Chlorella is a type of green algae that normally found in bodies of freshwater. Chlorella has over thirty (30) different varieties but the two (2) variants used the most for research are Chlorella Pyrenoidosa and Chlorella Vulgaris. These beneficial algae can be taken directly as a supplement due to it being encapsulated in a hard shell. As such, chlorella supplements are usually offered in different forms such as in tablets, capsules, extract or powder. Chlorella can also be used as a form of biodiesel fuel aside from its use as a supplement. In this article, we will look at the various health benefits and side effects of chlorella.
Top Health Benefits of Chlorella
Similar to spirulina which is an algae-based supplement, chlorella has a multitude of health benefits that can help individuals achieve better health and wellness. Listed below are some of these health benefits:
Chlorella has an impressive level of nutritional content. This resulted in some considering chlorella as a form of superfood. The level of the nutritional content of chlorella is certainly dependent on the type of chlorella species used, processing of the actual supplements and the overall condition while growing the algae. But while all these factors come into play, it is undeniable that Chlorella on its own has a number of nutritional benefits due to its high nutritional content. The nutritional Components of chlorella include:
- Protein: Chlorella is a complete protein with all the essential amino acids present. The protein content of chlorella is also impressive as the algae itself is composed of 50 to 60% protein component.
- Vitamin C and Iron: This freshwater alga is an excellent source of both Iron and Vitamin C. Iron can help those with anemia while vitamin C can help individuals boost their immune system.
Vitamin B12: While more studies are required to determine the exact amount of vitamin B12 present in certain varieties of chlorella, evidence suggests that chlorella has some traces of Vitamin B.
Antioxidants: Chlorella also has antioxidants that help fight against free radicals possibly helping the body in preventing the development of cancer-causing cells
Fiber: Algae is a great source of protein for plant-based food. However, it must be taken into consideration that plant-based foods usually provide small amounts of fiber only.
Omega 3s: Chlorella also has some omega-3s that help promote blood circulation and heart health.
Other minerals and vitamins: Aside from the aforementioned nutrients and vitamins and minerals present in chlorella, these algae also contain copper, zinc, magnesium, folic acid, other B vitamins, and calcium.
2. Help the body detoxify by binding heavy metals
Studies have shown that chlorella can actually help the body detoxify by flushing out compounds and heavy metals present in the circulatory system of the body. Examples of these heavy metals are toxic and cadmium and they can negatively affect a person’s overall health if they are not flushed out or properly managed. Chlorella has also been shown to significantly decrease harmful chemical compounds in the body such as dioxin.
3. Improve an individual’s immune system
A healthy immune system can effectively fend off infections and other illnesses. The immune system should ideally be able to react and fight these “unwelcome” guests in the human body. Chlorella may be linked to increased immune system response and health. Individuals who took chlorella supplementation were shown to have increased antibodies in their bloodstream.
4. Help manage cholesterol levels
Regularly taking a daily 5 to 10 grams of chlorella supplementation can help individuals lower their overall cholesterol and LDL or bad cholesterol. This cholesterol managing property chlorella is highly beneficial and important for people with hypertension or high blood pressure and for those with a history of cardiovascular disease. Certain chlorella components can help the body control its cholesterol levels such as fiber, niacin, antioxidants, and carotenoids.
5. It can serve as an antioxidant
As discussed earlier, chlorella has a number of antioxidant components that can contribute to it as a supplement primarily focused on providing antioxidant properties These include vitamin C, chlorophyll, lutein, lycopene, and beta- carotene.
6. Manages and control blood pressure
Chlorella can help manage cholesterol levels which may help individuals manage and maintain optimal blood pressure levels. It can also help improve kidney and heart health which are also very important in managing blood pressure and hypertension. Chlorella has also been shown to improve the flexibility of arteries in men resulting in better blood flow and circulation.
7. It can help control blood sugar levels
Chlorella can especially be beneficial to patients with or at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Evidence suggests that those individuals who regularly took chlorella supplementation for twelve (12) weeks showed decreased blood sugar levels both for those at risk for type 2 diabetes and for healthy individuals. Chlorella has also been shown to improve the body’s sensitivity to insulin especially for those patients with fatty liver. To get the optimal health benefits for this algae supplement, it is best taken together with other health therapies such as proper diet, exercise, and other maintenance medicines.
What are the Side Effects of Chlorella Supplements?
While chlorella has a lot of health benefits and while it is generally safe for most people, there are a number of considerations before taking chlorella as a supplementation. Listed below are some of the said considerations:
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women: Women who are pregnant and those who are breastfeeding should take Chlorella supplementation with caution as there are still limited studies on the effect of chlorella on lactating and pregnant women.
- People who are allergic to molds: Individuals who are allergic to molds may also experience some allergic reactions when they take chlorella supplements.
- People who are immunocompromised: Patients who have a deficiency in their immune system may cause an imbalance in bacterial gut further exacerbating their already compromised immune systems.
- People who are sensitive to Iodine: Those who are allergic to iodine may want to steer clear from chlorella as the said algae can contain iodine.