Chlorella is a green, single-celled alga consumed in the form of supplements to improve health. It acts as an antioxidant, strengthens the immune system, and reduces both cholesterol and blood pressure. Chlorella is also a source of protein, Omega-3 fats, iron, fiber, and pigments (chlorophyll, lutein, and beta-carotene).
While this alga offers numerous health benefits and can be an excellent dietary supplement for vegans and vegetarians, a lot of misinformation surrounds it. Does it help oxygenate the blood? Can it provide vitamin B12? In our new guide, we will tell you everything there is to know about chlorella.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 The best Chlorella: Our Picks
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Chlorella
- 4.1 What is chlorella exactly?
- 4.2 What nutrients does chlorella provide?
- 4.3 What are the health benefits of chlorella?
- 4.4 What types of chlorella supplements are there?
- 4.5 What is the best way to take chlorella supplements?
- 4.6 Is chlorella a good source of vitamin B12?
- 4.7 Can chlorophyll oxygenate the blood?
- 4.8 Does chlorella help to remove heavy metals from the body?
- 4.9 What is the difference between chlorella and spirulina?
- 4.10 Can I experience side effects from using chlorella?
- 4.11 Does chlorella have any contraindications?
- 5 Buyer's Guide
- 6 Summary
- Chlorella is a unicellular alga, which means that it consists of a single cell. This concentrated source of nutrients stands out for its content in proteins, Omega-3 fats, chlorophyll, beta-carotene, and iron. It is an antioxidant, improves the immune response, cares for the sight, prevents anemia, and lowers blood cholesterol.
- Chlorella must go through a process of disintegration of its cell wall to be assimilated by the body. These supplements come in the form of tablets, extracts, capsules, and powders.
- You will have to evaluate a series of key criteria before purchasing your chlorella supplement. These include their taste and origin, as well as the potential presence of allergens.
The best Chlorella: Our Picks
While the vast majority of chlorella products out there are safe for consumption, a few may be contaminated with heavy metals from the water where this microalga grows. To help you choose a high-quality supplement, we have selected some of the best products currently available on the market:
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Chlorella
What is chlorella exactly?
The cell wall of this alga is very resistant and must be broken down for the human body to absorb its nutrients and pigments. This is why chlorella is consumed in the form of supplements – powders, extracts, capsules, and tablets. The microalga is centrifuged and disintegrated to create these products (2, 3).
What nutrients does chlorella provide?
- Proteins: 61 to 64%. The proteins of this microalgae contain all the essential amino acids for the human (4).
- Fiber: 12 to 13.5%.
- Carbohydrates: 10 to 14%.
- Fats: 1.8 to 2.3%, mostly unsaturated, among which we find Omega-3 fats (5).
- Iron: 80 to 120 mg (per 100 grams of chlorella powder).
- Vitamin E: 18 mg (per 100 grams of microalgae powder).
- Carotenoids: Chlorella provides the pigments beta-carotene (provitamin A) and lutein (4).
- Chlorophyll: Responsible for the green color, this major pigment is found in a concentration ranging from 1 to 4% (4).
- Other micronutrients: B-complex vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, and B9), vitamin K (anti-hemorrhagic), selenium, magnesium, iodine, calcium, and phosphorus.
What are the health benefits of chlorella?
- It has a powerful antioxidant effect due to its content of chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lutein, vitamin E, selenium, and phenolic compounds. These molecules mitigate oxidative damage caused by tobacco, alcohol, sunlight, and environmental pollution, among other agents. Oxidation is associated with numerous cardiac, vascular, renal, and neurodegenerative conditions (6, 7).
- It reduces fatigue and increases energy levels. Many of chlorella's nutrients are involved in energy metabolism, such as selenium, magnesium, and B-complex vitamins (8).
- It improves iron intake and prevents iron-deficiency anemia, especially in vegan and vegetarian individuals. Two teaspoons of chlorella powder provide 12 milligrams of iron. However, this iron is non-heme, and our organism cannot assimilate it as well as heme iron found in animal products. Chlorella and vitamin C are combined to improve the absorption of non-heme iron (9).
- It acts as a hepatoprotector. Several studies have shown promising results when testing the protective effect of chlorella against toxic damage on the liver. This hepatoprotective capacity is similar to that of the medication silymarin and is also linked to its high content of antioxidants (10, 11).
- It strengthens the immune system. Supplementing with chlorella can contribute to improving the immune response, especially against viruses and cancer cells. This is because it stimulates the activity of a type of lymphocyte called natural killer (NK) (12, 13).
- It protects eyesight. Chlorella contains an antioxidant pigment (lutein) that can prevent cataract and age-related macular degeneration, which are leading causes of blindness in older adults (14).
- It reduces cholesterol and blood glucose levels. The hypocholesterolemic properties of chlorella are related to its content of Omega-3 fats and a type of polysaccharide called 1,3-beta-glucan (1). This microalga also lowers blood sugar and improves insulin sensitivity (15).
- It helps to normalize blood pressure. Chlorella vulgaris has been shown to have an antihypertensive effect; in other words, its daily consumption helps to reduce blood pressure values (16).
What types of chlorella supplements are there?
- Powder: Chlorella is centrifuged and micropulverized to a fine powder that dissolves easily in water or other liquids. Its powerful, earthy taste is quite peculiar; many people need some time to get used to it. You are recommended to take 3 to 10 grams per day.
- Capsules/tablets: These products consist of chlorella powder, either conveyed in a hydroxypropyl methylcellulose package (for capsules) or mixed with silicon dioxide (for tablets). Their taste is much more neutral than that of the powder. Recommended daily intake is 1 to 6 tablets a day.
|Chlorella powder||Chlorella tablets/capsules|
|Flavor||Strong, bitter, earthy||The taste of capsules is almost neutral. The tablets retain the taste of chlorella, but you can barely notice it as you swallow them with water.|
|Form of consumption||Mixed with some liquid (water, milk, vegetable drink, apple juice, shakes). You can also incorporate it into creams, sauces, and baked goods.||Simply swallow them with water.|
|Recommended daily dose||3 to 10 grams||1 to 6 units|
What is the best way to take chlorella supplements?
- Capsules and tablets are better tolerated while taken with meals. Some people may experience heartburn when supplementing on an empty stomach.
- Chlorella powder can be much more pleasant if you mix it in shakes and smoothies with apple juice, kiwi, cocoa, pineapple, ginger, or coconut.
- If you want to make the most of the iron present in chlorella, you should take the supplements with a source of vitamin C. These include tomato, citrus fruits (orange, lemon, tangerine), strawberries, or kiwi fruit (9).
Is chlorella a good source of vitamin B12?
Unfortunately, many vegans believe that eating seaweed can help them meet their daily vitamin B12 requirements. The reality is that they are only ingesting a false form, and they expose themselves to megaloblastic anemia and neurological conditions. While blood tests may show healthy vitamin B12 levels, they will suffer from cyanocobalamin deficiency.
Can chlorophyll oxygenate the blood?
Does chlorella help to remove heavy metals from the body?
What is the difference between chlorella and spirulina?
|Biological structure||Single-celled alga||Cyanobacteria|
|Protein content (in 100 grams)||58 to 61 grams||60 to 66 grams|
|Iron content (in 100 grams)||76 to 120 milligrams||53 to 66 milligrams|
Can I experience side effects from using chlorella?
Does chlorella have any contraindications?
You should now be more familiar with the benefits, nutritional profile, and consumption methods of chlorella. However, choosing a supplement is important; you want the best quality to make the most of it while avoiding any risk to your health. This is why we have delved into the main shopping criteria in the section below:
Tablets and capsules are the easiest way to ingest chlorella since you only need a bit of water to swallow them. Chlorella powder, on the other hand, needs more preparation before consumption. You can dissolve it in water, shakes, creams, or sauces. In fact, some people even mask its taste in their coffee!
The flavor of chlorella capsules and tablets is practically non-existent, making them ideal for anyone who doesn't tolerate the very peculiar taste of this microalga. The powder is intense, bitter, and earthy. However, many people get used to it over time; others tolerate it better by mixing it with fruits, cocoa, ginger, or coconut.
Place of Production
North American and European countries have the strictest legislation regarding the safety of nutritional supplements. This is fundamental for chlorella products, as the alga can be contaminated with heavy metals. When you purchase your supplements, try and stick to those processed and packaged in North America or Europe. The raw material is often grown in other places, such as China, but this shouldn't be a concern.
Chlorella must be organic. When synthetic chemicals are used to stimulate its growth, these compounds can remain in the alga and enter the human body. Besides, this type of farming harms the environment.
Presence of Allergens
Chlorella is naturally free of gluten and other allergens, but that doesn't mean that the supplements cannot contain them. Contamination during processing is a common problem in these dietary products. Anyone suffering from a food allergy or intolerance should carefully read the nutrition label to check that they can safely consume the supplement.
Chlorella is a green single-celled alga that can enhance the nutritional quality of your diet and improve certain aspects of health. It is a source of proteins of high biological value and iron, which is why chlorella is an excellent food supplement for vegan and vegetarian individuals.
Chlorella comes in the form of powder, capsules, and tablets. The cell wall of this microalga is disintegrated to help the human body better absorb its components. Chlorella is rich in antioxidants, protects the health of the liver and eyesight, improves immunity, and lowers cholesterol and blood glucose levels.
Did you enjoy our guide on this wonderful alga? Feel free to give us your opinion by leaving a comment below, and don't forget to share this article on your social media!
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Shibata S, Nishihara T, Natori Y, Tomisaka K. Antioxidant and Anti-Cataract Effects of Chlorella on Rats with Streptozotocin-Induced Diabetes [Internet]. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 2003.
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