Spirulina & Chlorella: Is Algae the most sustainable food on the planet?
5 minute read
Algae-based foods could offer a sustainable solution to keeping us humans nourished with zero impact on the planet. This is so much so that algae has been named “food of the future” - but what makes it as good for the Earth as it is for us?
What is Algae?
Algae is an umbrella term for many different species of aquatic plants - such as seaweed. They thrive in both freshwater lakes & saltwater oceans and have a number of beneficial effects on the environment.
Over the past few decades research has shown that algae is also a nutrient-dense food that which provide many benefits for us humans too. So, algae-based foods and supplements are becoming increasingly popular for those who want to take care of themselves as well as the planet!
Also known as microalgae, algae can be sustainably and organically farmed to harness the goodness of algae in a format we can all enjoy everyday.
Algae is One of the Most Sustainable Foods on the Earth
What really sets algae apart in terms of sustainability is that it grows in aquatic environments - so it doesn’t need land to grow. Because of this, it doesn’t require gallons of water or intensive farming to be produced either. That is really good news for the planet as farming crops is one of the most damaging human activities for the environment.
Algae quite happily grows with zero human input and is available in endless supply from our oceans. Amazingly, it even grows independently in deserts. However, because it is so good for us and the environment, algae is now grown for commercial use on algae farms - the good news is that this is just as sustainable.
6 Amazing Ways Algae Can Help Save the Planet
The food of the future isn’t just about avoiding a negative impact on the planet, algae actually has a net positive impact on the environment. This amazing plant can help to remove pollutants, preserve land and even produce oxygen - as well as providing a sustainable source of nutrition. Here’s 6 great ways algae could help to save the planet.
1. Algae can be used as sustainable biofuel 🚀
Just like farming, transportation is another human activity which is taking its toll on the planet. So it’s amazing to know that algae could provide a sustainable source of energy to help mitigate this. The energy-rich oils found in algae can actually be used as biomass fuel, providing a renewable alternative to fossil fuels.
Another great fact about algae biofuel is that it only releases CO2 into the atmosphere which it has recently absorbed, compared with fossil fuels which release large amounts of CO2 whenever they are burned - one of the key contributors to climate change.
2. Algae farming uses less water than any other crop 💧
Algae grows in freshwater and saltwater environments, but doesn’t require a constant input of water. For example, gram for gram Spirulina uses just 2% of the water required to produce the same amount of protein compared with beef. In fact, once algae has been farmed, the water it was grown in can even be recycled to accelerate the growth of further algal blooms - with zero waste!
3. Algae produces 200 times more protein than cattle 🐄
Algae is incredibly nutrient-dense, which means that a little goes a long way and just a small amount of algae-based foods can provide a big nutrient boost. Studies have shown that per acre, algae such as Spirulina can produce 200 times more protein compared with cattle farming.
Of course, it’s great that algae is a sustainable and ethical choice - but this just goes to show that it’s also as good as, if not better than, animal-based foods in terms of nutritional value.
4. Algae produces most of the air that we breathe 🌱
Like most plants, algae uses photosynthesis to convert light from the sun into energy. During this process, algae absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and uses photosynthesis to produce oxygen.
The amount of oxygen produced by algae isn’t just a tiny percentage either - research has shown that on a global scale algae produces 75% of the oxygen used by animals and humans.
5. Algae preserves our precious land 🌎
A major obstacle to our future is that there is not enough land to feed the growing human population, which is understandably a huge concern.
Algae doesn’t need land to grow - just water. So, it also doesn’t need fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides or intensive farming.
It’s also incredibly efficient to grow algae - with algae farms yielding 10-12 crops per year compared with just 1 crop as with corn and soy farming.
6. Algae can help to reduce the impact of fishing on the planet 🎣
Did you know that fish get their high Omega-3 content from the algae they eat? It is actually the algae which is high in Omega-3, rather than the fish being a natural source. We know, mind...blown.
This means that for decades many of us have been taking a daily fish oil supplement to obtain the benefits of Omega-3, when really we could’ve bypassed the middle man and got it straight from its source - algae.
By switching to algae as a source of Omega-3, we can help to reduce the demand for fish oil. This is really important as the fish oil industry comes hand in hand with huge problems for our oceans such as overfishing, dead zones, by-catch, contamination and pollution.
Spirulina & Chlorella Nutrition 🧐
Algae is just as good for us as it is for the planet, so getting behind algae products is a win-win situation. Food and supplements made with algae, such as Chlorella and Spirulina, are a great source of the following nutrients:
- Protein - Spirulina & Chlorella are a complete source of plant-based protein - providing all of the essential amino acids
Fibre - Algae contains a high proportion of soluble fibre which is great for gut health
Essential Fatty Acids - Naturally rich in plant-based Omega-3 fats including DHA & EPA- lipids which are essential for heart, brain, eye and immune health
Vitamins - Spirulina & Chlorella are a great sources of Vitamins A, C and E, as well as some of the B Vitamins - including B12 which is hard to come by with a vegan diet
- Minerals - Including manganese, iodine, sodium, calcium, iron and copper
- Antioxidants - Rich source of antioxidants and other beneficial plant compounds such as chlorophyll and carotene.
You can get all of these amazing nutrients and benefits from food sources such as dried seaweed, as well as nutritional powders and supplements made from algae.
In the western world where seaweed is less commonly consumed, most people opt to get their algal benefits from dietary supplements such as powdered Spirulina and Chlorella.
Health Benefits of Spirulina & Chlorella Supplements 🌱
The nutritional benefits of spirulina and chlorella mean that consuming food products which include these ingredients can have a positive impact on your health. Here are just some of the benefits of eating spirulina and chlorella.
High Protein & Nutrient Dense - Spirulina and chlorella provide a good source of protein in a very small, package - perfect for boosting the protein intake of vegan and vegetarian diets and helping to avoid protein deficiency. This is so much so that spirulina has actually been used by Nasa as a food supplement to keep astronauts optimally fuelled on out of space missions - amazing!
Heart, Brain & Eye Health - As a rich source of the Omega-3 fats DHA & EPA, spirulina and chlorella can help to support normal eyesight, a healthy heart and optimal brain function.
- Immune System - Studies have shown that spirulina and chlorella consumption helps to increase the level of antioxidants in our bloodstream, helping to boost the immune system and protect our bodies from damage.
Our Superfoods: Good for you, good for the planet! 🌱
In recent years it has become more apparent that we need to shake up the food chain to protect Earth's precious ecosystems and stop the escalation of huge climate change problems like global warming.
Utilising more sustainable ingredients in the food industry such as spirulina and chlorella is a great way to look after the planet, as well as protect food security.
You can find nutrient-dense and planet friendly Spirulina & Chlorella in our Clean Greens superfood blend. We use only certified Organic and non-GMO Spirulina & Chlorella in our Clean Greens. It is sustainably sourced and batch tested for quality and purity here in the UK.
Clean Greens is our blend of 8 superfoods, including Organic Spirulina & Chlorella - created to give you your daily greens in one serving. Adding a teaspoon to your usual healthy meals and drinks is a great way to enjoy the benefits of spirulina and chlorella everyday.
About algae and cyanobacteria https://www.algaeparc.com/about-algea
Algae planet https://algaeplanet.com
How algae could sustainably reduce the carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere https://phys.org/news/2018-11-algae-sustainably-carbon-dioxide-atmosphere.html
Important Determinants for Fucoidan Bioactivity: Report https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3210621/
Characteristics and nutritional and cardiovascular-health properties of seaweeds: Report https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19459725/