Trying to eat more greens? Check out the benefits of chlorella, a bright-green algae and concentrated source of nutritional goodness
Want to take advantage of the health benefits of green foods that we hear so much about? Chlorella just might be the answer. Its name comes from two Latin words: “chlor,” meaning green, and “ella,” meaning tiny. The exact composition varies depending on the brand, but it’s generally made up of about 60 percent protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, fiber, and chlorophyll.
What Is Chlorella?
A single-cell algae that grows in fresh water, chlorella has a rich emerald color that comes from its high levels of chlorophyll, a natural detoxifier. Although dense in nutrients, chlorella has tough cell walls, making it difficult for our digestive systems to handle. To solve the problem, supplement manufacturers break down the cell walls to make chlorella’s nutrients more bioavailable. (Look for “broken cell wall,” or “pulverized” on labels.)
Chlorella is used to enhance overall health as well as improving immune health; detoxifying metals and preventing metal toxicity; reducing immune suppression from cancer chemotherapy; improving digestion and relieving inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis; relieving PMS, bad breath, and constipation; lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels; improving skin health; and relieving asthma.
Chlorella Supplements Significantly Decrease Lifestyle Disease
Diabetes and heart disease are considered “lifestyle diseases,” because they’re largely driven by unhealthy habits. In Japan, researchers tested the effects of chlorella supplements on 17 people who were at high risk for such diseases. Published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the study found that chlorella supplements significantly decreased risk by reducing body fat, lowering cholesterol, and lowering levels of blood sugar. Researchers observed that chlorella improved the way genes are activated, leading to healthier metabolism.
Chlorella Supplements Kept Immune Function Normal During Cancer Treatment
Researchers in Virginia tested chlorella on 21 patients undergoing a treatment for brain tumors known to suppress immune function and, as a result, increase respiratory infections. The study, published in Phytotherapy Research, found that taking chlorella supplements kept immune function at near-normal levels and reduced respiratory and flu-like infections. In another study, researchers in Korea compared the effects of chlorella and a placebo on immunity of 51 healthy people, during an 8-week period of supplementation. They found that taking 5 grams of chlorella per day enhanced natural killer cells and other markers of improved immune function.
Energy Improvement and Decreased Pain with Chlorella Supplementation
People who take chlorella often report increased energy. In studies, day-to-day energy levels in healthy people are difficult to measure, but researchers have tested the effects of chlorella on fibromyalgia, where symptoms include extreme fatigue, as well as pain. Although the condition has no cure, chlorella has relieved symptoms for some people.
At Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, researchers gave chlorella to 18 people with fibromyalgia for two months. Tests showed an average pain reduction of 22 percent, although individual responses varied. Researchers concluded, “The results suggest that chlorella supplementation may help relieve the symptoms of fibromyalgia in some patients.” Those in the study received 10 grams of Sun Chlorella tablets and 100 mL of a more concentrated liquid chlorella supplement daily.
Reduced Blood Pressure While Taking Chlorella
Another study from Virginia Commonwealth University tested the same supplement regimen in a group of 24 people with moderately elevated blood pressure. Before taking the supplements, those in the study stopped taking blood pressure medications for four weeks.
After two months, 25 percent of participants reduced their blood pressure to healthy levels without medication. Among the others, blood pressure did not increase beyond their nonmedicated levels. All of the study participants felt that their overall health improved while taking chlorella.
How to Use Chlorella
Chlorella supplements come in tablet or liquid form, as well as in granules and powders that can be mixed with water, juice, smoothies, or salad dressings. It is commonly found in green-foods blends including powders and tablets. A typical dosage ranges from 2 to 6 grams. Chlorella is also available in topical creams for skin health, and in wafers for pets.
Research suggests chlorella supplementation may help relieve symptoms of fibromyalgia.
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