Chlorella vs Spirulina

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Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby Ombah » Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:06 pm

So what's the difference between chlorella and spirulina?
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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby Catt Queen » Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:25 pm

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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby beforewisdom » Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:28 pm

I've read several people on this board and another board, that they have gotten sick off of using chlorella. It is something that needs to be handled with care and often isn't.

The marketing for spirulina is that it is a high quality protein ( the marketing for chlorella says this too ) and has b-12. It does have protein, but nothing better than you would get from legumes at less the price. Spirulina doesn't have b-12, just chemicals that look like b-12 and that actually block real b-12 you would get form elsewhere doing its job.

If you want a "protein powder" that is also a natural food and has nutrients other than protein I would recommend brewers yeast. It has a lot of protein, a ton of iron, loads of b vitamins and a boat load of minerals. It tastes nasty though as it is a byproduct of the beer industry. However, the brand "Lewis Laboratories" grows brewers yeast for direct human consumption off of beets, so it tastes decent and has a little more nutrition.

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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby jpowell » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:37 am

Actually, marketing for spirulina being what it may (often over-hyped in several ways for sure although from what I've seen, the false claims about B12 and DHA in spirulina more often come from raw vegan activist weirdos than from companies selling the products, that may be an over-generalization, it's just my impression).... Marketing for chlorella is quite similar, but then they seem to have quite a few nutritional similarities, in the same ways as, say, broccoli and spinach might. Both are green vegetables, but they are not the same.

There are some clear benefits/use cases to consuming both....

* According to the chemical analysis I could find, spirulina protein contains a very slightly higher lysine percentage than most legumes. I'm sure you would agree this is both rare and valuable for vegans. Yes, it is much more expensive per unit protein than say split peas, lentils or peanuts, but the whole food is 65% protein, almost comparable to many protein supplements, not at all comparable to whole legumes. The price point per unit protein is only a little higher than pea protein isolate, but the other 35% contains a lot of highly concentrated good nutrients. This is not a case for everyone eating spirulina or anyone basing their entire diet around it, but surely a case to strongly consider using some if you're after a mineral and antioxidant rich high lysine diet (most athletes?).

* Spirulina is incredibly rich in iron (much more densely so than lentils or most green veges), and doesn't contain phytic acid that might slightly inhibit the iron absorption from lentils. Since a common way to consume spirulina is by mixing it with fruit juice, that's an easy way to get iron and vitamin C together.

* Spirulina is extremely high in a range of carotenoids. These are a whole class fat soluble nutrients (red through yellow pigments) that not only serve as THE source of vitamin A in vegans but also provide potent, actually absorbed antioxidants (with some of the high ORAC foods, it's questionable how much of the antioxidants, especially polyphenols are actually absorbed... they may still be useful, but from what I can tell, far less so relatively than what it looks like in the lab. There seems to be a pattern of in vivo studies being less promising than in vitro studies, which is not true of carotenoids). Unlike Vitamin A supplements or fully formed vitamin A from eating other animals, they are not toxic if you consume a little bit over your needs, your body simply won't convert any more of them to vitamin A than what it requires. Other vegetables (carrots, pumpkins, most green vegetables, tomatos and capsicums (lycopene)), also contain carotenoids, but I think you'll find the range of carotenoids, as well as the concentration, is superior in the algae. In particular, alpha carotene is quite probably more potent than beta carotene Red palm fruit oil is another very good even more concentrated source of carotenoids.

* Spirulina is extremely high in chlorophyll (just look at it's dark green colour). This may also have antioxidant benefits (actually I am skeptical, but since I can't find a downside to consuming the green foods anyway, and there are other advantages, it doesn't hurt).

* Spirulina typically has a pretty good Magnesium content, which arguably most people (not especially vegans) are at some risk of deficiency and which is arguably an extremely important nutrient for athletes with (controversial but credible) benefits ranging from neuromuscular performance/reactions to hormonal optimization to slightly greater power to weight (Mg is lighter than Ca and partly interchangeable for some bodily functions). In general, Magnesium content is more likely to be reliable in aquatic based products (seaweed and algae) than in land grown vegetables, where it depends partly on availability in the soil.

* Chlorella is I think similar on most of these points but I know less about it. From memory, I think you might find a key difference in the Zinc content (higher), and possibly less Mg content.


Disclaimers: I am not an expert on spirulina, or even on nutrition. I don't sell it. I do buy it. I am constantly reviewing my nutrition, have read, thought and questioned quite a bit by now on the subject and try to consider but question/check at least most claims, and my nutrition pattern has reached something fairly stable that I am confident really supports my performance. I only eat 10-20g per day of spirulina and I am considering adding or substituting some chlorella.


Brewers yeast is also good in moderation. I have some and I hate the taste, except a little bit mixed in Miso soup, which I find actually improves the taste of the miso somehow. It has a very high B vitamin concentration, hence the strong need for moderation. I think some of the B vitamins are added ingredients (certainly looks that way on the packaging for mine!) It may have some good minerals too, but I strongly doubt it delivers the same key benefits as algae in this area. In this sense it is sort of a hybrid between food and supplement.
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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby Goob » Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:15 pm

Both taste like ass, eat kale instead.
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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby tal » Wed Jun 27, 2012 1:52 pm

[quote="Goob"]Both taste like ass, eat kale instead.


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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby jpowell » Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:22 am

We could have an endless debate about which tastes worst of the 3, raw kale juice, brewers yeast, chlorella or spirulina by itself in water. Also, all 4 are reasonably expensive, especially kale, spirulina and chlorella, so not good primary sources of protein for most of us. Brewers yeast is definitely not a good primary source of protein due to the low lysine content and very high B vitamin content.

However, kale is nutritious and tasty (anyone who wants ways to eat it can find them in the kale thread). So are some other green vegetables, some at least as much so.

If you want the extra nutritional benefits of spirulina as well, you can try it say in 400ml of orange, pineapple, lemon, carrot, beetroot, celery, cucumber, capsicum, chilli or ginger juice (WHATEVER combination you like or have available), then it CAN TASTE GREAT AND offer SUPERIOR NUTRITION (even either/or is of some interest). You can even add sugar if you want, or apple, pear or agave for extra fructose to rot your liver with, if you can somehow persuade yourself there's a health or performance benefit to doing so, or you have unlimited cravings for sickly sweet tastes.

By the way, adding spirulina to juice is not only probably much more nutritious than the "green smoothies" some people make with vegetables, but also a whole lot easier than juicing soft fibrous green vegetables, at least in a cheap generic brand juicer. Heck, you can even try it without a juicer, just with some crappy UHT juice from the supermarket: stir briskly with a fork or blend for 2 seconds.
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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby jpowell » Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:43 am

Nettles, chrysanthemum leaves, capsicum leaves, watercress, mustard leaves (another brassica), cauliflower leaves (brassica), broccolini (the dark green broccoli shoots), Asian greens (brassicas), parsley, celery, possibly some types of lettuce, most types of edible seaweed (wakame is widely available and has a mild pleasant flavour, just add boiling water, drain after 5min and add your favourite seasonings to make a great seaweed salad), any type of chard or spinach (silver beet may be amongst the best value to buy)... are just a few highly nutrient rich green veges to expand beyond kale. Also, okra (technically a fruit, but only in the same sense as eggplants or capsicums are) and, apparently, sweet potato leaves, are good (I haven't tried them but sweet potatoes are ridiculously easy to grow if you have any garden space in a warm, humid climate, and they are a very rich dark green).

Some of these REQUIRE cooking for health/safety and, in my opinion, all except parsley taste best at various degrees of lightly cooked, not raw and not too heavily cooked. Celery stalks are also maybe better juiced, as they are high in fibre and water.

Also, with most of these, there is probably a limit to how much is actually safe/healthy, which may vary from person to person, but by eating a wider range you can eat more nutrient dense foods in total, with less risk/difficulty. Also, by using a wide range, you have options when, as is often the case with some of these, including kale, some of them are not available, out of season or are too expensive.
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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby Ombah » Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:00 am

I'm not wondering about if there is any better than the algaes, I was just wondering about the differences. I've seen that a lot of people use kale in their smoothies but kale is almost impossible to find in Swedish stores when it's not December.
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Re: Chlorella vs Spirulina

Postby ColleenE » Sat Jun 30, 2012 1:15 pm

From livestrong.

Chlorella is a type of green algae that grows in fresh water, while spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in saltwater lakes in Mexico and Africa.

Chlorella is very high in protein, and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also a good source of magnesium and vitamin K. Spirulina is also very nutritious, containing significant amounts of protein, the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid, zinc, iron, copper, vitamin E, selenium, calcium, manganese, magnesium, B vitamins and carotenoids. It also contains vitamin B-12, but in a form that people cannot absorb.

Chlorella can cause an allergic reaction in some people, and should not be used by people taking blood thinners due to its vitamin K content. Spirulina may be contaminated with substances called microcystins and substances called anatoxins that are highly toxic. Spirulina may also absorb and concentrate heavy metals, including lead and mercury, from their environment, resulting in high levels of these metals in some spirulina supplements. People with autoimmune diseases or phenylketonuria should not take spirulina supplements.
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