There seems to be an ever growing list of so-called 'superfoods'. Some health experts cringe at the label as they think its a marketing gimmick, but the word does now exist in the dictionary and is defined as:
...a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person's health.
So there are such things as superfoods, but they are not just uber expensive, specialty foods like acai, goji berries, and wheat grass juice.
One superfood that has been around for a while is spirulina. In case you don't know, spirulina is blue green algae. Mmm! I remember my brother adding it to his smoothies 20 years ago, which is why I say its been around for a while. Its been available in health food stores here in North America for a long time.
What makes spirulina a superfood? Spirulina is is a rich plant source of numerous essential nutrients, particularly protein, B vitamins (thiamin and riboflavin), and dietary minerals, such as iron and manganese, as well as fatty acids, gamma-linolenic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, linoleic acid, stearidonic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid.
I have never actually purchased spirulina. I can't say why, except maybe its because I don't consume smoothies, and never thought about how else you might use it. So when Spiral Nutrition offered to send me their products to sample, I was curious and eager to give them a try.
They sent me all their products:
Spirulina Maxima 500 Balls (pills)
Spirulina Maxima powder
Spirulina Maxima Cocoa Blend powder (has cocoa and oat fibre added)
The company, based in Chile, provides the following description of their product, and what makes it superior to other spirulina:
Most of the Spirulina in the World is Spirulina platensis, which is not as complete as Spirulina Maxima in terms of content of protein, clorophyl and phycocyanin.
One size of Spirulina Maxima on daily basis provides nutrients, including B complex vitamins, beta-carotene, vitamin E, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid). Furthermore is the source of the easiest digestible natural protein.
We are privileged located at the Heart of Atacama Desert, one of the most pristine places on earth. That place is called La Pampa del Tamarugal; it is a huge valley surrounded by the Cordillera de los Andes by one side, and the Cordillera de la Costa from the other. So the most pure water comes all the way from the top of these mountains to our facility. And this is where our Spirulina grows, not only in the purest water, but also in the purest land.
It is important to mention that the Sun at the Atacama Desert is always illuminating. La Pampa del Tamarugal is a place free of rain and it is very hard to find a cloud day. That helps in a very unique way the Spirulina to grow, because it receives all its energy from sun Light.
Also the air is very important, because Spirulina turns CO2 into oxygen. In a place like ours CO2 comes only from trees and other plants that habit there, it is very pure, and that helps Spirulina to be of the highest quality.
The last issue is concerned to the purity of water. In some cases when Spirulina grows in polluted water, with heavy metals, it attracts all the dirt and the heavy metals. That way our Spirulina is always free from heavy metals and other toxins. In some farms for example, Spirulina is often polluted with bacteria and that is why they need to irradiate the product. The process of irradiation affects Spirulina a lot.
The company apparently uses ecofriendly for production and manufacturing and solar-power. The product is certified organic, Kosher, and non-GMO.
There is a lot of research backing up the nutrition provided by spirulina, but not much showing a direct link between consumption and health benefits. But I suspect this is the case with most superfoods on the market.
Adam, the smoothie eater (drinker?) tried them all in his breakfast smoothies. I was a bit worried he wouldn't like them as, particularly the Maxima powder, has a fishy smell. But he didn't notice any change in taste or smell of his smoothies. The only let down was the balls as they say they can be added to food, but they just stayed whole even after a long whirl in our Vitamix. Maybe better in hot liquids like soups where they will dissolve? You can also swallow or chew them like a supplement.
I have been adding the Maxima powder to my yogurt, fruit and oat bowls when I make them. I don't detect any taste at all and I like knowing I am getting an adding whack of nutrients.
I also added some to a Shirataki noodle stir-fry I made and similarly didn't find it affected the flavour. You can use the Cocoa Blend powder to bake with, so I plan to throw some in next time I make muffins or cookies.
You can purchase the products on their website for $30/half pound bag, which is pretty good since you only need a tsp a day, max.
Do I recommend these products? Absolutely. They are a great way to add plant protein and fatty acids to your diet, so particularly great for vegetarians/vegans.
Disclosure: I was sent the products to review but all opinions on this blog are my own.