Chlorella, one of nature’s super-food that has earned a substantial amount of attention from the science community in the past few decades
Chlorella is a single-celled, freshwater alga, 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.
There are various strains of chlorella. Each type has a different layout of nutritional qualities. Those most commonly sold as food supplements are believed to have the highest nutritional value. Chlorella can be found in various forms, such as tablets, powder, or liquid extracts.
Chlorella‘s tough cell wall makes it rigid and impossible to digest in its natural form. It is processed before being sold so its nutrients can be properly digested and absorbed by the body.
A major advantage of Chlorella over many other foods, is that it grows very quickly. Researchers have also looked at it as a possible alternative and renewable fuel source for agricultural equipment.
A 2009 study in mice found that chlorella played a significant role in preventing age-related mental decline. A big part of this seemed to be chlorella’s antioxidant effects on the brain.
A 2014 study found that chlorella treated with activated clay, to make it more suitable as a fuel source, lost over 70 percent of its fatty acid content. Chlorella sold in health stores should have a higher nutritional value than that being considered for fuel.
There is a lack of regulation over the safety and efficacy of supplements in the United States, however, so people should still use caution when purchasing from these retail stores.
Below are some of the nutritional benefits of chlorella.
Chlorella vulgaris, one of the most commonly used varieties, is up to 58 percent protein.
Chlorella protein is absorbed by the body almost as well as protein from eggs and milk. This is rare for plant protein sources and makes chlorella a great protein option for vegans.
Chlorella is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B-12, as confirmed by a 2002 study.
A 2015 study found that B-12 taken from chlorella helped to improve the health markers of 17 vegans and vegetarians between the ages of 26–57 years old with a history of B-12 deficiency.
This result suggests that the body effectively absorbs the B-12 found in chlorella, making the alga a useful option for vegans and vegetarians with vitamin B-12 deficiency.
Chlorella is rich in iron and can stave-off an iron deficiency. One 2009 study found that a group of pregnant women given a chlorella supplement experienced significantly lower rates of pregnancy-associated anemia.