Watch out, spirulina, there’s a new algae in town, and it’s name is chlorella. This new superfood has received a lot of attention in the health world because it helps to reduce cholesterol levels and rid the body of toxins. Chlorella is rich in diverse nutrients, and various cultures have consumed it for many years for that very reason.
What Is Chlorella?
This single-celled freshwater algae was exposed as an alternative food source in the 1940s. When dried, studies show that 50% of it is comprised of protein. It is also rich in B vitamins, complex carbohydrates, polyunsaturated fats, iron, fiber, vitamin C, and lutein. Because chlorella has a hard cell, which humans cannot digest, it must be taken in the form of a supplement to reap the benefits. It is currently available in powder, tablet, capsule, or extract form.
Chlorella has recently gained popularity in the health world, and studies to confirm the health benefits have been conducted. Proponents of alternative medicine praise chlorella for its ability to promote natural detoxification and boost immune function. It does have other health benefits, however, which we explore below.
It Binds To Heavy Metals To Promote Detoxification
The human body is subject to heavy metal and toxin exposure on a daily basis. In addition to damaging the body, heavy metals and other toxins can increase the risk of neurodegenerative disorders like depression or Alzheimer’s disease. These heavy metals can enter the body via airborne toxins or through harmful chemicals found in food items. Based on several studies, chlorella helps to reduce the presence of heavy metals in the body. As it passes through the body, chlorella binds to toxins and the excretory system does the rest.
It May Lower Cholesterol Levels
Several studies have confirmed that chlorella may reduce LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels in people with high cholesterol and high blood pressure. A 2014 study, which was published in Nutritional Journal, found that daily intake of 416 milligrams of chlorella improved blood lipid levels in 62 adults with elevated cholesterol levels. Additionally, the study found that chlorella increased beneficial cholesterol (HDL) levels.
It May Enhance Immune Function
A healthy immune system helps to protect the body from harmful viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Studies have shown that chlorella helps to enhance immune response in both animal and human studies. One study examined two groups of men; one group took chlorella and the other took a placebo. The group that took chlorella produced more antibodies, which are necessary for fighting foreign invaders in the body. Another eight-week study found that adults who took chlorella demonstrated increased immune activity.
It Has Antioxidant Properties
Chlorella contains several nutrients with known antioxidant properties. Chlorophyll, lycopene, lutein, vitamin C, and beta-carotene are powerful antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress and fight chronic diseases. Human studies found that chlorella supplements increased antioxidant levels in chronic cigarette smokers, who have an increased risk of oxidative damage.
It May Improve Respiratory Conditions
As we previously mentioned, chlorella has powerful antioxidant properties, which work to reduce inflammation. When healing respiratory conditions, especially asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), one of the first steps is to decrease inflammation. Preliminary studies show that chlorella’s antioxidant activity can improve breathing capability in COPD patients, but more studies need to be done to support this.