You may have heard about Blue Spirulina as a new superfood or seen an Instagram post of a vivid blue drink with a caption about “Blue Majik”. But what is Blue Spirulina & what is Blue Majik anyway? Where does it come from? How does it compare to regular green Spirulina? And what are some benefits to it? Also, I’m going to show you how to use it and some good Blue Spirulina recipes and Blue Spirulina smoothie ideas.
We’re going to jump into some of these topics below.
What is Blue Spirulina?
Spirulina is a certain type of blue-green algae. Blue-green algae are several species of bacteria that grow in fresh water lakes, ponds, streams and in saltwater. Although often referred to as algae, blue-green algae are not algae at all, they are types of bacteria called cyanobacteria. Countries in Africa and Mexico have used them for hundreds of years as food, so they have shown a history of being safe. The Aztecs are believed to have used it in the 16th century, harvesting it from Lake Texcoco. And it may date back over a thousand years to Chad in the 9th century where communities have harvested it from the shores of Lake Chad. Although these algae are found in nature, some are grown in controlled environments, which actually reduces some of the contaminants that might be found in them otherwise.
So that’s where Green Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis) comes from. Spirulina is very high in protein and antioxidants as well as having some B vitamins and Vitamin A, C, D, E and K. The Intergovernmental Institution for the Use of Micro-Algae Spirulina Against Malnutrition (IIMSAM) recommends Spirulina in the fight against global malnutrition and the World Health Organization (WHO) has supported it, calling it “best food for the future” to combat malnutrition, especially in kids. It’s high in iron and plant based protein with 18 of 22 amino acids including all nine essential amino acids and can be safely administered to kids. It’s even been called one of the most nutritionally dense foods in the world. But I think that is not entirely true if you look at the nutritional breakdown. Pound for pound this might be true, but you would have to consume lots of it to get the same amount of these nutrients as you can get elsewhere. The real benefits lie in the antioxidants and other qualities, that we will look at later.
Nasa has approved of Spirulina as a space food due to its nutrient density and ability to be grown in space. I’ve seen that one gram of it has the same nutrient density as 1000 grams of various fruits and vegetables, but I haven’t been able to verify that yet.
Blue Spirulina is made directly from Green Spirulina. A blue colored phytochemical called phycocyanin is extracted from the green spirulina, and the result is a powder sold as Blue Spirulina. (One of the names for this being Blue Majik powder) Remember that Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae. Regular Spirulina looks mostly green, but it has a hint of blue to it as well. That slight blue color is caused by the phycocyanin. So the Blue Spirulina is just the blue part of the spirulina (the phycocyanin) extracted out and sold by itself as Blue Spirulina powder. A lot of times bright colors can be an indicator of antioxidants, and with Blue Spirulina that’s what we get. A high dose of the antioxidant that’s found in regular spirulina.
Blue Spirulina vs Green Spirulina
What’s the difference between spirulina and blue spirulina? Well, blue spirulina comes directly from green spirulina as an extract. So green spirulina is more in the whole form and natural state. Because Green Spirulina is in a more whole form, it contains more nutrients such as vitamins and proteins and other antioxidants and phytonutrients, as well as the antioxidant phycocyanin. Think of it like eating an orange in its whole form, versus extracting the vitamin C to take by itself. One argument for green spirulina being better, is that foods are known to work better synergistically and as a whole, rather than taking each part individually. So, taking the blue spirulina is a little like taking the extracted vitamin C. It’s still a good thing, but probably not as good as eating the whole orange which already has the vitamin C, and getting all the additional nutrients and synergistic effect from it. (See WFPBD Ultimate Guide for why it’s better to eat plants and food in their whole form.)
But blue spirulina might be an even better thing than green spirulina for this reason. One of the main benefits of regular green spirulina is it’s super high antioxidant levels. It is thought to fight inflammation (anti-inflammatory) as well as free radicals, due to it’s high levels of antioxidants. Studies and research have shown that Spirulina may have anti-cancer benefits. Due to it’s high antioxidant levels and prevention of inflammation, it’s thought to fight cancer as well as other diseases. Research on animals has shown it can shrink tumors and reduce cancer occurrences. Also, there have been positive effects against mouth and oral cancer when studied on patients in India, compared to a control group. Those studies are found here and here.
Basically, the main antioxidant at work in Green Spirulina, which is fighting all these diseases, is phycocyanin (blue spirulina). (In fact, Spirulina alone has 280% more antioxidants than blueberries, already a high antioxidant food.) So when the blue spirulina is extracted, now it is a much higher concentration of the antioxidant, the main disease fighting agent. So in this sense, you might be getting much more of the healthy impact of green spirulina when you take blue spirulina. The antioxidant concentration would be much higher in blue spirulina. There are no studies I have found to compare green vs. blue spirulina. If I do find any, I will update this in the future. If anyone should know of any, please leave a comment or contact me.
One of the further benefits of blue spirulina over green, is the taste. For many, they don’t like the taste of green spirulina and it reminds them of a fish tank, even the smell. Remember, it comes from freshwater sources such as ponds! You can read more about the Spirulina taste at What Does Spirulina Taste Like?
One final thing to consider though is cost. Blue spirulina is much more expensive ounce for ounce compared to regular spirulina. At the time of this writing, on Amazon, blue spirulina is 10 times the cost of green spirulina. So even though you can get a higher concentration of antioxidants in the blue powder form, I don’t see it being worth it since you could get the same amount of antioxidants (just by consuming more of it), plus all the extra benefits of regular spirulina, for the same price or less. The only reason I see going for the blue spirulina over green, is if you really don’t like the taste, you are looking for natural blue food coloring, or you don’t really care about price.
What Does Blue Spirulina Taste Like?
Because Green Spirulina is the whole form of blue-green algae, Green Spirulina tastes a lot like algae and has a strong fishy taste and flavor. But since Blue Spirulina is extracted, Blue Spirulina has a very neutral taste. This might be much preferable to someone who doesn’t like the stronger taste of regular spirulina. With Blue Spirulina you can get some of the spirulina benefits, while having a very neutral and flavorless taste. So basically, Blue Spirulina has very little taste or just tastes like nothing at all.
Blue Spirulina Benefits
What is Blue Spirulina good for? Blue Spirulina is good for many things and carries many benefits. Since green spirulina and blue spirulina are closely related, we’ll look at the benefits that could be applied to blue spirulina. Since it’s mostly green spirulina that has been studied, we’ll apply the antioxidant benefits to blue spirulina, since it is the antioxidant. These antioxidants are the reason for its success against tumors and cancers as mentioned earlier and other inflammatory conditions.
Your body goes through a process of oxidation, which produces compounds that can damage your cells and tissues including protein structures, cell membranes and even DNA. Inflammation and oxidation can increase the risk of developing chronic diseases including cancer. Antioxidants help to fight against this process and some of them can come from our food sources. Inflammation creates more oxidation, and more oxidation then creates more inflammation. So it’s a cycle that needs to be stopped if possible. That’s where our nutrition and healthy food sources come in to work and can help.
Spirulina’s most powerful antioxidant is phycocyanin as mentioned earlier. This is what blue spirulina is. The pure phycocyanin antioxidant. (So the health benefits for spirulina will be very much the same as phycocyanin health benefits. And since it’s also blue-green algae, blue green algae benefits will be the same as well). Both blue and green spirulina also have lots of phytonutrients as well. You can find out more about phytonutrients here. These phytonutrients that spirulina contains are phenols, flavonoids and polysaccharides. Just know that these phytonutrients contribute to spirulina’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. The polysaccharides found in spirulina give it it’s immune enhancing properties.
Spirulina can also increase the activity and number of microphages. These are white blood cells which can eat up pathogens and early cancer cells. Link Another benefit of blue-green algae (Spirulina) is that it increases the activity of natural hunter cells which attack viruses and tumors. It also protects cells of the immune system from damage and toxins. Study Study Study
Spirulina can lower total cholesterol, “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. In this study and this study patients had positive impacts on cholesterol after taking Spirulina. This can lead to a lower risk of heart disease. Furthermore, “bad” LDL cholesterol can become oxidized in the body, further leading to heart disease. Spirulina was found in studies to significantly reduce this oxidative damage, due to its antioxidants.
As noted earlier, Spirulina has been found to have anti-cancer properties and also to fight against tumors.
If you are someone who struggles with high blood pressure, Spirulina was found to lower blood pressure in individuals who were taking 4.5 grams per day. Study Study This is thought to be because of an increased production of nitric oxide in the blood, helping blood vessels to relax. Also, the diastolic pressure is considered to be the more important reading for blood pressure, and it was found drastically reduced in those taking Spirulina.
As far as brain health, Spirulina has been shown to protect brain cells against damage. It has been shown to have protective effects against dementia. This is because dementia is a result of oxidative damage. Antioxidant rich foods such as Spirulina help to combat this damage.
Spirulina was found to also help liver health by lowering inflammation. A study on humans helped show it reduced symptoms of fatty liver disease.
If you are someone who suffers from allergies or asthma, Spirulina was found to help allergy suffers by lessening allergy symptoms. Spirulina suppresses the creation of Th2 cells, which contribute to inflammation. One researcher of a study wrote, “Spirulina is clinically effective on allergic rhinitis when compared with placebo.”
For those who might have anemia, Spirulina might prove to be a help as well. In this study of older individuals with anemia, Spirulina supplementation was able to increase hemoglobin content of red blood cells and improve the immune system.
If you are an athlete, Spirulina might give you a boost by increasing endurance and greatly increasing the time it takes till fatigue. Men who were used to jogging were able to sprint longer periods of time before fatiguing. It might be beneficial since exercise increases oxidative damage, leading to muscle fatigue, and Spirulina can help against this with its high antioxidant level.
Also, Spirulina has proven effective for lowering blood sugar levels in animals. One study on humans proved effective as well for lowering blood sugar levels a good amount. A meta-analysis found that it was good at lowering fasting blood sugar and studies show it may improve insulin sensitivity.
One final benefit is the idea that phycocyanin (Blue Spirulina) can bind with heavy metals in the body and help remove them. One study showed that Spirulina might be beneficial for those with high arsenic levels.
Are you impressed with all of these benefits? No wonder it’s called a superfood. Spirulina has been shown to reduce risk of cancers, lower the risk of heart disease, lower blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, fight anemia, improve blood lipid levels, improve athletic performance, protect the liver and more. With all of these benefits it makes me want to find my old bottle of Spirulina and start taking it again.
Here’s a quick list of all the benefits of spirulina we just covered.
- Fights free radicals in the body
- Improves the immune system
- Lower cholesterol
- Can lower blood pressure
- Anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties
- Improve and protect the brain
- Improve liver health
- Help with anemia
- Improve athletic performance, especially for endurance athletes
- Lower blood sugar levels
- Remove heavy metals from the body
- Joint health
- Improve inflammation
What is Blue Majik?
The first company to release blue spirulina was E3Live. They called the powder, Blue Majik. (Or maybe you searched for “Blue Magic”) It’s also used by some as a natural food dye, due to the vivid blue color of the phycocyanin. Also, it’s popular on Instagram posts for the bright blue color that it gives to food and drinks it’s mixed into. You can also find E3Live Blue Majik being used in smoothie recipes and other health drinks. Since it is tasteless it doesn’t affect the flavor, and gives it a nice boost of healthy antioxidants as well as vibrant blue color. The E3 Live Blue Majik benefits will be the same as the health benefits for blue spirulina mentioned above, since they are both the same.
Where To Buy Blue Spirulina Powder?
Blue Spirulina Amazon
You can pick up Blue Spirulina in powder form fairly easily nowadays from Amazon. By doing a search I was able to find a couple of sellers, although the quality is probably unregulated. I would check the reviews at least, or go for a more reputable brand.
The average cost on Amazon tends to be about $15-$20 per ounce as of this writing. The only form it is available in is powder form as well. I’ve seen it in both organic and regular varieties. It’s hard to say which is the best blue spirulina to get, but I assume that the use of pesticides is not an issue with Spirulina growth, so I’m sure you would be fine with a regular version. You can also find the original E3Live Blue Majik Spirulina on their website. But I was able to find some of it cheaper on Amazon, sold by E3Live.
Unicorn Superfoods has a blue spirulina powder, but they are an Australian company. So unless you live in Australia, you may have to pay extra for international shipping unless you place a big enough order to get free shipping.
You could also find blue spirulina near you by visiting your local health food store. I assume that most would carry it. If you shop at Whole Foods, I haven’t seen the blue spirulina available, but Whole Foods does sell the regular green Spirulina. Also, at this time Walmart does not seem to have blue spirulina as well, but they do carry green spirulina.
You might also find it for sale under the name phycocyanin powder, since technically that’s what it is.
Blue Spirulina Recipes
What can you do with blue spirulina or Blue Majik in recipes? Well, for starters you could just place about 1 teaspoon into your favorite drink, to add nutritional value as well as spunky blue color! You could also add 1 teaspoon into any light-colored foods. But don’t bake above 150 degrees Fahrenheit as this will cause the color to lose its vibrancy. Also, I don’t know if heat might destroy the nutritional value, but it’s very much possible, so I would further avoid baking anything with it.
Here are a ton of Blue Spirulina Recipes for you to check out.
Blue Spirulina Smoothie
You could add blue spirulina to pretty much any smoothie recipe. And since it doesn’t have a flavor it wouldn’t affect the taste and would add to the nutritional value. If you are looking to make a Blue Smoothie with the blue flavor you might need to have a specific recipe that will allow the blue color to come out.
Blue Spirulina Smoothie Bowl
Here’s an idea for a colorful smoothie bowl:
Blend together 1-2 tsp of blue spirulina powder, 2 frozen bananas, 1/2 cup of nut milk and any additional fruit.
Blue Spirulina at Jamba Juice
If you visit a Jamba Juice, the Vanilla Blue Sky Smoothie does contain their Blue Spirulina Boost.
Is Spirulina Safe?
Spirulina has been found to be largely safe for most people. Link
Although regular Spirulina has been found fairly safe and regarded as a health food, blue spirulina has not been tested long term.
So there you have it. Blue spirulina seems to carry tons of benefits, and so does regular spirulina. I do think I have a renewed interest for regular spirulina and all its benefits after writing this and may consider the blue variety down the road. My question I still have is if Spirulina and all its benefits can be gained from just eating a whole food plant based diet with lots of other healthy foods? Is it only something that benefits much more for those not on a healthy diet, since they are not getting a lot of antioxidants from other foods? Or does someone who is eating a very healthy diet still gain from the special benefits that spirulina has above other healthy foods? These are questions I still have.
Do you have experience with blue spirulina or do you like to use it? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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