Chlorella has long been known as a superfood, due to its unique cellular structure, high chlorophyll content and the wide range of vitamins which it contains. Derived from two Latin terms meaning small and green (1), chlorella is a single celled algae with a variety of positive health benefits.
Used as a food source for thousands of years, chlorella has a singular blend of antioxidants, protein, fatty acids, minerals and vitamins – delivering the building blocks for healthy cellular regeneration.
Yet, if you’re unfamiliar with the many benefits of chlorella, you likely have questions about its specific properties and whether it has any possible side effects. So, to help you understand this remarkable algae and how it can enhance your personal health, let’s examine it in more detail below.
Chlorella primarily grows in freshwater which receives abundant sunlight. In Asia, chlorella has been cultivated for centuries as a food source, in pools specially designed for the task. This green algae has a nearly impenetrable cell wall, which is one of its special characteristics, and also makes it easy to grow. Chlorella grows extraordinarily quickly – with one cell dividing into four new cells in less than one day. This ability to reproduce is due to its own chlorella growth factor, which is housed in the nucleus of its cell (2).
Extremely small in size, chlorella has the most chlorophyll content of any known plant, ounce for ounce.
The first benefit provided by this superfood, is the full scope of B vitamins which it contains. It has generous portions of each of the B vitamins, which the body needs to convert food into energy effectively. Further, chlorella delivers B12 – which is primarily found in animal-based products.
This makes it an excellent addition to the diet of any vegetarian or vegan, as B12 is essential for health. While research is still being conducted on whether this B12 is properly absorbed (a common problem for food-based B12), chlorella does provide another possible source for this essential nutrient (3). In fact, chlorella contains a greater concentration of vitamin B12 than liver pound for pound (4).
Another reason that chlorella is a positive addition to your personal health and fitness regimen, is the helpful enzymes which it contains. Why is this important? Enzymes allow you to break down the food which you ingest more easily and more completely, leading to better absorption of nutrients.
Specifically, chlorella provides two potent enzymes – chlorophyllase and pepsin (5). Not only will this influx of enzymes help you to digest other foods more readily, it allows your body to more effectively absorb the nutrients within chlorella as well.
If you’ve been struggling to maintain a healthy diet and avoid overeating, then chlorella may be able to help. One scientific study found that providing participants with membranes containing chlorophyll caused them to feel less hungry – allowing them to eat less while not feeling deprived (6). If you recall, chlorella has the highest known chlorophyll content of any plant by percentage. Therefore, if you been looking for a way to eat less and lose weight, chlorella is a perfect addition to your diet.
As further evidence that chlorella is a superfood that has potent health benefits, it contains high levels of vitamin D. Some experts believe that obtaining vitamins from whole food sources is far more effective, as they are more readily bio-available. What does this mean? Simply put, man-made vitamins may not absorb as well into your system, making foods like chlorella the superior choice.
Chlorella also contains alpha lipoic acid, which is one of the most powerful antioxidants available. In fact, chlorella goes a step further, by also providing vitamin C. Why is this important? Alpha lipoic acid has the ability to neutralize free radicals in your body, by taking on a single electron into its structure. However, once this process is accomplished, alpha lipoic acid can no longer absorb any remaing free radicals.
Vitamin C is able to replenish alpha lipoic acid’s ability to absorb free radicals once more – essentially doubling its effectiveness. Since chlorella contains both alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C, it is a powerful combination that should be added to your diet.
If you been searching for a plant-based whole protein source, chlorella is an excellent choice. Ounce for ounce it contains more protein than red meat, without all of the saturated fat.
Not only does chlorella deliver essential vitamins and protein, it contains an array of vital minerals as well. Each serving contains minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus. All of these are essential for optimum health and fitness – further cementing chlorella’s superfood status.
Perhaps the single greatest benefit of chlorella is its powerful detoxification properties. This tiny algae may be able to bind to toxins within your body, allowing them to pass out of your system. How is this accomplished?
Some experts postulate that chlorella’s nearly indestructible cellular wall is able to chelate toxins effectively. Most chlorella supplements first break down these cell walls, reducing chlorella into a absorbable powder. This allows your body to use it most effectively, allowing it to bind to harmful toxins.
While there is some debate as to the extent of chlorella’s chelation power, some research has been positive in this area. For example, the results of one study suggested that chlorophyll stopped the absorption of the toxin aflatoxin B1 when ingested (7).
Other studies conducted in rats have shown similar results, with one studying the effects chlorella to diminish cadmium (a heavy metal) toxicity. Rats who receive the highest concentration of chlorella in their diet had the lowest amount of cadmium in their liver at the end of the study (8).
Amazingly, chlorella supplies both omega-3 and Omega six fatty acids, which have been shown to promote health in a variety of positive ways. For example, omega-3 fatty acids combat heart disease, work to protect nerve health (9) and brain function.
Some experts believe that nucleic acids work to keep your body young, by allowing your cells to repair and regrow more effectively. Known as cellular rejuvenation, this process relies upon the DNA and RNA in your cells. What does this have to do with chlorella?
It has extremely high amounts of nucleic acids, far more than red meat. In fact, sardines are sometimes listed near the top of the list, when it comes to nucleic acid content. Yet, chlorella has 17 times the amount of RNA within it, when compared to canned sardines (10).
Nucleic acid may allow your cells to function better, repair more easily, remove toxins, manufacture greater levels of energy and more efficiently absorb vitamins and minerals (11).
Having covered all of the amazing health benefits of chlorella in detail above, you may be wondering if it has any side effects. Most people tolerate chlorella well, with no reactions or problems to speak up.
However, due to its possible chelation and detoxing effect, you may experience some of the symptoms associated with this process. For example, when detoxing long store toxins within your system to quickly, you may feel sluggish, suffer bad breath or experience a headache. If this occurs, simply lower your dose of chlorella until the symptoms abate. Then, slowly raise your dose over time, as you are able to tolerate more.
However, while chlorella may promote detoxification and the symptoms which go along with it, it actually works to lessen the symptoms at the same time. How so? For example, there is colloquial evidence that suggests that chlorella enhances energy levels. Therefore, if you temporarily feel sluggish due to toxins being evacuated from your system, chlorella may help to combat that feeling.
With all of the health benefits which chlorella can offer, this potent algae is truly a wonderful addition to your diet. If you’ve been searching for a way to get more vitamins, nutrients, minerals, protein, healthy fatty acids and antioxidants – chlorella is an obvious choice.
It can provide a whole food source for a vast array of these necessary compounds, which may allow them to be more bioavailable to your system. In addition, chlorella’s extremely high chlorophyll content may give you a variety of additional health benefits for you to enjoy.
Therefore, for all these reasons, chlorella is a must addition to your diet.
SOURCES: (1) https://www.sunchlorellausa.com/what-is-chlorella (2) https://www.sunchlorellausa.com/what-is-chlorella (3) http://www.veganhealth.org/b12/plant#chlorella (4) http://www.naturalnews.com/026147_chlorella_cancer_body.html (5) http://thechalkboardmag.com/superfood-spotlight-the-health-benefits-of-chlorella (6) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23632035 (7) http://hypefreehealth.hubpages.com/hub/chlorophyll-overhyped-benefits-and-claims (8) http://www.naturalnews.com/026147_chlorella_cancer_body.html (9) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/01/120111103856.htm (10) http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/chlorella-anti-aging-tip/#axzz3PabzrRfF (11) http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/chlorella-anti-aging-tip/#axzz3PabzrRfF
Writer, contributor and a huge fan of healthy lifestyle. I write about my own experiences with different types of food.