Foundation Diet and Health
Diet and Health
QR Code
The best perspective for your health
This page was translated through Google Translator

Spirulina (never raw!, organic?)

The cyanobacteria Spirulina (powder etc.) can practically never be bought raw. Because of their blue pigment, they were previously classified as blue-green alga

Many people believe that this product is a raw food because it appears to be in its natural state. However, in the majority of cases it isn’t raw! This is usually because the production process requires heat, and other alternative processes would involve much more time and money, as is the case here - or it has to be pasteurized. At least one of these reasons applies here.

If a product is labeled as raw, before it is sold it still may be mixed with other products that have undergone cheaper processes. Depending on the product, you may not be able to distinguish any differences when it comes to appearance or taste.

By the way, raw foodists should also understand that there are foods that are raw but that as such contain toxins — or that can only be eaten raw in small quantities. These are indicated with a different symbol.

Macronutrient carbohydrates 26.83%
Macronutrient proteins 64.51%
Macronutrient fats 8.67%

The three ratios show the percentage by weight of macronutrients (carbohydrates / proteins / fats) of the dry matter (excl. water).

Ω-6 (LA, 1.3g)
Omega-6 fatty acid such as linoleic acid (LA)
 : Ω-3 (ALA, 0.8g)
Omega-3 fatty acid such as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
 = 2:1

Omega-6 ratio to omega-3 fatty acids should not exceed a total of 5:1. Link to explanation.

Here, essential linolenic acid (LA) 1.25 g to essential alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) 0.82 g = 1.52:1.
Ratio Total omega-6 = 1.25 g to omega-3 fatty acids Total = 0.82 g = 1.52:1.
On average, we need about 2 g of LA and ALA per day from which a healthy body also produces EPA and DHA, etc.

In contrast to the microalgae Chlorella, Spirulina ( Arthrospira ) is not a true algae (see "General Information"). Spirulina is available from conventional and organic aquaculture and is heated, so it is practically never available raw .

Using spirulina in the kitchen:

In small quantities, spirulina powder, sticks or flakes are suitable for many recipes. Although spirulina is rich in nutrients and proteins, the highly processed and small-dose dietary supplement plays a minor role in meeting daily requirements. If you are still concerned about preserving the ingredients, you should not heat spirulina to high temperatures.

Spirulina powder, with its striking, intense green color, works very well as a natural colorant in preparations. Ingredients such as spirulina or chlorella can be used interchangeably in recipes.

Spirulina powder has a relatively neutral to slightly fishy taste. Recipes with spirulina (spirulina recipes or spirulina powder recipes) can include drinks such as smoothies, shakes or tea as well as overnight oats, muesli, crackers , chia pudding, soups, guacamole, desserts, creams or sauces. The powder is also suitable for coloring doughs and mixtures for bread, cakes, muffins, gnocchi, pancakes or spaetzle. Spirulina granules, sticks or spirulina flakes (alternatively: crushed tablets) can be eaten as a topping on salads, sandwiches, cakes, raw vegetables and the like.

Vegan recipe for cucumber spaghetti with spirulina:

Ingredients (for two people): 1 cucumber , raw; 1 heaped teaspoon spirulina powder; 3 tablespoons freshly ground linseed (e.g. in an electric coffee grinder); 1 teaspoon rapeseed oil , cold-pressed; 4 g dulse flakes , dried.

Preparation: Use a spiral cutter to cut the cucumber into spaghetti-like, raw noodles and mix them with the spirulina powder, the crushed linseed and the rapeseed oil. Finally, sprinkle the naturally slightly salty dulse flakes over the raw and vegan vegetable spaghetti.

Note: Since spirulina is heated during production, the cucumber dish is strictly speaking no longer raw food.

Vegan spirulina recipes can be found under the note: " Recipes that have the most of this ingredient ".

Not only vegans or vegetarians should read this:
Vegans often eat unhealthily. Avoidable nutritional mistakes

Shopping - where

to buy spirulina? Where can you buy spirulina? Spirulina can be bought as tablets, pellets, powder, sticks (sequins) or flakes. Spirulina is available in conventional and organic quality as a food supplement from supermarket chains such as Coop , Migros , Rewe , Aldi , Lidl or Hofer as well as in organic shops, health food stores and online. We have not yet found any spirulina in supermarkets such as Edeka , Volg or Spar or in organic supermarkets such as Alnatura or Denn's . Manufacturers use spirulina as an ingredient in foods such as pasta, fruit bars, drink powder, etc. Season: Dried spirulina or products containing spirulina can be bought all year round.

Spirulina has not previously been available in raw quality or raw food quality. Due to the manufacturing process, spirulina often undergoes heat processes of more than 42 °C and is therefore heated. Recently, sales websites have been advertising alleged raw food quality and gentle drying at less than 42 °C, but we have not yet found any concrete evidence of this.

Spirulina products may be contaminated with heavy metals, PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) and toxins. Therefore, you should prefer residue-controlled and organically certified products from closed systems (aquaculture). Organic products with the Naturland label, e.g. spirulina powder, are characterized by high and controlled organic quality. 1

Manufacturers confusingly advertise spirulina products as an "unparalleled source of energy" (protein content) with "considerable vitamin and mineral content", "lots of vitamin B 12 - important for vegetarians" or "three times more chlorophyll than wheatgrass, passes stored solar energy on to humans" as well as "the most valuable food on the planet". 1

However, with the highest recommended daily dose, the amount of nutrients consumed is so small that the additional intake, e.g. of amino acids/protein, is barely noticeable. Chlorophyll can be obtained from any food containing green plant parts, e.g. nettles , parsley , spinach , broccoli , green beans . According to the Health Claims Regulation, Spirulina capsules may no longer be advertised as a way to lower blood sugar levels. The advertising of the predominantly analogue vitamin B 12 (pseudo-vitamin B 12 ) is also considered misleading if it promises disease-relieving effects. 2,3,4 The advertising of "Spirulina - rich in vitamin B 12 " has now been prohibited in Germany by the Berlin Higher Regional Court in a ruling dated January 28, 2011 (5 U 133/09) . 9

Storing Spirulina:

Spirulina should be stored protected from atmospheric oxygen, moisture and light. Sealable containers such as cans or jars are suitable.

Spirulina ingredients - nutritional values - calories:

Spirulina powder and spirulina preparations have nutritional values of 290 kcal/100g. The main nutrients per 100g are 7.7g fats, 24g carbohydrates and 57g proteins. When spirulina is heated, the heat-sensitive spirulina ingredients suffer.

100 g of spirulina per day would theoretically cover more than the daily requirement of protein, as well as the daily nutrient requirement of copper , iodine (iodine) , riboflavin (vitamin B 2 ) , iron , thiamine (vitamin B 1 ) and sodium . 5,6 How much spirulina per day? Manufacturers recommend an intake of four grams or six to ten tablets or two teaspoons of powder per day. This means that the actual nutrient coverage is low.

You don't have to resort to expensive nutritional supplements to cover your daily protein needs. Whole grains such as oatmeal (13 g/100g) and pulses such as cooked lentils (9 g/100g), cooked chickpeas (9 g/100g) or cooked kidney beans (8.7 g) are rich in protein. Especially when combined with grains and pulses, plant-based foods contain protein with a high biological value. 5,6

Since spirulina grows in mineral-rich freshwater and in salt lakes, the iodine content is low compared to seaweed. Four grams of spirulina contain 18.24 µg of iodine . Which algae contain a lot of iodine? The edible algae that are particularly rich in iodine include bladder wrack (300,000 µg/100g), laminaria (kelp, kelp forests) with 300,000 µg/100g, kombu algae (200,000 µg/100g) and arame algae (70,000 µg/100g). Wakame (4,200 µg/100g) and nori (3,215 µg/100g) contain slightly less iodine than the dried red algae species dulse (7,500 µg/100g). 6,7 However, the natural iodine content of algae can vary greatly.

The vitamin B 12 contained in spirulina is mainly found in its analogue form, which the human body cannot use. Pseudo-vitamin B 12 (analogue/analogues) in food should be avoided, as it blocks the receptors for the usable vitamin B 12 form (cobalamin). 29 Most edible blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are not suitable for use as a source of vitamin B12 . 1,8,9,22,23,24 According to current knowledge (2019), a sufficient supply of vitamin B12 in a vegan diet is only possible by taking a supplement. 9

Which is better, chlorella or spirulina? Chlorella is also very rich in nutrients and has a high protein content of 51-58% with a biological value of 53-77%. Due to the small amount of raw materials contained in a tablet, the highly praised levels of vitamins, minerals, proteins and chlorophyll in chlorella are also negligible. 20

The complete ingredients of Spirulina, the coverage of the daily requirement and comparison values with other ingredients can be found in our nutrient tables in CLICK FOR below the ingredients picture.

Health aspects - effects:

Is spirulina really that healthy? Spirulina is said to have positive effects on health. Some researchers give the impression in their studies that spirulina helps with asthma, allergic rhinitis, chronic joint pain or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 10 Can you lose weight with spirulina? Other claims include performance-enhancing effects and that spirulina is said to help with weight loss 11,12 and diabetes 13,14,15 , improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. 13

However, the clinical studies on humans (some of them randomized and controlled) on spirulina have been poorly conducted. In some cases, a large amount of data is missing to verify and understand the accuracy of the results. These studies are therefore not sufficiently conclusive to prove or disprove the claims made. 10,11,12,13,14,15

Numerous scientific studies on the possible effects of spirulina were carried out on laboratory animals or in test tubes. Since the active ingredients behave differently in these animals than in the human body, such studies do not allow any conclusions to be drawn about their effects on humans. 10

What are spirulina and chlorella good for? Microalgae (eg chlorella, but NOT spirulina) synthesize active forms of omega-3 fatty acids . These include the two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) , which are essential for the human diet. In order to benefit from these essential fatty acids, e.g. if there is an increased need during pregnancy and breastfeeding or as you get older, you should use carefully produced microalgae oils and not tablets or powders. 20,21 We believe that calling dry preparations made from spirulina and chlorella superfoods is exaggerated and misleading.

Dangers - Intolerances - Side effects:

Who should not take Spirulina? Spirulina is not suitable for people who suffer from phenylketonuria. The phenylalanine it contains can worsen the condition. 1

Possible side effects from taking spirulina can be allergic reactions and the binding of iron. If consumed more frequently, iron deficiency can occur. 1

How dangerous is spirulina? Products from Asia have repeatedly been found to be subject to illegal radioactive irradiation. Laboratory samples have been found to contain extremely high levels of unhealthy heavy metals (cadmium). 1,16 Spirulina and chlorella have the ability to absorb toxic substances and heavy metals from the environment during their growth. Untested products may make consumption questionable. 1,17,20

Folk medicine - natural healing:

Spirulina plays a minor role in alternative medicine. Self-users see Spirulina preparations as a (more than dubious) panacea that is supposed to be suitable for detoxifying heavy metals. On the Internet you can find a variety of alleged areas of application, e.g. fibromyalgia, increased blood lipid levels, cancer prevention, HIV and herpes infections, weakened immune systems, allergies, liver damage, obesity, etc. We distance ourselves from such promises due to the lack of scientific data.

Occurrence - origin - ecology:

In nature, Spirulina cyanobacteria (correctly Arthrospira spp., see "General information") occur in strongly alkaline salt lakes (pH value between nine and eleven), but also in fresh water. Spirulina, formerly known as blue-green algae, inhabits shallow, subtropical to tropical waters with a high salt content, especially in Central America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Australia.

Cultivation - harvesting of spirulina:

The biomass for spirulina food supplements comes from closed systems (aquaculture), e.g. from greenhouses with glass tube systems. Wild catches are generally not used due to the usually very high heavy metal contamination. At 35 to 37 °C, the cyanobacteria grow with the addition of oxygen (oxygenic photosynthesis) and carbon dioxide, which is added to the water in compressed air bottles. The majority of spirulina water farms are in Hawaii and California, as these regions are very sunny all year round. 17 Other production countries are Thailand, India, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Myanmar, Greece and Chile. The fully grown cyanobacteria cultures can be harvested continuously.

Every year, nutritional supplements (NEM) made from around 3,000 tons of cyanobacterial raw material find their way to the end consumer. 18 To promote the cultivation of spirulina, the United Nations ( UN ) founded the organization IIMSAM . What is spirulina good for? Spirulina is used to combat hunger and malnutrition in third world countries. 19

Ecological aspects:

What is organic spirulina? Spirulina can be grown in organic aquaculture (ecological aquaculture) . Since the EU organic regulation does not contain detailed production regulations for cyanobacteria and microalgae, the organic association Naturland developed further guidelines for the controlled organic aquaculture of microalgae. These also apply to organic spirulina with the recognized Naturland organic label.

Industrial production of spirulina:

The fully grown cyanobacteria are harvested by pressing the biomass through a filter or a continuous centrifuge and then drying it with hot air (spray drying, not raw). 17 Freeze drying or the Ocean-Chill TM drying method are alternatives to hot air. 1,28 Innovative spirulina farms are now supposedly able to produce raw quality spirulina - we have only heard of this as claims so far. The further processing of spirulina produces tablets (pressed pellets), capsules, sticks (sequins), flakes or powder.

General information:

The spirulina discussed here (actually with the correct genus name Arthrospira 25 ) is a genus of cyanobacteria. Spirulina spp. was previously classified as Phycophyta (algae) and was listed in the class Cyanophyceae (blue-green algae). Recent research shows not only that they are cyanobacteria, but also that Spirulina and Arthrospira are separate genera. 27 The name Spirulina for the commercially available dried food supplements mainly refers to the bacterial species Arthrospira platensis and has remained as a product name despite the new findings. 26 In the literature, the two genera are often not clearly distinguished and their names can appear to be synonyms, which leads to confusion.

Depending on the classification, there are up to 35 different types of Spirulina or Arthrospira (e.g. Arthrospira platensis , Arthrospira fusiformis , Arthrospira maxima , etc.). It is unclear whether these are actually different types ( Spirulina spp. or Arthrospira spp.), as the bacteria change their shape depending on environmental conditions (nutrient content and pH value of the water, temperature).

Some cyanobacteria contain blue phycocyanin, among other photosynthetic pigments. This is why they are blue-green in color.

Alternative names:

Alternative names for spirulina are arthrospira or cyanobacteria (cyanobacteria, cyanobacterium, cyanobacteria). In German, spirulina is colloquially known as microalgae or blue-green algae (blue-green algae) and in English as spirulina or arthrospira .

Keywords for use:

Spirulina can be a component of fish feed (eg spirulina sticks) and cat food. The so-called blue-green algae are also used in biotechnology and bioengineering, including as a biocatalyst in fermentation processes and for energy production.

Literature - Sources:

Authors: |