Well, even if they look, smell, and taste similar, you need to know that chlorella and spirulina are more like cousins than twins. That’s why I wrote this article about Spirulina vs Chlorella!
Thankfully, by reading this article, you will discover how these algae are alike and what makes them different.
Firstly, if you want to understand the difference between chlorella and spirulina, you have to go through a quick science lesson.
So, get your science hat, and let’s start to discuss the “Spirulina Vs. Chlorella” battle.
Chlorella Vs. Spirulina: Key Differences
One of the main differences between chlorella and spirulina is their cell structures. You see, chlorella is a single-celled algae, while spirulina has multiple cells.
The difference between chlorella and spirulina class is that chlorella belongs to trebouxiophyceae, while spirulina is a cyanobacteria.
As for digestibility, you shouldn’t pick spirulina directly from water and eat it. Even if you could technically do that, it’s still not recommended, since the water can be contaminated with toxic metals or other harmful bacteria.
So you know, spirulina lacks cellulose walls, making it easier to digest. However, chlorella has a hard cellulose wall, which makes it indigestible for you. Sadly, chlorella needs to go through a special process to crack the outer shell and turn into a dietary supplement, so you can eat it.
Where do Spirulina and Chlorella grow?
Well, spirulina grows in both fresh and saltwater. On the other hand, chlorella usually grows in freshwater. It mostly grows in Asia in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, while spirulina grows in Africa, Asia, South America, and Hawaii.
Chlorella And Spirulina Nutrients
So you know, chlorella and spirulina provide you several proper nutrients.
Specifically, 28-gram (1-ounce) serving of chlorella has the following:
- Calories 115 — 16g protein, 7g carbs, and 3g fats
- Vitamin A — 287% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Riboflavin (B2) — 71% of the DV
- Thiamine (B1) — 32% of the DV
- Folate — 7% of the DV
- Magnesium — 22% of the DV
- Iron — 202% of the DV
- Phosphorus — 25% of the DV
- Zinc — 133% of the DV
- Copper — 0% of the DV
On the other hand, 1-ounce of spirulina has the following:
- Calories 81 — 16g protein, 7g carbs, 2g fats
- Vitamin A — 3% of the DV
- Riboflavin (B2) — 60% of the DV
- Thiamine (B1) — 44% of the DV
- Folate — 7% of the DV
- Magnesium — 14% of the DV
- Iron — 44% of the DV
- Phosphorus — 3% of the DV
- Zinc — 4% of the DV
- Copper — 85% of the DV
As you can see, chlorella and spirulina protein, carbohydrate, and fat compositions are similar. It’s their calorie, vitamin, and mineral content that makes the difference.
As a summary, chlorella is higher in calories, as well as omega-3 fatty acids, provitamin A, riboflavin, magnesium, iron, and zinc. On the other hand, spirulina is lower in calories but still has a significant amount of riboflavin, thiamine, iron, and copper.
Chlorella Has Higher Levels Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Even if chlorella and spirulina have similar amounts of fat, the type of fat differs considerably.
Firstly, both algae are rich in polyunsaturated fats, especially omega-3 fatty acids.
You see, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids help your body with cell growth and improve your brain function.
Why are they so essential?
Well, they’re essential because your body can’t produce them. And you must get these acids from your diet.
More than that, proper polyunsaturated fats intake lowers the risk of heart disease, especially when you substitute them for saturated fats.
Thankfully, omega-3 fatty acids have numerous other health benefits. They can reduce inflammation, improve your bone health, and lower the risk of heart disease or other types of cancer.
Related: Turmeric Health Benefits: Is It The Best Anti-Inflammatory Supplement?
However, you need to consume large amounts of spirulina and chlorella to satisfy your daily omega-3 needs.
Even if both spirulina and chlorella have different types of polyunsaturated fats, studies show that chlorella has more omega-3 fatty acids, while spirulina has more omega-6 fatty acids.
Chlorella Has More Antioxidants
Besides having high levels of polyunsaturated fat, chlorella is very high in antioxidants too.
How do antioxidants help your body?
Well, antioxidants bind with free radicals in your body, so they prevent damage to cells and tissues.
A 6-week study conducted on smokers shows that chlorella increases your vitamin C blood levels by 44%, and your vitamin E levels by 16%.
More than that, studies show that chlorella can decrease DNA damage.
Related: 12 Antioxidant-Rich Foods: Which Are The Best Antioxidant Supplements?
Spirulina Is Higher In Protein
Long-time ago, Aztecs used spirulina as one of their main food sources.
You see, because of its high protein content, NASA gives astronauts spirulina as a dietary supplement during space missions. Besides protein, spirulina also has iron, folate, and beta carotene.
While both chlorella and spirulina have high amounts of protein, studies show that spirulina has up to 10% more protein than chlorella. And, even more, your body absorbs the protein in spirulina more easily.
As a summary, chlorella is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, riboflavin, iron, and zinc — while spirulina has more thiamine, copper, and likely more protein.
Chlorella And Spirulina Benefits: Key Similarities
Even if they may have their differences, chlorella and spirulina have numerous potential benefits.
No wonder everybody calls them superfoods!
You see, spirulina and chlorella are the richest and most nutrient-dense sources on the planet for several good reasons.
Let’s dive in and discuss each one of them.
Chlorella And Spirulina Can Lower “Bad” Cholesterol
Sadly, high levels of LDL, or low-density lipoprotein, can harm your arteries.
Well, having too much cholesterol in your blood raises your risk of coronary artery disease.
Thankfully, studies show that chlorella and spirulina can lower total cholesterol levels. And especially the “bad” LDL cholesterol, and triglyceride fats, which leads to lower risk of stroke.
More than that, a 25-people study with Type 2 diabetes shows that taking two grams of spirulina daily lowers LDL cholesterol and triglycerides while raising “good” HDL cholesterol.
Besides this study, another one suggests that taking ten grams of spirulina daily can lower serum cholesterol levels, which measures certain elements in blood, like HDL and LDL.
Chlorella And Spirulina Can Improve Blood Sugar Levels
Another key benefit of chlorella and spirulina is they lower blood sugar levels.
A 25-people study with persons who have Type 2 diabetes shows that just by taking two grams of spirulina per day can reduce blood sugar levels.
Even more, another study shows that chlorella supplements can improve blood sugar control and increase insulin sensitivity. These benefits could be more helpful if you have non-alcoholic hepatic steatosis or “fatty liver” disease.
Chlorella And Spirulina Are Good Sources Of Protein And Amino Acids
Thankfully, by having all nine essential amino acids, chlorella and spirulina are both “complete protein” sources. And that’s why vegans and vegetarians take both of them as their main source of protein.
Often referred to as the building blocks of life, amino acids help you break down food, maintain energy, repair tissue, and perform many other bodily functions.
Chlorella And Spirulina May Enhance Endurance
So you know, muscle fatigue is mostly pinned on the oxidative damage that happens when you exercise.
By having antioxidant properties, some plants can help minimize the damage.
How do you know it?
Well, a study shows that spirulina can enhance your endurance and reduce fatigue. More than that, another study shows that chlorella can improve your ability to flood your lungs with oxygen, which leads to improved endurance.
Chlorella And Spirulina Are Rich In Antioxidants, Nutrients, And Anti-inflammatory Properties
Oxidative damage is bad.
And it’s bad because it can lead to chronic inflammation, which can cause you cancer or other diseases.
But, thankfully, antioxidants such as chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein help your immune system fight several conditions. Luckily, chlorella and spirulina have these antioxidants and can help you fight inflammation and ward off disease.
As a summary, both chlorella and spirulina are forms of algae that provide you with numerous nutrients and are safe to eat for you and most people. They have many health benefits, such as lowering risk factors of heart disease and improves your blood sugar control.
Even if chlorella is slightly higher in some nutrients, both of them are almost equally good.
Related: Top 10 Antioxidant Supplements: Matcha Green Tea
Mostly, you can take spirulina and chlorella in capsules, extract, powder, and tablet supplements.
But, as with any healthy lifestyle changes, you must first talk with your doctor before you start supplementing with them. More than that, always look for high-quality supplements that don’t have fillers, binders, or other additives.
How much chlorella and spirulina should you take?
Well, it depends …
It depends on your specific reasons for taking chlorella and spirulina, and which supplementation format you choose to take.
Usually, you should take between 1 and 8 grams of spirulina and 2 and 5 grams of chlorella. But, as I said above, these numbers can vary.
So you know, most spirulina and chlorella powder taste like bitter pond scum or pungent seawater. However, I’ll give you some tips and tricks …
The secret is to mix your algae into a smoothie with citrus fruits, pineapple, ginger, or mint, so you can at least mask the favor. And if you don’t get past the taste, you can always choose the capsules or tablets.
If you’re looking for a good chlorella and spirulina supplement brand, Organifi Green Juice should be your option.
You see, besides these two algae, Organifi has many other superfoods too. Superfoods like ashwagandha (read here our full article), turmeric, matcha green tea, and others.
Read here our Organifi review article and decide whether this is your go-to supplement or not.