An algae that has its origins in the Moroccan islands and Mexico, spirulina is the wonder food that once sustained the Aztecs and Mesoamericans.
Published: 19th January 2022 01:13 AM | Last Updated: 19th January 2022 01:13 AM | A+ A A-
An algae that has its origins in the Moroccan islands and Mexico, spirulina is the wonder food that once sustained the Aztecs and Mesoamericans. Today, it is available in many parts of the world. Surprisingly, it seems to have found a sweet spot in the Indian cuisine as well, says Varsha Pramod, registered dietician and senior research fellow at JBAS College for Women.
"More than 40 dishes in India can be incorporated with the spirulina powder and the taste and texture are still good," she says.
Spirulina is a rich source of protein (76 per cent), particularly for a vegetarian-vegan diet. "If a vegetarian wants to consume a high-protein diet without any supplements, spirulina is a great source. Given that the carbohydrate (6 per cent) and lipid component (2 per cent) is low, it is an excellent choice for weight watchers and health enthusiasts. Also, it has 4-6 per cent of fibre. This again offers weight loss and cardiac benefits," she notes.
Spirulina is also a rich source of B complex vitamins and vitamin A, which is usually not found in high quantities in vegetarian food. It has a number of minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium - all of which are very good for bone health - and selenium that is good for many diseases.
"This contains a very high dose of anti-oxidants. It has been found that even just four grams of the powder can give a very high antioxidant capacity. This helps in increasing immunity," she elaborates.
Given that you need only small quantities of this algae in your diet, it is quite easy to incorporate. "In abroad, there is a culture of having spirulina in water as an early morning drink. You can go for the powder, capsule or tablet form. Even with cooking, there is not much of nutrient loss. You can even add it to your meat dishes, especially seafood. It can greatly enhance the taste, texture of the food; its bright green colour also adds to it," she says.
Spirulina's high potassium content may make it unsuitable for people with kidney problems or on dialysis. Pregnant and lactating women, those with autoimmune disorders or on immunosuppressants should not consume.
Contrary to popular misconception, spirulina is vegetarian food.
You should not overdo its intake; five-ten grams a day is sufficient.
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