Nutrient - Algae - nature’s powerhouse!
For many, the word algae conjures up visions of pondweed and fish tanks, but did you know that certain types of algae can provide a multitude of beneficial nutrients for human health?
What are algae?
Latin for seaweed, the term algae refers to a diverse group of simple organisms that differ greatly in colour, size, shape and habit. Primarily aquatic, algae are elementary, primitive organisms, usually containing chlorophyll, that do not have roots, stems or leaves. Nearly all algae synthesise their own food through the process of photosynthesis, producing oxygen. There are over 10,000 species, including red, brown and green algae varieties and scientists have found algae-containing fossils dating back over two billion years.
Chlorella is a microscopic, single-celled, freshwater green alga that has been extensively researched, including by NASA as a food for astronauts in space! Chlorella is a nutritional powerhouse prized for its complete protein and B vitamin content. Additionally, it provides carbohydrates, enzymes, fibre, antioxidants, beta-carotene and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, sulphur, phosphorous and iodine. Chlorella is a rich source of lutein, which is a protective antioxidant important for the health of the eyes. With the highest chlorophyll level per gram of any plant, chlorella is also a potent cleanser of the blood and liver. Its rapid rate of reproduction is due to a complex known as chlorella growth factor (CGF). CGF is thought to stimulate tissue repair and enhance cellular energy and production of proteins and enzymes, as well as protecting cells from toxins. Chlorella’s thick and tough outer cell wall binds with heavy metals to help clear them from the body, making it a potent detoxifying agent.
Blue-green algae comprise thousands of species, including spirulina (cyanophyta). Widely researched, and found in saltwater, and some large freshwater lakes, spirulina packs a considerable nutritional punch!Very easily digested, it is a rich source of vegetarian protein (roughly 60%) and includes all the essential amino acids. Blue-green spirulina contains many beneficial pigments, such as beta-carotene, zeaxanthin and chlorophyll, as well as a highly absorbable form of iron, vitamins A, C, D and E, the essential fats and a panoply of essential minerals.
Although not an algae itself, astaxanthin is a colourful pigment found in micro-algae – Haematococcus pluvialis being the richest source. Astaxanthin has potent antioxidant properties, protecting the body against free-radical damage. Its ability to cross the blood-retinal barrier and the blood-brain barrier give it significant potential for protecting the eyes and the brain. Many times more potent than vitamin E, vitamin C, lutein and beta-carotene, astaxanthin’s benefits are extensive and include not only supporting eye and brain health, but also the heart, skin and the body’s immune response.
Algae provide a fantastic alkalising boost to your body, helping to combat over-acidity due to factors such as reliance on processed, denatured foods, excessive animal protein, sugar, smoking, alcohol and a stressful lifestyle. Incorporating more alkaline-forming foods into the diet, principally vegetables, sprouts and seeds, and topping up with an algae supplement helps to redress the balance, energising both body and brain and restoring your joie de vivre!