Chlorella vs. Spirulina: Which Is the Best?

In this new age of superfoods, a lot of people are touting their favorites. Many claim their favorite superfood is better than other people’s favorite superfoods. But here are the two superfoods that are most often pitted against each other: chlorella vs. spirulina.

I know, I know. I can sense your confusion. Aren’t they more or less the same? Well, yes, sort of.

Read on to find out more about these two superfoods.

Chlorella vs. Spirulina: The Similarities

Well, for one, they both tout shades of green. They’re both algaes.

They are both complete sources of protein, are high in B vitamins, and contain cleansing and detoxifying capabilities. They are both available in either pill form or powder form.

Also, both products are relatively cheap and easily available.

And finally, they both have plenty of benefits for the human body.

Chlorella vs. Spirulina: The Differences

Chlorella has a spherical shape and is a single-celled microorganism with its own nucleus. On the other hand, spirulina is a spiral-shaped multi-celled plant without a true nucleus.

To be more specific with their color, chlorella is a green algae, while spirulina boasts of a more blue-green color. Chlorella’s pure green hue means that it contains more chlorophyll as compared to spirulina.

These two algae are also different in terms of their growing conditions. Spirulina thrives in low-alkaline waters, like freshwater ponds, rivers, and lakes. Also, it’s best grown in moderate temperatures and should be exposed to plenty of sunshine in order to grow.

Though chlorella is also grown in freshwater conditions, it is more difficult to harvest because of the other organisms that occupy the water.

The preparation of the two is also different. Because chlorella is difficult to digest, it has to undergo a proper processing procedure before it is acceptable for the human digestive system to take it. This process is expensive, and this makes chlorella more costly to process as compared to spirulina.

Another difference is that chlorella possesses a special complex called chlorella growth factor. Chlorella also has the ability to quadruple in numbers every 20-24 hours, and this special ability makes chlorella able to repair damages in the nerve tissues and help in cell production.

Spirulina has been in existence longer than chlorella. Spirulina is thousands of years older than chlorella and can be up to 10 times larger.

Nutritional Differences

One more difference is that spirulina is easier to digest than chlorella. Chlorella has tough exterior cellular walls, and this is what makes it difficult to take in. Spirulina, on the other hand, is composed of mucopolysaccharides instead of indigestible cellulose. This is easily broken down by the human digestive system.  

Based on nutrient content, many studies show that spirulina is healthier than chlorella. It has a higher amount of essential amino acids, protein, and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C D, and E. Also, spirulina has larger doses of calcium, iron, potassium, and zinc. And on top of that, spirulina is the best source of gamma-linolenic acid.

The World Health Organization uses spirulina in its feeding programs for malnourished children in undeveloped countries. FYI, just a one-gram dose of spirulina every day can counteract vitamin A deficiency that can lead to blindness.

Chlorella vs. Spirulina: The Benefits

When it comes to the benefits that both algae can provide to the human body, they more or less have similar health benefits. Let’s go ahead and discuss some of them.

Helps with Weight Loss

Both types of algae do their share when it comes to dropping those extra pounds. Chlorella helps with metabolism and regulating hormones. It also reduces body fat percentage, fasting blood sugar levels, and serum total cholesterol.

In spirulina’s case, it slows down the digestion process, alleviates your appetite, and makes you feel less hungry. Spirulina absorbs fat from the food that you take. This algae also helps in filtering the food that you eat, making sure your body only absorbs the essential nutrients.

Reduces Cholesterol

Chlorella and spirulina can both lower cholesterol levels. A study in the Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology showed that the regular consumption of spirulina decreases LDL cholesterol levels by up to 41%.

Another study found in the Journal of Medicinal Food shows that 8,000 milligrams of chlorella daily can noticeably decrease cholesterol.

Detoxifies Heavy Metals

Both spirulina and chlorella are effective in cleansing our systems from heavy metals and toxins like lead, cadmium, uranium, arsenic, and mercury. There are plenty of studies that show how both algae can decrease the amount of heavy metals and toxins from the body.

Combats Cancer

Spirulina reduces the amount of human pancreatic cancer cell lines significantly. Chlorella also helps fight cancer by strengthening the immune system and improving the production of T-cells to help fight cancer cells.

Aids in Liver Health

In a 2013 study, researchers showed that regular consumption of chlorella significantly lowers aminotransferase liver enzyme levels in patients with hepatitis C.

Another study in the same year also shows the positive effects of spirulina on inflammation and oxidative stress. This contributes to the prevention of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Chlorella vs. Spirulina: So Which One Should I Choose?

Well, that’s a relatively easy answer. Why choose when you can have both?

That’s right, with these two helpful algae, there’s no such thing as spirulina vs. chlorella or chlorella vs. spirulina. Taking them both in ensures that you’re getting a very high number of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients!

However, if you’re looking for algae that’s strictly for cleansing and rebuilding the blood or immune system, then chlorella is for you.

If you need something that still detoxifies and cleanses, but with higher amounts of vitamin B12, iron, and protein, then spirulina is your answer.

Another option is you can use both algae alternately. For example, you can add spirulina to your water on one day, then use chlorella in your smoothie on the next day.

Kate B. Forsyth is a writer for Be Healthy Today, who specializes in health and nutrition. Her passion is to help people get an overall transformation of health that lasts a lifetime. In her blog posts, she goes beyond research by providing health-concerned citizens doable and simple tricks to achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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