Benefits Of Chlorella
Updated: 2 days ago
Scientific Name: Chlorella vulgaris
Common Names: Green algae, Chlorophyta
Family: Chlorellaceae (Chlorella)
Chlorella is a green algae superfood from the Chlorellaceae family. Chlorella is found alone or in fresh or saltwater clusters (1). The cells vary in size but are usually 2-12 µm in diameter. The chloroplasts are hollow, cup-shaped, or plate-like and sometimes bear pyrenoids (2). Pyrenoids are dense structures inside or beside chloroplasts of certain algae and are one of the required enzymes in photosynthesis for carbon fixation and sugar formation (3). Pyrenoid proteomes contain 190 proteins responsible for functions such as the carbon concentrating mechanism, starch metabolism, or RNA metabolism and translation (4). Although there are over 30 types of chlorella, the two most common types researched are Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa (5).
Benefits of Chlorella
Contraindications & Interactions
Products Recommended with Chlorella Ingredients
Benefits of Chlorella
Chlorella is sometimes used as a vegan supplement because it has the highest chlorophyll content (6). Aside from being the richest source of chlorophyll, chlorella has many different nutritional values; hence it is considered a superfood. Although the nutritional content varies depending on growing conditions, it typically contains small amounts of magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, calcium, folic acid, and other B vitamins (7). Chlorella is rich in the following nutrients:
Aside from being highly nutritious, chlorella is also rich in antioxidant properties. Antioxidants can help fight damage from harmful free radicals. The buildup of free radicals has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer and heart disease (14).
Chlorella’s plant compounds, such as chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, all act as antioxidants (15). Studies have found that chlorella interferes with DNA aging and how genes age (16). Other studies demonstrated that chlorella supplements increased antioxidant levels in populations at heightened risk of oxidative damage, such as chronic cigarette smokers (17).
Binds to Heavy Metals, Aiding in Detoxification
Aside from being a highly nutritious superfood, chlorella is most often recognized for its detoxification abilities. Animal studies indicate chlorella effectively removes heavy metals and other harmful compounds from the body (18).
Heavy metals that rank highest in toxicity include (19):
Humans are exposed to these heavy metals daily, from food and water contamination to vaccinations. Thankfully, animal studies have found algae like chlorella to weaken the toxic effects of these heavy metals in the liver, brain, and kidneys (20). Chlorella has also been proven to help decrease the amount of other harmful chemicals found in our food supply, like dioxins (21).
It's important to ensure you are using other detoxification methods along with chlorella to ensure the heavy metal binds and leaves the body. Learn more about detoxing heavy metals here.
May Support & Enhance the Immune System
The immune system protects the body from outside invaders, such as bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other toxins (22). When you support and enhance your immune system, you potentially support your body's ability to fight off sickness. One study found men who took chlorella produced more antibodies than when they took a placebo (23). Another study learned healthy adults taking chlorella showed markers of increased immune activity (24).
May Promote Respiratory Health
Chronic lower respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD, are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States (25). These respiratory diseases often require controlling inflammation for proper respiratory health management (26,27). Chlorella has components like antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation (28). One study discovered that chlorella supplements improved antioxidant status and pulmonary function in COPD patients (29).
May Promote Eye Health
Chlorella contains carotenoids like lutein and zeaxanthin (30). Lutein and zeaxanthin are the primary dietary carotenoids found in the human retina, protecting the macula from blue light damage, improving visual acuity, and scavenging harmful reactive oxygen (31). With that said, studies suggest chlorella’s natural plant compounds would decrease the risk and protect against macular degeneration (32,33).
May Promote Liver Health
The liver is the largest internal organ, responsible for more than 500 vital functions like bile production, detoxification, production and regulation of vital bodily processes, and more (34). When the liver becomes overburdened, it may become congested or result in liver disease. Several studies have demonstrated that chlorella supplementation can improve markers of liver health in individuals with non-alcoholic liver disease (35,36,37).
May Improve Blood Sugar Levels
As of 2020, 34.2 million (1 in 10) Americans have diabetes, and another 88 million (1 in 3) Americans have prediabetes (38). On the bright side, studies indicate that chlorella may help lower blood sugar levels. An animal study found chlorella to have a hypoglycemic effect on rats with type 2 diabetes (39). A human study discovered that taking chlorella for 12 weeks reduced fasting blood sugar levels in healthy individuals and those at elevated risk of lifestyle-related diseases (40).
May Improve Cholesterol Levels
Studies have uncovered a link between chlorella and reduced cholesterol levels. One study demonstrated that taking 5–10 grams of chlorella daily resulted in lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high blood pressure and/or slightly elevated cholesterol (41). Chlorella plant compounds like niacin (41), fiber (42), carotenoids (43), and antioxidants (44) are responsible for this effect.