Though the word itself conjures up the mental image of crystal-wielding extraterrestrials or an experimental Belgian rock band, the reality of spirulina is actually far cooler than either.
Many people who follow a vegan (or vegetarian) diet are likely familiar with this little gem, but for those of you who aren’t, we highly recommend that you delve into it yourself. In fact, we’re going to tell you a bit about it right now to pique your interest and maybe blow your mind at how awesome a little green vegetable microorganism can really be.
The literal translation of its name means “little spring”, in reference to its shape: this tiny blue-green micro-algae grows in little coiled strands, and is common in tropical lakes and shallow ponds. It was a major food source for the ancient Maya and Aztec peoples of South America, and the Kanembu people of Chad cultivate it as a dietary mainstay right to this day.
One of the world’s most nutritious and beneficial “superfoods”, spirulina is an ideal food source for human consumption. This brief quote from the book Supreme Green Medicine by Harald W. Tietze speaks volumes about the benefits of consuming spirulina:
“…containing an almost perfect balance of protein, including essential amino acids, it is easily digested, quickly assimilated, and satisfies hunger quickly. Far less bulk is needed than any other food, and it is naturally low in cholesterol, calories, fat and sodium.”
It is cited as being the most nutrient-rich of all known living foods, and may very well be one of the original producers of oxygen on this planet.
Why is it good for vegans?
Spirulina is comprised of between 60-70% protein, which is higher than pretty much any other food out there. It’s also a complete protein, that has all the essential amino acids required for ultimate health. It’s a type of kelp, so it’s 100% vegan, and is extremely low in fat.
Vegans often turn to tofu, quinoa, legumes (such as beans and lentils), wheat gluten protein (aka seitan) and the like when looking to get their protein. Spirulina adds an incredible boost of protein to one’s diet as a supplement to these foods, and for people with gluten or soy intolerance, it’s an excellent alternative to the usual suspects.
In addition to being a fantastic protein source, spirulina is packed with iron and is said to increases energy and lower cholesterol.
The bottom line: this is a superfood that’s worth trying. With its numerous health benefits for both humans and the planet as a whole, this little blue-green algae is more of a miracle than a supplement. Consider adding a spoonful of spirulina powder to your next super-smoothie, and let the nutrition seep into every cell.
Do you have a favorite green smoothie recipe? Feel free to share it with us!