I’ve got a little riddle for you. What’s blue-green, comes from a lake or sea, and can help you beat hypertension?
Well, according to new research, it’s microalgae called spirulina.
Now I don’t know about you, but the closest I’ve come to eating algae is its kissing cousin seaweed, another aquatic plant you sometimes find in sushi rolls. But it turns out these nutrient-rich sea “veggies” were once a prized food source in the ancient world.
In fact, they were a regular menu item in Mexico in the 16th century, where the Aztecs harvested them and sold them in cakes.
Spirulina in space? Scientists say, “Yes!”
For centuries, spirulina fell off the radar. It resurfaced again in the 70s as a nutritional supplement. And recently interest in the nutrient-dense algae has ramped up again.
Scientists have even started investigating their potential as a food source for long space flights and long-term missions on other planets. But it turns out feeding hungry astronauts and homesteaders on Mars isn’t the only way we can use these nourishing algae.
In fact, a growing stack of studies has revealed spirulina could have BUNCHES of health benefits, including helping us beat high blood pressure without piling on more drugs.
Beat high blood pressure with algae
For the recent study published in the journal Hypertension, researchers recreated what happens in our gut when we eat spirulina. Eventually, they were able to identify the specific peptides our bodies absorb from the algae.
Next, they tested that peptide extract, called SP6, on animals with hypertension. And it wasn’t long before they realized they’d hit pay dirt. The peptides sent the animal’s blood pressure plummeting.
And we even know why it works.
Spirulina dilates blood vessels naturally
When your blood vessels constrict blood has a harder time flowing through them. This forces your heart to work harder. And all that extra effort causes your blood pressure to rise.
But it turns out SP6 is a natural vasodilator. Which means taking spirulina could help convert your blood vessels back into a wide open super-highway again, taking stress off your heart and sending your blood pressure south.
In other words, the algae provide some of the same benefits as blood pressure meds, but without the drug side effects.
More spirulina health benefits
If you’re battling high blood pressure, that alone is a good enough reason to have a chat with your doc about adding the supplement to your routine. But as I mentioned earlier spirulina brings other health benefits to the table too, including…
Spirulina is swimming in good-for-you nutrients. A single tablespoon of the algae packs in…
- 02 grams of protein
- 95 milligrams of potassium
- 14 milligrams of magnesium
- 8 milligrams of calcium
- 8 milligrams of phosphorous
- 2 milligrams of iron
- 7 milligrams of vitamin C
Plus the algae contains a handful of other valuable nutrients including niacin, thiamine, copper, folate, riboflavin, gamma linolenic acid, and vitamins B-6, D, A, and K making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can get your hands on. With a resume like that, it’s no wonder the astute Aztecs included it in their regular diet.
2. Better blood sugar:
Researchers crunched the numbers from 12 different trials on spirulina and found that the blue-green algae can significantly lower fasting blood sugars. Which means it could be helpful for folks with diabetes and anyone battling blood sugar problems.
3. Lower cholesterol:
In a study, folks taking one gram of spirulina a day saw significant improvements in their cholesterol levels after just three months. And in a meta-analysis published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, researchers poured through the data from seven different trials and found that the algae…
- significantly reduced total cholesterol
- lowered LDL or “bad” cholesterol
- increased HDL or “good” cholesterol
And unlike sickening statins, this natural approach doesn’t come with any significant side effects.
Spirulina powders and tablets are available online and in stores which sell supplements. You can stir the powder into soups, smoothies, or vegetable juices and it can be sprinkled onto salads.