Blue-Green Algae (BGA): Spirulina, Chlorella and more
The single-celled plants known as blue-green algae (BGA) are sold in health food stores as superior sources of protein, chlorophyll, carotenoid antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and disease-preventive phytonutrients. There are several types of BGAs, the most popular being spirulina and chlorella.
The existing research, while lacking in many regards, suggests that BGAs exert some significant and perhaps unique preventive-health effects, most likely due to their polysaccharides, antioxidants, nucleic acids, and peptides. Preliminary evidence suggests that they have the following benefits:
- Spirulina inhibits the infectious power of many viruses—including HIV, flu, mumps, enterovirus, measles, and herpes—probably because a sulfated polysaccharide called calcium spirulan prevents viruses from entering human cells.
- Chlorella helps prevent cancer and the growth of tumors, probably because its glycoproteins enhance the migration of T cells to tumor sites
- Chlorella binds to toxic heavy metals and dioxin and helps eliminate them from the body.
- Chlorella protects the intestinal lining against peptic ulcers
Both spirulina and chlorella:
- Help diminish allergies such as hay fever
- Help protect the liver from toxins
- Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol
- Help control symptoms of ulcerative colitis
- Exert strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects
BGAs are rich in essential fatty acids, phenolic antioxidants, chlorophyll, B vitamins, carotenoids and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and zinc. BGAs—especially spirulina—are also good sources of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid with many healthful properties, which some people's bodies have trouble producing and which is lacking in the standard American diet.
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