Edible algae have made their way into our daily diets, and our social feeds.
The two varieties of algae that you’re probably most likely to find on your Instagram feed are chlorella and spirulina, both of which are celebrated for their benefits for the immune system and, more recently, for their potential to support detoxification.
Both of these superfood algae are perfectly Instagrammable with their vibrant green and blue hues. And they both have impressive nutritional profiles since algae are one of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods.
But what exactly are chlorella and spirulina? And what is the difference between them?
What exactly are chlorella and spirulina?
Both chlorella and spirulina are ancient algae which grow in freshwater ponds.
Chlorella is a 2-billion-year-old micro algae and one of the oldest living organisms on the planet. Growing in freshwater ponds, chlorella soaks up natural sunlight to form chlorella cells.
When harvested, the chlorella plant is sieved from the water with fine mesh screens, capturing the delicate chlorella cells, then hand-washed and fast-dried to preserve the nutritional content. Our Chlorella powder is milled down to break down the insoluble chlorella cell walls, which the human body is unable to digest. This process means that our Chlorella powder has the nutrients accessible for digestion.
Spirulina has inhabited the world for over 2.4 billion years. This ancient blue-green cyanobacterium is a natural plant source of protein which is cultivated sustainably in freshwater ponds under warm sunlight.
Spirulina is harvested with a fine mesh-screen that captures the small coiled filaments from the water. It’s then sieved and transferred to a washing pond, before being hand-washed over a mesh-screen, ensuring that only pure spirulina is processed. This wet spirulina is placed in a drying chamber which quickly evaporates all the moisture, while preserving the rich nutrient content, leaving behind a fine green powder.
What are the differences between these two algae superfoods?
Both algae have comparable nutritional properties and potential benefits to your health, helping to energise the body, support the immune system and protect the body against oxidative stress.
But one of the biggest differences between the two is their colour. Chlorella has a vibrant green colour while Spirulina has more of a dark blue-ish hue.
What are the benefits?
If you follow a plant-based diet and not eating fish, both chlorella and spirulina are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids which contribute to balancing and maintaining normal cholesterol levels.
They are also a great source of complete plant protein, helping the body to build and maintain muscle mass, and Chlorella is incredibly rich in iron which is essential for energising the body and fighting fatigue. 1 tablespoon (15g) of Chlorella powder contains as much iron as 700g of baby spinach!
If you follow a vegan or plant-based diet, it can be challenging to find natural sources of vitamin B12 which is typically found in foods including meat, eggs and dairy. Chlorella is one of the only plant-based sources of vitamin B12, which is needed to energise the body and support a healthy immune system.
Our cracked-cell organic Chlorella powder is intensely rich in vitamins B12 and D which support normal functioning of the immune system. It is also a source of vitamins A, E and riboflavin (B2) which help to protect the body against the effects of oxidative stress and support immunity too.
Spirulina is a natural source of vitamins A, B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), iodine, manganese and calcium. These nutrients protect the body against oxidative stress, nourish the immune system, support heart function and maintain healthy bones.
How do I use chlorella and spirulina?
If you choose to give chlorella or spirulina a chance, both are great nutritious options for supercharging your smoothies and meals.
Here are some tips for you…
- Taken as a shot, chlorella is helpful before a good night out, and beneficial the morning after
- Blend Spirulina powder or Chlorella powder into smoothies to create a vibrant green/blue colour
- Add chlorella to smashed avocado on toast
- Mix into ‘no-bake’ energy balls or energy bars
- Blend our Spirulina powder into a cleansing green soup
- Stir Chlorella powder into pesto to boost a pasta dish