The Food of the Future
Spirulina is a blue-green algae named after its spiral shape. It has been used for centuries as food for people and animals all through the world and its popularity has grown year over year, especially in the United States.
With its unique qualities, different types of algae have been used in a variety of ways. Some have used algae for biofuels, medicine, and water purification. As more research continues, many are finding unique applications of algae, such as bio-fabrics and bio-plastics.
Spirulina, specifically, is one of the most efficient and eco-friendly resources due to its minimal energy usage. It takes in 20 times more carbon dioxide than trees and is responsible for removing most of the carbon in the atmosphere.
more iron than spinach.
more protein than beef.
Though spirulina can be used in many ways, we primarily focus on its high nutritional value.
Spirulina is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet containing proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients to name a few.
Protein and Amino Acids
- It contains 65-75% protein, and
- All 9 essential amino acids, which makes spirulina one of few complete plant proteins.
- By comparison to other meats and their protein percentage, chicken has ~25%, beef has ~22% and tofu has ~10%.
Spirulina has more than double the amount of protein in chicken and almost triple that of beef.
Vitamins and Minerals
Spirulina contains 13 vitamins and 8 minerals, which is more than some fruits and vegetables.
Not all of spirulina’s vitamins are of equal value but the most abundant are:
- Beta-carotene (A),
- Thiamine (B1),
- Riboflavin (B2),
- Niacin (B3),
- Pantothenic acid (B5),
- Folate (B9),
- Vitamin E, and
- Vitamin K.
The least abundant are:
- Vitamin B12,
- Vitamin C, and
- Vitamin D.
Spirulina’s list of minerals include:
- Sodium, and
- The most abundant is Iron — a mineral that many vegans and vegetarians may find to lack in their diet.
- This unique algae also contains high amounts of Antioxidants, which help fight against damage to cells.
- Its prebiotic property, (not to be confused with probiotics), helps the gut by promoting the growth of beneficial organisms in the intestines.
- Due to its photosynthetic quality, spirulina contains phyto-pigments, such as chlorophyll, phycocyanin and carotenoids.
Aside from its nutritional qualities, spirulina is conservative in what it uses to grow, using only sunlight, water and a few simple salts. The mass of spirulina doubles daily in optimal setting, making it the most efficient and sustainable food on the planet.
In addition, after harvesting, a small amount of spirulina left in a tank can reproduce to the same amount of what it was pre-harvest within 2-3 weeks. As long as salts are replenished and its environment is regulated, spirulina can be infinite with no limit to its growth.
Nutrition Facts based on 20 grams of dried spirulina
Where It’s Found
Almost 800 years ago, it was consumed by the Aztecs during times of famine. Over the past few decades, it has been farmed by the Kanembu tribe of Chad in central Africa. Their consumption of spirulina led them to be one of few communities in their region with minimal nutritional deficiencies. Countries throughout Asia have also used spirulina and other algae, making it a multi-billion dollar industry.
Due to its minimal needs for growth and high nutritonal value, NASA investigated spirulina as a food source for their astronauts.