Good morning everyone! So let me first just say- My husband and I are like big kids. You tell us we can have our yogurt blue WITH added health benefits and you’ve already got us sold! As we type, we are both sipping on our morning matcha concoction (under recipes) and having our yogurt parfait- both of which, contain none other than…SPIRULINA! Really excited to share some information with you guys about why we’re sneaking it in whenever and wherever we can. If you follow me on instagram, doctormeetsdietitian, you saw me post earlier this week on the Spirulina Bowl and you may have also seen my green pancakes that I make sometimes for Patrick and myself. We could just have our yogurt/pancakes/tea plain OR we could have it blue/green with some wonderful added health benefits. I pick BLUE (and green)!
From the Dietitian: First of all what is Spirulina? Spirulina is a blue green algae that grows in both fresh and salt water. When you buy it, it comes in powder form. But boy is it loaded with nutrients! Fun fact- Because you can grow it in space, NASA uses it, so astronauts can reap the health benefits. Smart cookies that they are. Going back even further, the Aztecs used it back in the day too!
A tablespoon of Spirulina contains: 4 grams of quality protein (better than beans but not as complete as eggs/dairy), 11% of the RDA for Thiamine, 15% of the RDA for Riboflavin, 4% of the RDA for Niacin, 21% of the RDA for Copper, 11% of the RDA for Iron and wide variety of minerals including potassium and magnesium. Spirulina also contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. A lot of people will say “gram for gram” it’s one of the most nutritious foods naturally found on our little planet.
From the Doctor: While we do not believe in a majority of (fad) diets, an anti-inflammatory diet is one that, in our opinion, has the best benefits for health/longevity. Spirulina has both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. In our matcha post, we went over the benefits of antioxidants. Spirulina contains Phycocyanin. This is what, not only gives it it’s blue/green color, but it is also what fights free radicals in the body. Phycocyanin is a very powerful anti-inflammatory agent. By protecting against oxidative damage, you are in turn, contributing to the decreased risk of cancer and other diseases.
Spirulina & Cholesterol: A study completed showed that when patients with high cholesterol added 1 gram of Spirulina to their day it decreased their triglycerides by 16.3% and LDL by 10.1%.
Spirulina & Cancer: Studies have been done linking Spirulina to anti-cancer properties- more specifically oral cancer. The study looked at 85 people from India with precancerous lesions (OSMF) in their mouth. After adding 1 gram of Spirulina to their diet for a year, 45% had regression of lesions (compared to 7% in the control group). There was another study completed comparing Spirulina to the drug typically used to combat symptoms from these precancerous mouth lesions and including 1 gram of Spirulina led to greater improvement than the drug Pentoxyfilline.
Spirulina & Blood Pressure: By consuming Spirulina, you are in turn, increasing your nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that helps the blood vessels relax and dilate. Further studies need to be completed; however, one study showed that higher intake of Spirulina daily (4-5 grams) can significantly lower BP.
Allergies & Spirulina: If you suffer from allergies, it can be pretty horrible. There has been suffice evidence showing that Spirulina is an acceptable alternative treatment for symptoms of allergic rhinitis. This is because Spirulina stops the release of histamine in the body. Histamine is what contributes to allergy symptoms. In a study where people consumed 2 grams of Spirulina a day, it dramatically decreased congestion, runny nose, itching, sneezing, etc.
Type 2 Diabetes & Spirulina: Animal studies have been completed comparing Spirulina to the popular diabetes drug, Metformin. More studies need to be conducted and currently the evidence is non conclusive. Therefore, DO NOT get off your diabetes medication and start taking Spirulina; however, adding it to your regular regimen (prescribed by your doctor) could be beneficial along with diet and exercise to possibly decrease insulin injection dependence. In the study, where patients were taking 2 grams of Spirulina a day, their Hba1c dropped by 1% – this is significant as studies show that a 1% decrease in Hba1c, can lower the risk of diabetes related death by 21%.
Links on DM and Spirulina:
Back to the dietitian: So now that we got you all excited to use Spirulina. These are the kinds we use (Link Below). Typically we add the green to pancakes/tea and the blue to yogurt/smoothies/ice cream. You definitely do not have to buy both!
You can mix it up with chia seeds, almonds, berries, granola and all kinds of goodies and it is SO delicious and super fun for kids too. Moms are always on the prowl for an easy way to sneak in nutrients for kids- and in our opinion, this is a great way because it’s fun and colorful too.
A lot of people ask if you can taste it and in yogurt you really can’t (especially as a parfait). In the Morning Matcha Concoction and pancakes you can taste it a little bit more. It adds a delicious, light earthy flavor. If you are adding to a cup of yogurt – I would start with 1/4 tsp and increase to 1/2 tsp based on preference. Pancake recipe coming soon (perfecting it for you all)!
Enjoy Everyone! Have a wonderful weekend and feel free to send us a message with any questions you might have!