Chlorella: What's the Big Deal About This Little Algae?

 

By Ariane Resnick, CNC

What Chlorella Is

A blue-green algae native to Asia, chlorella has received less attention than its green algae cousin, spirulina. While the two have similarities, chlorella easier for the body to digest and use. A fresh-water, single-celled organism, chlorella is thought to be one of the oldest forms of algae on the planet.

What Chlorella Does

Full of vitamins, minerals and proteins, and in addition to all nine essential amino acids, chlorella has been studied for an assortment of uses and been proven potentially effective in assisting with a range of health issues. Some clinical trials have determined that chlorella may be able to:

  • Reduce fibromyalgia pain
  • Accelerate wound healing
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Enhance immune function
  • Relieve ulcerative colitis
  • Reduce hypertension (lower blood pressure)

For these uses, it is not yet known if the effects can continue after a person stops taking chlorella. However, when it comes to chlorella's ability to help with fat metabolism and insulin levels, one study showed that genes continued to behave differently even after usage was discontinued. This means that there is potential for chlorella to help with those issues long term, even if you don't take it indefinitely.

More research is needed in regards to chlorella as a tool for chelation, a term referring to the removal of heavy metals from the body. Chlorella may help to detoxify our systems from mercury and other heavy metals because of its ability to bind to them; a study showed significant reduction of mercury from brains and kidneys, but less so from livers. That sure would make eating sushi a less stressful experience!  

Importance as a Food Source

As the world population grows, it becomes progressively harder to feed everyone. Raising animals and growing crops  consume an enormous amount of space and water. Alternative food sources like algae offer a way to feed people nutrient-dense food that can be grown in a much smaller amount of space. More work needs to be done to optimize production of chlorella as a food source, but thankfully, there is progressively more conversation about cultivating microlagaes such as chlorella.

Being a single-celled organism, chlorella can replicate itself quickly and without many resources, even in areas that aren't suitable for agriculture. It can also be used to remove the toxins from waste water, helping to conserve a vital resource needed to grow other foods.

How Do I Use Chlorella?

If you buy chlorella in tablet or capsule form, all you need to do is swallow them. Many people prefer to purchase chlorella as a powder so that it can be added directly into food. The advantage of using it as a powder is simply that you can consume more of it more easily! As high in chlorophyll as a food can get, chlorella will turn food a rich, deep shade of green. You can add it to smoothies, sprinkle it over salads, make energy balls or “bliss balls” with it, add it to soup, sprinkle it over cooked vegetables or mix it into a dressing or sauce.

Chlorella may also have the potential to improve collagen production in our skin, and is beginning to appear in beauty products. If you'd like to test its anti-aging effects, you can add it to a DIY face mask.

The Taste Factor

Chlorella has a surprisingly pleasant and savory flavor. It actually takes more work to get used to its forest color than it does its taste! The taste is vegetal, like a green juice. Some people even consider it to have a mild cheese flavor as well.

There are so many benefits to giving chlorella a try, it's difficult to find a reason why you shouldn't!

Ariane Resnick is a special diet chef, certified nutritionist and bestselling author. She has been featured in media such as Forbes, CBS’ “The Doctors,” and Huffington Post. Her private clientele includes celebrities such as P!nk. Ariane has two books published,the first of which, The Bone Broth Miracle, reached the #1 ranked cookbook on Amazon on multiple occasions. She also has two books forthcoming in 2019.


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