This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
Research shows that spirulina, a blue-green algae, can help alleviate various medical conditions, including high cholesterol. A study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture finds that taking one gram of spirulina each day is effective in lowering cholesterol.
In the study conducted at University Hospital at Heraklion in Crete, Greece, scientists worked with 42 patients who were diagnosed with high cholesterol. The patients took one gram of spirulina per day for three months, and their lipid profile was assessed at the beginning and end of the study period.
While the high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or good cholesterol, was not significantly improved, all the other measurements showed beneficial reductions. These included triglycerides, total cholesterol, ratio of total cholesterol to good cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, which is bad cholesterol. The authors concluded that spirulina had a “powerful” effect on lowering blood lipids, especially on triglycerides.
Earlier Study Has Similar Findings
An earlier study published in Nutrition Reports International also found taking spirulina supplements can lower cholesterol. This investigation involved 30 healthy men who were diagnosed with either mild high cholesterol or mild high blood pressure. Half of the participants received 4.2 grams of spirulina daily for four weeks, and half received the same dose of the supplement for eight weeks.
The results showed that spirulina significantly reduced cholesterol. In this case, the reduction was greater in those who had higher cholesterol. After the supplement was discontinued, the cholesterol levels returned to the baseline readings.
Other Health Benefits of Spirulina
A nutrient-rich food, many of the minerals and vitamins within spirulina have antioxidant properties.
It is a good detoxifier, particularly for heavy metals. A mid-1990s study in Bangladesh showed it to be very helpful for arsenic poisoning.
Spirulina boosts immunity and reduces inflammation.
Some research suggests it is a natural cancer fighter. Yet more studies show a potential for an array of disorders, including eye disease, thyroid malfunction, allergic rhinitis and improved gut flora.
Since spirulina is a potent detoxifier, it is recommended to start at a low dose. After you see how your body responds, you can slowly increase the amount you take. Do not take spirulina if you are allergic to seafood. Pregnant women or patients with hyperthyroidism should consult their healthcare practitioner before taking it.