What’s small, green, and slightly hard to pronounce?
If you guessed chlorella, you’d be right!
This algae has been making waves in health and wellness circles for years, but what is chlorella? And why should you add it to your diet? We answer all of those questions — and more!
Meet chlorella, the super-algae
Chlorella is one of the oldest plants on the planet — it dates back 2 million years! It’s a single-celled, green algae that gets its green color from chlorophyll. It doesn’t take much for chlorella to grow: carbon dioxide, sunlight, a few nutrients and water. That’s it.
The name chlorella comes from the Greek word chloros, which means green, and the Latin word ella, which means small.
While this green algae may be small, it’s BIG on nutrition. Here’s what this superfood is packing:
- Protein: Chlorella is 50-60% protein. It’s also a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids.
- Antioxidants: Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein.
- Vitamins & Minerals: Chlorella provides a host of vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid, B vitamins
- Omega-3s: Chlorella also contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health.
A lot of people get spirulina and chlorella confused. While they’re both algae and contain chlorophyll (chlorella contains more), they do have some significant differences. The biggest one is that spirulina can be consumed right after harvest; chlorella cannot.
Chlorella contains hard cell walls, which means it can’t be digested by humans. Because of that, chlorella goes through a process known as “cell cracking” that makes it easier to digest and absorb and ultimately, reap the many health benefits.
4 health benefits from chlorella
1. It detoxifies heavy metals
Heavy metals are naturally occurring elements that are found throughout the earth’s crust.
They enter into the human body by air, water and food. Unfortunately, there’s no way you can avoid heavy metals because you’re exposed to them every day — but chlorella can help lighten the load!
Chlorella has the ability to wrap itself around heavy metals, including some of the most toxic heavy metals (lead, cadmium, mercury and uranium), and prevents them from being reabsorbed.
While more human studies are needed, animal studies also show that chlorella can reduce the heavy metal toxicity, especially from lead and cadmium, in the liver, kidneys and brain.
2. It gives your immune system a boost
Want to build a strong immune system? Load up on chlorella!
In one small study, 15 men were given either 30 tablets of chlorella or 30 tablets of a placebo for 4 weeks. Researchers determined those who took the chlorella tablets produced more antibodies (the protein that fights off invaders like bacteria and viruses) than those who took the placebo.
Another small study showed cell activity improved after taking chlorella tablets for 8 weeks.
3. It may lower cholesterol & blood pressure
One of the benefits of eating plants? Lowering your cholesterol — and chlorella is no exception!
Multiple studies support that chlorella supplements may be beneficial when it comes to lowering cholesterol, specifically LDL or the “bad” cholesterol.
The same goes for lowering blood pressure. In one 2009 study published in the peer-reviewed journal, “Clinical and Experimental Hypertension,” chlorella “significantly decreased high-normal blood pressure and borderline hypertension.”
Chlorella may also protect against hardening of the arteries.
4. It may be good for athletes
If you’re looking to improve your endurance, athletically speaking, one study suggests chlorella may help.
After giving a group of young adults chlorella or a placebo for six weeks, those who took the chlorella significantly improved their ability to saturate their lungs with oxygen. As a result, their aerobic endurance improved.
This may be due to chlorella’s branched-chain amino acid content. Generally speaking, branched chain amino acids have been shown to improve aerobic performance. (Learn more about branched chain amino acids in our hemp protein article!)
Speaking of athletic performance, chlorella could be beneficial for those who do athlete group training (like a sports training camp). According to one small study, researchers found chlorella intake may attenuate the reduced IgA (Immunoglobulin A) secretion during athletic training.
How to use chlorella
From capsules and tablets to extract, you can find chlorella in many different forms. However, we prefer chlorella powder and it’s one of the ingredients in the Super Green mix!
While chlorella is native to Japan and Taiwan, we source our chlorella from Germany from a family-owned business that helped develop the standards for organic algae.
The chlorella grows in a state of the art greenhouse (and we’re not just saying that because chlorella is green!). By growing the algae indoors, they create a controlled environment. This prevents bacteria, pesticides or other elements from contaminating the chlorella.
We may be biased, but we believe our algae farmer produces the highest quality (and cleanest!) chlorella on the market.