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What Is Spirulina?

Spirulina: One of the Best Protein Sources You Probably Aren't Eating

If you're a little freaked out by the superfood spirulina, you're not alone. This algae, which is sold in powder form, has been a favorite of health nuts since the 1970s, and it's also what gives Naked and Odwalla smoothies that deep green hue. If the idea of eating the blue-green algae scares you, it's a great idea — especially if you're concerned about getting enough protein: just one tablespoon of spirulina offers four grams!

Amino acids make up 62 percent of spirulina, which make it a complete protein. It's also one of the few known plant sources of vitamin B12 (great for anyone who steers clear of animal products), and is also full of enzymes and probiotics that may help to enhance your immune system and digestive health. Preliminary studies have also linked spirulina consumption with a reduction in allergy symptoms and improved exercise performance.

If we're being honest, spirulina doesn't have the most pleasant flavor and can often overwhelm a recipe, but it's easy enough to mask the flavor by playing with proportions, or you can take it in pill form, avoiding the taste altogether. For a starter recipe using the good green stuff, blend it up in a not-too-sweet breakfast smoothie rock star Ellie Goulding loves to sip.

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Test tube and animal studies suggest spirulina may boost the immune system, help protect against allergic reactions, and have antiviral and anticancer properties. However, there is no proof that spirulina has these, or any, benefits in people. More research is needed.

Source: Spirulina | University of Maryland Medical Center http://umm.edu/health/medical/...
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