Small blue-green alga often sold in powder, spirulina is considered a superfood. Zoom on its protein content.
Spirulina ( Spirulina platensis ) is a small blue algae that belongs to the family of cyanobacteria. Its name comes from the spiral shape of its microscopic filaments.
Spirulina is found naturally in lagoons of Africa or South America. It has been consumed there for hundreds of years by indigenous people (Kanembou in Africa and the Aztecs in Mexico), after drying in the sun. It was not until 1967 that spirulina was recognized as a ” future food source ” by the International Association of Applied Microbiology and since its nutritional properties have been scientifically evaluated.
A very good quality protein content
Spirulina is a source of various beneficial compounds, including good quality proteins, well assimilated. Proteins play an essential role in the functioning of the body, especially to renew muscle tissue, the matrix of bones … They consist of about twenty amino acids, of which eight can not be produced by the body; they are called essential amino acids.
Several studies have shown that spirulina contains all the essential amino acids in the proportions recommended by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It can, as such, be compared to other sources of protein of good biological value such as eggs or meat, and is superior to vegetable protein sources. Indeed, good sources of vegetable proteins generally lack one or more essential amines. Thus cereals are deficient in lysine and most legumes have little or no methionine and cysteine, although some of them, like soybeans or chickpeas, have remarkable levels of protein.
According to experts, ” when it is consumed daily in sufficient quantity, [spirulina makes it possible] to effectively supplement the essential protein and amino acid requirements of the body. In addition, these proteins are easily assimilated by the body . ”
Spirulina versus other sources of protein
Spirulina contains almost three times more protein per 100g than fish or meat, a remarkable feature – even if you rarely consume 100g of Spirulina! Here are some other points of comparison (even if the amount of protein does not say anything about their quality and bio availability).
Amount of protein contained in different foods
|10 g of spirulina||5.7 g|
|100 g of beef||20 g|
|100 g of sardines in oil||24.5 g|
|1 egg (50 g)||6 g|
|100 g cooked lentils||9 g|
|100 g boiled chickpeas||8.9 g|
|100 g cooked bean seeds||16.6 g|
|35 g roasted almonds||7.15 g|
Why Spirulina is interesting in case of vegan diet
Daily protein requirements average 0.8 g per kilogram of body weight per day for omnivores. These needs are higher for vegetarians and vegans (1 to 1.1 g / kg body weight). While it is certainly possible to find proteins in plants, it is necessary to vary the sources a lot in order to have enough of them in quality and quantity.
In this context, spirulina is a very interesting food for daily intake of satisfactory protein. Spirulina also contains iron (which may be missing vegans), which is very well assimilated.
Amount Per 100 grams
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8 g||12%|
|Saturated fat 2.7 g||13%|
|Polyunsaturated fat 2.1 g|
|Monounsaturated fat 0.7 g|
|Cholesterol 0 mg||0%|
|Sodium 1,048 mg||43%|
|Potassium 1,363 mg||38%|
|Total Carbohydrate 24 g||8%|
|Dietary fiber 3.6 g||14%|
|Sugar 3.1 g|
|Protein 57 g||114%|
|Vitamin A||11%||Vitamin C||16%|
|Vitamin D||0%||Vitamin B-6||20%|
|*Per cent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.|