For a health food, spirulina leaves a lot to be desired. It looks bad, is very expensive, and tastes terrible.

But people are buying this blue-green algae because they believe it will cure a litany of ills ranging from diabetes to depression. Since spirulina promoters don’t want to ...For a health food, spirulina leaves a lot to be desired. It looks bad, is very expensive, and tastes terrible.

But people are buying this blue-green algae because they believe it will cure a litany of ills ranging from diabetes to depression. Since spirulina promoters don’t want to disappoint their customers, their list of claims is growing daily.

Aside from being an energy booster, spirulina is said to treat obesity, is good for the skin, and is purported to be rich in vitamins and protein. Other conditions that supposedly respond to spirulina are alcoholism, herpes, diabetes, arthritis and cancer. Spirulina is also promoted as a liver tonic and an effective cure for hepatitis and cirrhosis.

Long before spirulina became a favorite of the health food industry, it was eaten by North Africans and Mexicans centuries ago. The plant was discovered by the Western world in 1962. Since then, it has been cultivated in several countries, including Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, and the United States.

Part of man’s fascination with spirulina stems from the fact that the plant is a survivor. It grows almost by itself on lakes and ponds and doesn’t need any special care from the farmer.

Apparently, those who buy spirulina products hope they will be as strong as the plant. Unfortunately, most of the claims made for spirulina are baseless if not ridiculous.

For instance, it’s claimed that spirulina is a “super food of the future” since it’s a rich source of protein. True, the plant contains 62 – 68 percent protein but you’ll spend less by eating white fish which has 97 percent protein, chicken (80 percent) or white lean beef (79 percent). If you ask me, many people prefer eating chicken or roast beef that has more protein than spirulina at a fraction of the cost.

Moreover, not all spirulina products have enough protein. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said many commercial brands provide only negligible amounts of protein when taken as directed by their labels. Some products advertised as spirulina have no spirulina at all.

Dieters may be enticed by ads that say spirulina only has 3.9 calories per gram. They may be surprised to know that sugar contains 4 calories to the gram while bread has only 2 calories per gram. Both are cheaper than spirulina.

Because it has a considerable amount of vitamin B12, spirulina is usually recommended for strict vegetarians who can’t get this vitamin from plant sources. But spirulina’s vitamin B12 content is due mainly to contamination with insect or animal fecal matter. That’s not surprising since spirulina grows in open lakes and ponds and is not thoroughly washed before it’s dried.

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Author's Bio: 

Janet Martin is an avid health and fitness enthusiast and published author. Many of her insightful articles can be found at the premiere online news magazine www.thearticleinsiders.com.