Spirulina is probably the number one choice for natural green food color. If you’ve ever tried your hand at mermaid toast or cake decorating, you know what I’m talking about! The beautiful dark green color comes from an immune-boosting, detoxifying component named chlorophyll.
You may have seen it in stores in tablet, flake, or powder form, and wondered what the fuss is all about. More than just a pretty face, spirulina is actually an alga—a type of cyanobacteria that grows in both fresh and saltwater—packed with good-for-you nutrients and vitamins that benefit your brain, as well as your beauty.
It appears that this sea vegetable was grown by Aztecs before the 16th century and was even proposed by NASA in this century as a potential food source for astronauts to grow on Mars [source].
Rich in amino acids and beta-carotene, spirulina contains many of the B vitamins the body needs (B1, B2, B3), as well as copper and iron in significant quantities. Magnesium, potassium, and manganese are also present in its composition, together with trace amounts of many other vital nutrients [source]. Spirulina is also a great source of protein, and it has been compared to eggs from this point of view.
Spirulina is an excellent ingredient in smoothies, whether you’re looking to enhance your overall health or to replenish the body during or after an illness, excessive stress, or even a workout. Its main active component, phycocyanin, is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, which benefits health in a number of ways [source].
Spirulina can prevent skeletal muscle damage and improve endurance even with the oxidative stress seen when you are deconditioned and start to exercise [source]. Research has also shown that spirulina aids in weight loss, lowers your blood lipids, and reduces your appetite [source]—pretty much everything that most people are looking for!
Next time you spot spirulina on the shelves of a store, we probably won’t have to remind you to put it in your basket! You can add it to your chia pudding or popsicles, but you can just as well apply it directly to your face for a brightening face mask. And, of course, you can use it to make this super green spirulina smoothie!
Super Green Spirulina Smoothie
In this easy green spirulina smoothie recipe, we combine leafy greens, spirulina, the sweetness of apple juice, and a dash of ginger. Despite the small number of ingredients, this smoothie is filled with health benefits.
Kale is packed with immune-boosting vitamin C, and also with beauty-favorites A, D, and K, and lots of antioxidants [source]. If, instead of kale, you’ve got spinach in the fridge, don’t skip this recipe just yet; the smoothie will be just as healthy!
Spinach is an important source of digestion-aiding fiber, vitamins K and C, iron, calcium, and folic acid—and ranks high as an anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, lipid-lowering leafy green vegetable that is packed with health-promoting nutrients [source].
Finish off with the amount of ice and apple juice needed to create your favorite consistency. This smoothie is easy to make, yet it’s a powerful combination your body craves.
Super Green Spirulina Smoothie
- 1 cup organic apple juice
- 1 tablespoon spirulina powder or several spirulina tablets
- handful kale and/or spinach
- handful ice cubes
- dash ground ginger
- Add spirulina and kale and/or spinach into the blender. Sprinkle in some powered ginger to spice it up a bit.
- Fill with apple juice to the 2-cup line. Blend until smooth. Add ice as needed to thicken or water to thin the consistency.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified physician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical reviewers here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Natalia Vanthienen8