The Aztecs had their ducks in a row.
Aside from being architectural luminaries, they can take credit for bringing chocolate, popcorn and the 365-day calendar to the New World (okay, with a little help from the Conquistadors). So what was up with all the blue-green algae they collected from the surface of lakes and ate right up? You can chalk that up to yet another smart move by the Aztecs.
Known as spirulina, blue-green algae has been used as a nutritious food source dating back to before the 16th century. It wasn’t until the 1970s that spirulina saw an awakening once again, now being doted as the superfood of the future. As one of the best sources of pre-digested proteins on the planet, the algae packs 60- to 70-percent protein, making it an ideal supplement for vegans and vegetarians.
Many studies suggest that spirulina supports a healthy immune and digestive system, powers us with energy, acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and is mighty good for the brain and heart.
Why We Love It
Here are a few reasons spirulina makes us swoom:
It gets us high on essential amino acids. The blue-green algae is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and L-Phenylalanine (PA). The latter supports your brain chemistry to improve communication between neurons and signals the release of a protein called cholecystokinin (CCK), which helps your body feel full. It’s also low in calories. Skinny bitches likey.
It’s loaded in minerals. Spirulina gives you a steady source of calcium, potassium, chromium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, selenium and zinc.
It protects from oxidative stress. Unlike most familiar antioxidants that act as scavengers of oxidant molecules, spirulina actually affects the major sources of oxidant stress by shutting them down.
How You Get It
To get your dose of spirulina, look for ready-made health bars, pre-made shakes, protein powders and baked goods from the health food store. You can also add a little spirulina powder to breakfast shakes and start your day off right. The powder tends to be the fastest-acting, but the capsule and tablet forms work their magic just as well. Smart small with a one-fourth teaspoon for the first few days, and slowly increase up to one teaspoon to help curb appetite and boost your energy.
Spirulina supplements can be purchased at your local health retailer. Here are some of my favorite brands:
Nutrex Hawaiian Spirulina. All-natural Spirulina multi-vitamin tablets fortified with folic acid, evening primrose oil and omega fatty acids. www.nutrex-hawaii.com
Now Foods Natural Spirulina. 100-percent pure, certified-organic, and pesticide and herbicide-free formula. www.iherb.com.
Planetary Herbals. Pure certified-organic Spirulina tablets. www.planetaryherbals.com
Meg Gotelli, BA CN, is a certified nutritionist with a BA in Holistic Wellness. Based in Los Angeles, she offers a personalized nutritional program for her clients using a lab-based hair analysis and evaluation of lifestyle and health goals. Meg provides cutting-edge nutritional information, advice and practical solutions at www.newstrition.com.