Many anthropologists and biologists believe that spirulina is the oldest living plant on earth! They believe that this micro alga has provided complete nutrition for over 3.5 million years but only in the last fifty years that Americans have become familiar with Spirulina as a superfood with amazing health benefits.
Spirulina, only one of about 1,500 species of microscopic aquatic plants, is believed to have been discovered in Africa in 1940 by Pierre Dangeard, a French professor, who reported that the Kanembu peoples of Lake Chad were eating cakes made from blue-green algae called dihe. Professor Dangeard also reported that he had seen huge flocks of flamingos feeding on this same blue-green alga on the surface of several lakes in Eastern Africa’s Rift Valley. But much earlier during the 15th and 16th centuries, Aztec Indians in Mexico were harvesting spirulina for food from lakes and ponds. When Hernando Cortez invaded Mexico in 1519, he found that the Aztecs had been growing “a nutritious, powerful antioxidant” plant in Lake Texcoco. The native cooks were known to mix it with maize to make a kind of green pancake that became a staple of their diet.
Professor Dangeard’s excitement fell on deaf ears, however, and it was not until twenty-five years later, in 1964, that Belgian botanist Jean Leonard picked up the torch. Participating in an expedition to Lake Chad, he noticed that the open air village markets in the area were offering blue-greenish cakes for sale. He connected the blue green substances in the cakes with the same Lake Chad algae of which Professor Dangeard had written a quarter of a century before.
In times of famine, some African communities have consumed spirulina as their only source of nutrition. Spirulina has proven very effective in these circumstances because as little as one gram per day is sufficient to correct severe cases of malnutrition in children in just a few weeks. New studies suggest that spirulina not only improved their physical condition, it also helped their cognitive ability.
In 1974, the United Nations named Spirulina “one of the best foods for the future” and a 2008 UN Food and Agriculture Organization report stated that “there is a need for both national governments and inter-governmental organizations to reevaluate the potential of spirulina to fulfill both their own food security needs as well as a tool for their overseas development emergency response efforts.”
Spirulina on Our Blog
Check out interesting information about spirulina on our health blog.
Spirulina in Our Store
Spirulina is a spiral shaped blue-green alga that grows naturally in warm fresh water ponds and lakes. It has a high concentration of beta-carotene, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system and may even help to protect against disease.