Chlorella - The Top Ten Health Benefits And More

Microalgae are both single cells and whole plants that are at the bottom of the food chain and are the most productive organisms on the planet, using light approximately three times more efficiently than higher plants (Pirt 1980).


Gram for gram, microalgae may also be the most nutrient dense food on earth. (Passwater & Solomon 1997)


Microalgae have garnered significant attention as superfoods due to their rich nutrient profiles and health benefits. They contain a range of macro and micro nutrients, such as chlorophyll, carotenoids, phytonutrients, amino acids, polysaccharides, essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, and vitamins and bioavailable minerals.


The main microalgae that are widely consumed by humans as superfoods include:


Chlorella (usually Chlorella vulgaris or C. pyrenoidosa): Chlorella is a green single-celled freshwater algae that is highly nutritious. It is an excellent source of protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Chlorella is particularly noted for its ability to bind to heavy metals and assist in detoxification. It also contains a unique substance known as chlorella growth factor (CGF) which is believed to enhance DNA and RNA repair.


Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis and Arthrospira maxima): Spirulina is one of the most popular microalgae consumed as a superfood. It is a cyanobacterium (often referred to as blue-green algae) known for its high protein content, vitamins (especially B vitamins), minerals (including iron, magnesium, and calcium), and antioxidants. It is also rich in phycocyanin, a pigment with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.


Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA): AFA is another type of blue-green algae, found primarily in wild upper Klamath Lake in Oregon, USA. It is valued for its nutrient density and content of phycocyanin and chlorophyll. AFA is often marketed for its potential benefits on mental clarity and energy levels.


Dunaliella salina: This microalga is known for its exceptionally high beta-carotene content, which is used as a natural colorant and antioxidant in foods and supplements. It also contains other carotenoids, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, and is used for promoting eye health and as an immune booster.


Haematococcus pluvialis: Known primarily for being the richest natural source of astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant, Haematococcus pluvialis is another microalgae consumed for its health benefits. Astaxanthin is commonly used for its anti-ageing properties and to enhance athletic performance and muscle recovery.



These microalgae are commonly available in various forms such as powders, tablets, and capsules, and are incorporated into a wide array of dietary supplements and health foods. Their wide-ranging health benefits make them a popular choice for individuals seeking to boost their nutritional intake and overall health.


Chlorella – A Powerful Health Ally


Chlorella, was first described by the Dutch microbiologist Martinus Willem Beijerinck in 1890. Beijerinck was a pioneering scientist in the field of microbiology and virology, and his discovery of chlorella marked a significant contribution to the study of algae and photosynthetic organisms. 


In his work, Beijerinck observed the rapid growth and high protein content of chlorella, which later led to its investigation as a potential food source and as a candidate for waste-water treatment due to its photosynthetic efficiency and ability to grow under harsh conditions. (Beijerinck, M. W. (1890).


The algae's name, "chlorella," derives from the Greek "chloros," meaning green, and the Latin diminutive suffix "ella," for its small and green appearance.



Further exploration of chlorella's potential uses and properties has been ongoing since its discovery, significantly enhancing our understanding of its benefits and applications in areas ranging from nutrition to renewable energy.



Commercially available Chlorella products contain all the vitamins required by humans, i.e., B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, C, D2, E, and K, and α- and β-carotenes. Chlorella products contain substantial amounts of vitamins D2 and B12, both of which are well known to be absent in plants. (Bito et al 2020)


Nutritional Profile


Proteins: Chlorella is composed of about 50-60% protein, which includes all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. This high protein content is particularly beneficial for vegetarians and vegans (Becker, 2007).


Vitamins: It is rich in vitamins, especially vitamin B12, making it one of the few plant sources of this essential nutrient, which is crucial for nerve function and the production of DNA. Chlorella also contains vitamins C, E, and K (Merchant et al., 2007).


Minerals: This microalgae supplies a range of important minerals including iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, which are vital for various bodily functions including immune response, bone health, and energy metabolism (Kulshreshtha et al., 2008).


Fatty Acids: Chlorella includes a balance of essential fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for heart health and cognitive function (Spolaore et al., 2006).


Dietary Fibre and Antioxidants: Besides its macronutrients, chlorella is a good source of dietary fibre and antioxidants such as chlorophyll, beta-carotene, lutein, and others, which help combat oxidative stress and may reduce the risk of chronic diseases (Panahi et al., 2016).


The broad range of nutrients in chlorella makes it a valuable supplement for enhancing overall nutritional intake. 



The Top Ten Health Benefits Of Consuming Chlorella


  1. Nutritional Enhancement


Chlorella is packed with high levels of proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It contains a complete set of essential amino acids, making it a rare plant-based source of complete protein. It is also high in vitamins such as vitamin B12, which is often lacking in vegetarian diets (Becker, 2007)


  1. Detoxification of Heavy Metals


Chlorella has the ability to bind to heavy metals and aid in their detoxification, which is crucial for overall health. This is especially beneficial for people exposed to heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium (Queiroz et al., 2003).


  1. Immune System Support


Research suggests that chlorella supports the immune system. One study indicated that chlorella supplementation can increase natural killer cell activity, thus enhancing the body’s ability to fight infections and diseases (Kwak et al., 2012).


  1. Antioxidant Properties


Chlorella is rich in antioxidants, which help in combating oxidative stress and reducing the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer. The antioxidants in chlorella include chlorophyll, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (Miranda et al., 2001).


  1. Improves Digestive Health


Chlorella facilitates digestion by promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal microflora. It also aids in the production of digestive enzymes, which enhances gut health and prevents bloating (An et al., 2016).


  1. Reduces Cholesterol


Studies have demonstrated that chlorella can lower cholesterol levels. Components in chlorella help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and increase high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, thereby improving cardiovascular health (Ryu et al., 2014).


  1. Blood Pressure Regulation


Chlorella has been shown to help lower blood pressure. Its high nutritional content, including essential amino acids and omega-3 fatty acids, contributes to cardiovascular health and aids in blood pressure regulation (Hidaka et al., 2004).


  1. Blood Sugar Control


Regular consumption of chlorella has been linked to lower blood sugar levels, which can help manage or prevent diabetes. Chlorella influences insulin sensitivity and helps in the management of blood glucose levels (Ebrahimi-Mameghani et al., 2017).


  1. Enhances Aerobic Endurance


Chlorella intake has been associated with increased aerobic endurance, likely due to its high branched-chain amino acid content. This benefit is particularly valuable for athletes and physically active individuals (Mizoguchi et al., 2008).


  1. Weight Management


Chlorella can aid in weight management. Its high dietary fibre content helps regulate appetite and prevent overeating. Additionally, the presence of bioactive compounds in chlorella has been noted to enhance fat metabolism (Panahi et al., 2018).


Detoxification Effect


Chlorella is highly valued for its ability to detoxify heavy metals from the body, a process critical for preventing metal-induced toxicity and supporting overall health. This detoxification process primarily involves the complex polysaccharides found in chlorella's cell wall, which have chelating properties. These polysaccharides bind to heavy metal ions such as lead, mercury, and cadmium, thereby transforming them into harmless complexes that the body can safely excrete (Queiroz et al., 2003).


The chelation process is facilitated by the unique structure of chlorella's cell walls, which contain sporopollenin—a biopolymer known for its ability to bind with heavy metals. This binding prevents the absorption of heavy metals into the bloodstream, redirecting them instead towards elimination pathways (Uchikawa et al., 2011).


Furthermore, chlorella enhances the body’s detoxification pathways, particularly in the liver, which is crucial for the processing and removal of toxins. The presence of antioxidants in chlorella also helps protect against oxidative stress, further aiding in the detoxification process (Shim et al., 2009).


These mechanisms make chlorella a valuable tool in detox diets and therapies aimed at reducing body burdens of environmental contaminants.


Humans cannot digest Chlorella cells in their natural state because their cell walls are made of cellulose. Therefore, Chlorella cell walls are mechanically broken down in most dietary supplements.




Chlorella offers numerous health benefits, making it a valuable addition to a health-conscious diet. Whether it is its detoxifying properties, nutritional value, or its role in disease prevention and management, chlorella stands out as a potent natural supplement. Its wide range of benefits ensures that it appeals to a broad audience, seeking to improve their health in various aspects.






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Ebrahimi-Mameghani, M., Sadeghi, Z., Farhangi, M. A., Vaghef-Mehrabany, E., & Aliashrafi, S. (2017). The effects of Chlorella vulgaris supplementation on blood glucose, lipid profile and renal profile in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: A randomized clinical trial. Health Promotion Perspectives, 7(1), 95-104.


Hidaka, H., Eida, T., Takizawa, T., Tokunaga, T., & Tashiro, Y. (2004). Effects of Chlorella on activities of protein, fat metabolism and chlorella-induced lactic acid bacteria in rat liver. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, 55(3), 217



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