Posted on Sep 23, 2022, 5 p.m.
Article courtesy of Dr. Joel Kahn, MD, who is a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Wayne State University School of Medicine, one of the world's top cardiologists, best-selling author, lecturer, and a leading expert in plant-based nutrition and holistic care.
Whether it’s lead, mercury, PFAS, BPA, DDT, glyphosate, or other toxins that are in the news, you can run but you cannot hide from the challenges to health that the Industrial Revolution and the chemical industry have created over the past century.
A focus on overall wellness requires a plan to death with bio toxicity from water, air, food, medications, and other sources. In addition to air filters, water filters, glass containers, and sauna therapy, I take a handful of 30 organic chlorella tablets every day.
Whether you are following a vegan, Paleo, Keto, Mediterranean, or certainly if a Standard American Diet (SAD), chlorella is quickly becoming well known (along with spirulina) as one of the world’s healthiest foods to manage bio toxicity. An added bonus is the nutritional content this powerhouse of a crop provides.
Background on Chlorella
Chlorella has been around for hundreds of millions of years. However, awareness of its nutritional properties started less than 100 years ago. Following World War 2, there was a global food shortage. As the population of the world continued to rise exponentially, economists feared that global food production could not meet the demands of the growing population. Food scientists, hard at work searching for sustainable means of nutrition, came across chlorella. After some resistance to the idea of eating algae as food, the use of chlorella in the NASA program brought it to public attention.
Nutritional Value of Chlorella
- Protein: Chlorella is 60% protein. What’s more, it’s a complete protein source, meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids.
- Vitamin B12: Some chlorella varieties contain vitamin B12.
- Iron and vitamin C: Chlorella can be a good source of iron. It may provide anywhere from 6–40% of your daily need. It’s also an excellent source of vitamin C, which helps you absorb iron.
- Antioxidants: These tiny green cells provide a wide range of antioxidants.
- Vitamins and minerals: Chlorella provides small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid, and other B vitamins.
- Omega-3s: As with other algae, chlorella contains omega-3. Just 3 grams of chlorella delivers 100 mg of omega-3s.
- Fiber: In large quantities, chlorella can be a good source of fiber.
- Vitamin K2:Chlorella is one of the best plant sources of vitamin K2 which promotes more youthful arteries and stronger bones and teeth.
Health Benefits of Chlorella
Chlorella has been a well-researched food with most studies currently focusing on its health benefits. Some of the most important features of using chlorella as a food source include:
1. Removes Toxins (including alcohol)
Chlorella has the unique ability to bind to and remove heavy metals from the body. Studies show that chlorella is effective at removing several harmful compounds from the body, including heavy metals like lead.
When lead-exposed research mice were given a dose of chlorella at the time of lead exposure, their blood lead levels dropped by 66%!. The researchers attributed this to chlorella’s strong chelation properties. The researchers also found that chlorella was able to reduce blood lead levels in mice previously exposed to lead due to its ability to strengthen the immune system.
One study found that chlorella counteracted heavy metal poisoning and prevented tissue damage by reducing the absorption of cadmium into the body. Heavy metal toxicity, including cadmium and lead toxicity, is a problem facing many developed countries.
Chlorella has also been found to promote the metabolism of alcohol in humans. A study performed with 6 human subjects found that consuming chlorella before drinking alcohol reduced ethanol in the blood and breath along with reducing acetaldehyde, a contributing cause of hangovers, in the blood.
2. Immune Support
Chlorella has been found to stimulate the production of several cell types critical to the immune system. After just 2 months of adding on chlorella, study subjects demonstrated improvements in measures of the immune system. A similar study’s human subjects saw results in just 1 month. This study tested chlorella’s ability to stimulate immune function in humans.
Chlorella has been tested to see if it can improve the purity of breast milk. Mothers taking chlorella are protected from dioxins being transferred to infants while breastfeeding. Chlorella has been found to stimulate antibodies in breast milk that eliminate dioxins.
3. Cholesterol Support
Chlorella has multiple studies demonstrating its efficacy in improving lipid-related biomarkers. It has been found to reduce cholesterol along with triglycerides in patients with slightly above-average cholesterol levels. The researchers attributed these health benefits to the high levels of carotenoids α-carotene and lutein/zeaxanthin in chlorella. There have also been studies indicating chlorella can help reduce total body fat as well as blood glucose levels.
4. Blood Pressure Support
Chlorella is loaded with micronutrients and antioxidants that are important for maintaining healthy arteries, which, in turn, improve blood pressure. These nutrients help reduce arterial stiffness — a problem commonly associated with high blood pressure. Some research suggests that chlorella improves arterial health by increasing nitric oxide levels. Research has used both younger and older individuals, meaning anyone can benefit from chlorella.
5. Better Aerobic Endurance
Chlorella’s ability to increase oxygen uptake capacity was studied in both young men and women. Chlorella was found to significantly improve peak oxygen. These findings suggest that consuming chlorella could be beneficial to athletes who participate in sports or exercise requiring significant aerobic endurance.
How to Use Chlorella
Most people find chlorella algae more palatable than its cousin algae, spirulina. It has a very “green” flavor but is easier to chew than spirulina and is much less bitter. If the flavor or deep green color doesn’t seem appealing, you can always just swallow chlorella as tablets with some water. Small tablets are easier to swallow and may be more acceptable for children. Heat can damage chlorella so it is not usually used in cooking. Keeping chlorella in the refrigerator can help maintain the flavor, but you don’t have to worry about leaving it at room temperature — even on an especially hot day.
Chlorella must go through a longer process to maximize its nutrition than other crops. This leaves more room for error as a grower and for that reason, it is crucial to select a chlorella product that is grown the right way.
The requirements for high-quality chlorella growing location (Taiwan is best), whether it is grown indoors or outdoors (outdoors is best), in tanks or pools (pools are best), contaminant testing (must be 3rd-party tested), and ocean water vs. freshwater (freshwater is best) among others.
There are two further points about chlorella to consider:
1. What is the strain of this chlorella?
There are two main strains of chlorella that are used for their health benefits — Chlorella Pyrenoidosaand Chlorella Vulgaris. There have been no studies directly comparing the nutritional benefits of these two chlorella. With that said, Chlorella Vulgaris is far more common and suspect in quality.
Many mass producers choose this chlorella for its ability to grow in less than pristine conditions, meaning the chlorella does not properly develop its most important nutrients. If chlorella is grown indoors, it will not properly develop chlorophyll, a key nutrient for detox. If the chlorella is grown in less than pristine water or without the proper nutrients, the chlorella will not contain as much protein.
As Chlorella Pyrenoidosa is more common for higher quality growers (especially in Taiwan, as this strain is native there), it often contains more protein and micronutrients. So, while some manufacturers may take great care in growing high-quality Chlorella Vulgaris, Chlorella Pyrenoidosais the safer option in our opinion.
2. How is this chlorella’s cell wall processed?
One of the most important things to know when you are looking for the best chlorella algae on the market is how the chlorella’s cell wall is processed. Chlorella has one of the hardest cell walls in the plant kingdom. In order to make its nutrients bioavailable, that cell wall must be opened.
There are many ways manufacturers process chlorella. The best chlorella has its cell wall broken by sound vibrations. The chlorella is passed through a sound chamber, cracking the cell walls without high heat or excessive grinding. This method allows the nutrition in chlorella to remain intact yet bioavailable.
Some manufacturers use chemicals or extreme heat to make chlorella digestible; however, these methods severely harm chlorella’s nutrition. More common methods include milling and pressurizing the chlorella. While using a pressure-release chamber prevents oxidization and nutrient degradation, milling chlorella can negatively affect its nutrient content and digestibility.
Chlorella algae can be a game-changer for health. A strategy to avoid and eliminate toxins is not a luxury. Many foods are good for getting the nutrients we need, but only a handful are good at removing the toxins it doesn’t need. Chlorella can help cleanse environmental toxins and promote a higher level of health and wellness. That is why my daily routine includes a heaping handful of 30 chlorella bits a day, usually towards the evening. I suggest you do the same.
About the author: At his core, Dr. Joel Kahn believes that plant-based nutrition is the most powerful source of preventative medicine on the planet. Having practiced traditional cardiology since 1983, it was only after his own commitment to a plant-based vegan diet that he truly began to delve into the realm of non-traditional diagnostic tools, prevention tactics, and nutrition-based recovery protocols.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before making any changes to your wellness routine.
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