micro nutrient profiles of this algae, Chlorella has some other unique and surprising benefits. Unlike all those teas you might have seen on social media in the past few years, Chlorella is actually a viable way to help detox your body of toxic heavy metals. By bioaccumulating and binding to heavy metals, Chlorella can be very effective for anybody who is at risk for being exposed to a dangerous dose of mercury, arsenic, cadmium, and uranium. More specifically, the high levels of chlorophyll found in Chlorella (the ingredient that makes it green) can be used to help cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy. When radiation is used to kill cancer cells in the body it can also destroy helpful white blood cells that help our immune system function properly. It has been shown that when Chlorella supplements are given to cancer patients they have a stronger than the normal immune system and fewer instances of flu like illnesses as well as respiratory infections by absorbing a lot of the radiation.
Other smaller but still significant benefits associated with Chlorella supplementation include a decrease in fibromyalgia pain, lower blood sugar/cholesterol, and promoting a healthy gut flora. Some companies that sell Chlorella say that it can help promote weight loss in various ways but this (like all supposed weight loss cures) should be taken with a grain of salt. I’ve read claims that it can increase metabolism, regulate hormones, and even bind to fat and flush it out of the body. Unfortunately, all of these are not true and Chlorella is just as good at weight loss as any other food with the same macronutrient profile. This is because at the end of the day there is no magic food that will noticeably make you slimmer or lighter, there are only amounts of food that can do this. Eating in a calorie deficit is the only variable that matters when it comes to weight loss. Of course eating healthier, more protein rich foods will lead to more muscle retention when dieting as well as a better feeling of fullness though. In this case, Chlorella will help in part of any weight loss oriented diet to help you lose weight as it comes in the form of a micronutrient and protein dense source.Overall, I do consider Chlorella a superfood and should be added to everyone’s diet no matter what your goals are as it can help build muscle and keep you healthy the same way a multivitamin can.
How To Supplement With Chlorella
When it comes to supplementing with Chlorella it can be tricky and vary depending on why you’re taking it. If you are only trying to get your recommended daily intake of micros found in this algae, only a small amount will be needed. Only a few grams is necessary and should be taken once a day in the form of tablets or powder. On the other hand, if you are interested in the protein content of Chlorella a much larger amount will be needed depending on your protein needs. This means tablets will not be a convenient option and powder is probably your best option. Since its taste leaves much to be desired, it would probably be better taken as part of a smoothie instead of by itself in water. For those who are going through chemotherapy or would like to use Chlorella to detox their body, ask your doctor as they will know what dosage is best for you. When buying a Chlorella products is important to look for the phrase “broken wall” in the description, as this alga has an indigestible cell wall that needs to be broken to reap all the benefits.
Take Home Message
So whether you are trying to up your vegan-friendly protein content, consume most of your vitamins through a single, natural source, or detox your body of heavy metals/radiation, chlorella is the superfood for you! There is a good chance we will be seeing Chlorella explode in popularity in the next few years even more than it has already as the next big renewable and environmentally friendly food source. Since it is cheap and easy to harvest/feed (it eats sunlight after all), this single-celled plant might one day replace chicken and cow farms across the globe. Thank you for reading to the end and I hope you learned something valuable in this article today!