Why Your Body Will Thank You For Eating Algae + Raw Spirulina Protein Balls October 12 2013 by Simone Denny
What is Algae?
Algae is Latin the word for ‘seaweed’ and refers to a simple plants that live in the water (either sea water or fresh water). Unlike plants living on land they lack characteristics such as leaves, roots and other organs. Algae can range from mcroscopic in size (these are referred to as micro algae) to giant kelp, which can grow up to 65 metres in length. Blue Green Algae, although called algae are actually a bacteria often referred to as cyanobacteria
Algae grow through photosynthesis and are very efficient at this process. They utilise light energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air, and hydrogen from water to synthesise proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.
Algae were the first plant life to appear on earth 2 billion years ago and it is said that it is algae that is responsible for the oxygen on the earth today. Throughout the first and second world wars extensive research was carried out by German scientists (Lindner and later Hardner) on how to harvest and cultivate Algae (particularly chlorella). It was known that algae has an extremely high concentration of protein (60%) and this was seen as a solution to ward off mass starvation at that time. It wasn't until the 1970's that Japanese scientists finally found a solution on how to harvest a digestible form algae (chlorella) for human consumption. Today chlorella is one of the mostly widely used supplements in Japan.
Nutritional Benefits of Algae Types
AFA, a type of blue green algae, is deemed a superfood due to its extremely high nutritional value. AFA (Aphanizomenon Flos-Aquae, Latin for "invisible flower of the water) is grown in fresh water lakes and is said to have one of the highest levels of protein and more bio-available chlorophyll than all other foods. Furthermore, AFA provides over 64 easily absorbed vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and enzymes.
AFA is a wonderful alkaliser largely due to its high chlorophyll content. It is renowned for being a powerful brain food - aiding memory and cognitive function. This brain food status is largely due to AFA being rich in neuropeptides that strengthen neurotransmitters. AFA is said to increase endurance, energy and stamina and speed up recovery time. AFA may also help normalize blood sugar levels, reduce stress and improve immunity.
It is very important to choose high quality AFA products that are well harvested. We recommend two brands of AFA, the first is E3AFA Powdered Flake or Capsules and the second is Loving Earth AFA. Both of these are harvested in the centre of Upper Klamath Lake Oregon USA. These blue-green algae are harvested below the surface of the lake, where it is less likely to have been damaged by the sun.
Spirulina is blue green micro-algae grown in fresh water. It known for its very high levels of vegetarian protein and for its complete protein properties - meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids. It is said to contain one of the richest concentrations of nutrients of all foods. Spirulina has high levels of vitamin B-12. 200 mcg of B-12 for every 100 g of the algae. It is unusual to find B-12 in a plant form.
Spirulina is a good source of vegetarian iron and it can help boost immunity with all of the phyotonutrients it contains. Recent research by the Institute of Human Performance and Rehabilitation in Greece, found that supplementing the diet with Spirulina improved running capacity by 30% thus extending the time to exhaustion significantly. Spirulina is also recommended for pregnancy and breastfeeding due to its nutrient dense profile plus iron content.
We recommend New Zealand Certified Organic LifeStream Spirulina Powder or Lifestream Bioactive Capsules - this brand is very committed to quality processing and manufacturing of spirulina.
Kelp is a very sustainable algae/seaweed, largely due to its very rapid speed of growth. Sea kelp has been eaten and used medicinally for hundreds of years, particularly in the East.
Kelp is has an excellent nutritional profile and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It has a particularly good source of B vitamins as well as C and E, which are excellent antioxidants. Kelp is also rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium and iron. Kelp is high in Chlorophyll, making it an alkaline rich food.
Kelp is particularly well known for its rich source of iodine, which extremely important for thyroid health. Iodine is essential in regulating thyroid hormones and therefore the metabolism and energy levels.
For something different try Kelp Noodles - a nutritious gluten free option.
Taking high doses of kelp supplementation is not recommended. This is largely due to its high level of iodine, which if taken in large doses can have a negative impact on the thyroid. The FDA recommends iodine dosage for adults should be between 150 - 200 micrograms per day (pregnant women are at the higher end of this scale).
Chlorella is a microscopic algae and is well known for its detoxification benefits. Like the other algae’s it is high in chlorophyll, protein and is a very nutrient dense food. It is one of the most widely studied foods in the world.
In Japan Chlorella supplements are consumed more frequently than vitamin C is consumed in the West. More than 10 million Japanese consume Chlorella on a regular basis. The Japanese were early adopters of the algae and are very aware of the detoxification benefits of Chlorella. Chlorella’s molecular structure enables it to bind heavy metals, toxins and pesticides and eliminate them effectively from the body.
It is important to choose your Chlorella supplement well. Chlorella's tough outer cell wall cannot be broken down in the human body. Therefore, it is important that the manufacturing process breaks or ‘cracks’ the cell wall for you, this enables superior digestibility and absorption. We recommend Synergy Organic Chlorella Powder, which uses the cracked cell wall process or Yaeyama Pacifica if you prefer the tablet form. If you are looking for an all round superfood blend with high quality Chlorella and Spirulina, we recommend Alchemy SUPERGREENS.
These Raw Spirulina Protein Balls are very tasty and are high in protein due to the nuts, seeds, spirulina and natural protein powder. Great to eat prior to workouts, for busy people on the run or pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Last Nourishing Hub Blog: What is Anxiety and How can we Manage it by Richard Ede
Last Nourishing Hub Interview: Debbie Spellman from Detox your Mind
Have a wonderful weekend!
Simone @ the Nourishing Hub