What is Chlorella?
Chlorella is a single-celled, freshwater algae, native to Taiwan and Japan, that is naturally rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. Its reported benefits include boosting antibody count, promoting weight-loss, and fighting cancer and other diseases.
So why might Chlorella be given superfood status? Food Science notes it provides many of the most important nutrients, including the antioxidants lutein and beta-carotene, enzymes, amino acids, proteins, minerals, fiber and vitamins C and E. But perhaps it’s what those nutrients do for you that ushers Chlorella into the annals of healthier-than-the-average, nutrient-dense foods.
A type of green algae with more chlorophyll than any other plant. Chlorella also helps clean your blood, protect your liver, cleanse your intestines and improve your digestive system due to presence of such digestive enzymes as chlorophyllase and pepsin.
According to Medical News Today, one little-known advantage is that the protein in Chlorella can be absorbed quite well, making it an excellent protein source for vegans.
Benefits of Chlorella for your body -
- Help boost your immunity, especially in healthy people, and have “a positive effect on immunity-related cell activity.” Because it contains anti-inflammatory properties, it can help your body resist infection.
In fact, studies have shown that it reduced cancer cells in animal studies, and may even kill cancer cells that already exist in a process known as apoptosis or programmed cell death.
- Binds to heavy metals, Aiding Detox - Chlorella has gotten some buzz for its ability to help the body "detox." Studies indicate that it's effective at helping remove heavy metals and other harmful compounds from the body. Heavy metals like cadmium and lead can be toxic in larger amounts. Chlorella has been found to weaken the heavy metal toxicity of the liver, brain and kidneys - Furthermore, chlorella has been shown to help lower the amount of other harmful chemicals that are sometimes found in food. One of these is dioxin, a hormone disruptor that can contaminate animals in the food supply
- Increase energy; one case in point is a study that showed how Chlorella decreased fatigue in breast cancer patients (as well as improving skin health). Another study indicated that effects of Chlorella included “increased vitality and decreased levels of fatigue.
- Boost your metabolism, which can help your body resist weight gain via complete nourishment. Your body may help you feel satisfied after meals and keep cravings at bay. In addition, participants in one study revealed a reduction in the percentage of body fat. Another study found it may also inhibit the growth of fat cells to help fight obesity.
- Along the same lines, Chlorella may also help manage blood sugar levels, as a 2013 study also found that ingesting it prevented fat cell growth and blood fat levels, which improved glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity.
- Improves brain function, because Chlorella contains vitamin B12 and is in fact one of the few plant-based sources. This not only may prevent the oxidative stress that can bring about age-related cognitive decline, but may also reduce memory loss, another study indicated.
Nutrients in Chlorella -
Chlorella's impressive nutritional profile has led some to call it a "super food." While its exact nutrient content depends on growing conditions, the species used and how supplements are processed, it's clear it packs several beneficial nutrients.
Protein: Chlorella is 50–60% protein. What's more, it's a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
Vitamin B12: Some Chlorella varieties may also contain vitamin B12, but more studies are needed.
Iron and vitamin C: Chlorella can be a good source of iron. Depending on the supplement, it may provide anywhere from 6–40% of your daily need. It's also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron.
Other antioxidants: These tiny green cells provide a wide range of antioxidants.
Other vitamins and minerals: Chlorella provides small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid and other B vitamins.
Omega-3s: As with other algaee, Chlorella contains some omega-3s. Just 3 grams of Chlorella delivers 100 mg of omega-3s.
Fiber: In large quantities, Chlorella can be a good source of fiber. However, most supplements don't provide even 1 gram of fiber per dose.
Risks and side effects
People should be aware that every superfood could have a few potential risks and side effects associated with it. Unfortunately, Chlorella is no different in this respect.
- Possible side effects: Some people have experienced nausea and abdominal discomfort.
- Immune effects: Since Chlorella affects the immune system, it may not be appropriate for people with immunodeficiency or on immune system medications.
Furthermore, it's important to keep in mind that dietary supplements may interact with some medications.
While Chlorella is generally recognized as safe and few side effects have been reported, it might not be appropriate for everyone.
The Bottom Line
Chlorella is a type of algaee that packs a big nutrient punch, as it's a good source of several vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
In fact, emerging research shows that it could help shuttle toxins out of your body and improve cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other health benefits.
- Written by Sonam Kocher