Have you ever heard about Spirulina, the mother of all superfoods?
This nutrient-rich blue-green algae found in various parts of the world is fast becoming a popular addition to many diets, but what happens when you can’t find Spirulina and need a substitute?
With so many different alternatives available out there, from Chlorella to Wheatgrass powder, you may be feeling bewildered on where to start.
Here’s everything you need to know about how to use these substitutes for Spirulina and the 5 best alternatives available today.
What is Spirulina?
Spirulina is the common name for a range of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, that make up a large part of the Earths’s biomass, and can be found in many different environments — from rivers, lakes and oceans to shallow soil and hot springs.
Because of its high molecular weight protein content and array of micronutrients and vitamins, Spirulina has earned praise as one of the most nutritious dietary supplements on the market today.
Spirulina is often used in dietary supplements or meal replacement options because it contains all eight essential amino acids; those amino acids are crucial for maintaining good health since our bodies cannot produce them on their own.
It also contains a number of potent antioxidants, including beta-carotene and zeaxanthin, as well as iron for healthy red blood cell development.
Other important vitamins present in Spirulina include B1 (thiamine) B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine) B9 (folic acid), C (ascorbic acid) and E (tocopherol).
Additionally, spirulina contains chlorophyll to reduce inflammation; gamma-linolenic acid to maintain joint health; beta glucan to regulate blood glucose levels; high levels of protein; trace minerals such as magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, selenium iron and zinc; carotenoids such as lutein, lycopene phycocyanins; omega-3 fatty acids EPA DHA; phycocyanobilin to improve liver health; polysaccharides like starch cellulose dietary fiber to promote digestive health.
These factors make spirulina one of the best food sources available if you are looking for natural ways to supplement your diet — but given its harsh environment few places where spirulina exists naturally in large enough concentrations so that it needs harvesting there are plenty other great options available too.
The 5 BEST Substitutes for Spirulina
Because of its high nutrient profile, spirulina is a popular supplement among athletes and health-conscious individuals.
However, some people may not be able to take spirulina due to certain allergies or dietary restrictions.
In this article, we will discuss five of the best substitutes for spirulina.
1 – Chlorella
Chlorella is a single-celled green algae that grows in fresh water.
It’s a complete protein, which means it provides all essential amino acids that cannot be produced by the body.
It’s an excellent source of B vitamins, iron and magnesium, as well as omega-3 fatty acids.
A number of studies have linked its health benefits to reduced cholesterol levels, improved gut health and general immune system support.
Unlike spirulina, which is known for its blue-green color, chlorella has a distinctly green hue.
When purchasing chlorella supplements, be sure to look for ones that have been grown in purified water to help reduce the risk of contamination from heavy metals and other pollutants found in some freshwater sources.
2 – Moringa
Moringa is an incredibly nutritious and health-supportive green superfood.
It’s slightly different from spirulina in that it grows on trees, but it still contains a high concentration of beneficial nutrients.
Like spirulina, Moringa is rich in vitamin A, iron, magnesium, and amino acids and is known to boost energy levels, immune health and overall vitality.
Additionally, Moringa also contains significant doses of calcium and Vitamin C—along with all nine essential amino acids—making it one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
It has a mild taste that works well when added to smoothies or incorporated into other dishes such as stir fries or curries.
To create its powder form, the leaves are dried at low temperatures to retain their active enzymes before being ground into a fine powder.
3 – Barley Grass Powder
Barley grass powder is another substitute for spirulina, as it is packed full of nutritional benefits and can be used in a variety of recipes.
Barley grass powder contains high concentrations of potent antioxidants, essential amino acids, essential vitamins such as B1, B2, B12 and C.
As a substitute for spirulina, barley grass powder can provide the same health benefits and can even help improve digestion.
Barley grass powder also has anti-inflammatory properties so it can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.
It can be enjoyed as a dietary supplement or added to smoothies, shakes and other recipes.
4 – Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass is a nutrient-dense grass that grows in the early stages of wheat, and it contains 70% chlorophyll – which is beneficial for cell structure.
It has high concentrations of vitamins A, C and E, as well as minerals such as iron and calcium, and it also boosts immune health.
In addition to this, wheatgrass contains protein and enzymes that can improve digestion.
When used as a spirulina substitute in recipes or smoothies, wheatgrass adds a mild flavor with notes of herbs or hay.
Its flavor is more subtle than spirulina’s deep green taste.
To use it in recipes such as smoothies, juices or dressings they can be blended together with other ingredients until completely dissolved.
Alternatively you can buy wheatgrass powder which blends much faster into liquids.
Like spirulina, wheatgrass should be stored correctly – away from light or heat sources – but unlike spirulina it won’t last quite so long after opening when refrigerated; its shelf life is around one month if sealed properly in an airtight container kept in dry conditions away from direct sunlight or heat sources.
5 – Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds are one of the best substitutes for spirulina since they are high in protein and other nutrients.
These small seeds offer a pleasant nutty flavor and are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Hemp seeds can be used as a topping on salads, soups, and yogurts, or added to smoothies.
Clinical studies have also indicated that they may have beneficial benefits in reducing bad cholesterol levels as well as improving symptoms of certain skin conditions.
A quarter cup of hemp seeds contains 11 grams of plant-based protein and 9 grams of fiber.
In addition, hemp seeds are high in magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc, B-vitamins, and vitamins E and K.
It is clear that spirulina may not be the only option for green superfoods.
Man cannot survive on spirulina alone and there are plenty of other interesting alternatives to chose from.
Whether it is seaweed, nettle or algae, greens provide numerous beneficial nutrients and can help bolster one’s health.
Though some Alt-Green contenders may not replace Spirulina’s punchy taste, their amazing nutritional value should make them easier to swallow.
To dare is to do: don’t be afraid to survey this star-studded cast of greenringers that serve up a range of vitamins and minerals — in your smoothie or skillet — almost any day of the week.
Let’s take the plunge into these power-packed alternatives so we can have an even healthier tomorrow.