Blue Spirulina - What is it and why is it good for you?

You’ve probably seen this food trend dominating your social media feed - insanely vibrant ocean smoothie bowls, mermaid lattes and unicorn everything. Blue Spirulina is the magical ingredient that makes all these insta-worthy posts come to life.

What is Blue Spirulina?

It all starts with our faithful old friend, Green Spirulina (Spirulina platensis). Green Spirulina is a blue-green algae. The blue pigment comes from a phytochemical called phycocyanin. When phycocyanin is extracted from Green Spirulina, we simply call it Blue Spirulina which can be confusing! (and hard to figure out how to pronounce)

What are the benefits of Phycocyanin/Blue Spirulina?

Bright colours are a big indicator of high antioxidants and that is precisely what Phycocyanin is! Phycocyanin is a strong fighter against free radicals and preliminary research suggests that it may protect cells in the nervous system, liver, heart and kidneys. As oxidative stress increases inflammation, Phycocyanin is known to also have an anti-inflammatory effect in certain conditions. Research relating to other potential health benefits suggest that spirulina may also help to modulate the immune system and reduce cataracts.

 How is it different to Green Spirulina?

Naturally, both green and blue spirulina contain Phycocyanin, but this is where the similarities end. Because Green Spirulina is a whole food, it contains decent source of vitamins and minerals, is high in protein and therefore contains essential amino acids. It also has a reputation for being beneficial as an anti-inflammatory (perhaps due to the effects of phycocyanin), encouraging a healthy immune system, promoting heart health, reducing high cholesterol and so much more.

The biggest difference between Green and Blue Spirulina, aside from their radical colours, is the taste! Green Spirulina is a whole cell algae, so it tastes more than a smidge like… well… algae. Given that Blue Spirulina is an extract, the smell and flavour are much more neutral, making it easy to receive some of the benefits of spirulina without the fishy taste.

How do I use it?

Blue Spirulina powder has such a bright, electric blue colour that you can use as little as half a teaspoon to add vibrancy to any smoothie, bliss ball or sweet treat. The possibilities are really endless! 

 

References
Chen, HW, Yang, TS, Chen, MJ, Chang, YC, Chen Wang, EI, Ho, CL, Lai, YJ, Yu, CC, Chou, JC, Chao, LKP & Liao, PC 2014, ‘Purification and immunomodulating activity of C-phycocyanin from Spirulina platensis cultured using power plant flue gas’ Process Biochemistry vol. 49, no. 8, pp. 1137-1344.
 Finamore, A, Palmery, M, Bensehaila, S & Peluso, I 2017, ‘Antioxidant, immunomodulating and microbial modulating activities of the sustainable and ecofriendly spiurlina’, Oxidative Medicina and Cellular Longevity, vol. 2017, ID: 3247528.
 Karkos, PD, Leong, SC, Karkos, CD, Sivaji, N, Assimakopoulos, DA 2010, ‘Spirulina in clinical practice: evidence-based human applications’, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2011, ID: 531053.
 Liu, Q, Huang, Y, Zhang, R, Cai, T & Cai, Y 2016, ‘Medical application of Spirulina platensis derived Phycocyanin’, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2016, ID: 7803846.