Spirulina vs. Chlorella

Last Update: September 27, 2022

From mineral rich lakes to fresh water sources, we’re going deeper with two aquatic ingredients: spirulina and chlorella. Both of these superfood algae are highly nutritious and easy to incorporate into your diet—we’ll show you how.

What Is Spirulina?

Spirulina—technically classified as a cyanobacteria—is a spiral-shaped algae known for delivering nutrients like manganese, B-vitamins, zinc, protein, and iron. It thrives in warm climates with alkaline water, but can grow in less ideal conditions too.

When considering its trajectory, the phrase “everything old is new again” comes to mind. Spirulina is enjoying some added popularity these days (its high nutrient content has inspired NASA to study it for use in space), but spirulina has been a staple for centuries in Africa and during Mexico’s Aztec empire where it was harvested from Mexico’s Lake Texcoco and sold as a cake called “tecuitlatl.” Commonly available in capsule and powder form, you can’t miss its vibrant blue-green color and earthy flavor.

Spirulina Benefits

There are lots of reasons to add a scoop to your next smoothie, risotto, or yogurt parfait (see our recipes below). Here are a few spirulina health benefits worth noting:

  • Gut support. Spirulina may help support gut health by encouraging healthy bacteria to grow. It’s also believed to help important immune cells and proteins like macrophages and antibodies that defend against disease.
  • Heart health. A small study noted that spirulina may help lower cholesterol and inflammation. One reason why may be due to spirulina’s high antioxidant content, which may get to work lowering oxidative stress levels.
  • Allergy relief. Studies suggest that spirulina may help fight seasonal allergies and their unwelcome symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, and runny nose.

The Best Spirulina Supplements

wellmade by thrive market

Ready for your spirulina fix? Choose from a versatile powder for adding to recipes or vegan capsules that can travel with you.

Try It: wellmade by Thrive Market Organic Spirulina Tablets

Sourced from mineral-rich lakes, this pouch comes with 250 vegan capsules to bolster your daily nutrition, blending concentrated sources of amino acids, chlorophyll, essential fatty acids, and vitamins A, E, and B-12.

Try It: Thrive Market Organic Spirulina Powder

As supplements go, this powder works for just about everyone. Spirulina is gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, paleo, raw, soy-free, and low sugar. Plus, ours is Certified Organic and ethically sourced in Inner Mongolia. Our members use it for pancake batter, smoothies, and even dog food.

Spirulina Recipes

If daily tablets aren’t your jam, enjoy a spoonful of spirulina in these wholesome recipes.

Savory Breakfast Yogurt

Start the morning strong with a savory protein bowl made with spirulina-laced yogurt, poached eggs, and a kick from harissa.

Almond Butter & Cacao Recovery Smoothie

Tough workout? Reward those tired muscles with a recovery smoothie. The earthy notes of spirulina are nearly undetectable when combined with dates, cacao, spirulina, and almond butter.

Shrimp Rice Bowls

If you’re planning to make rice, why not infuse it with some added nutrients while you’re at it? This pot combines warm grains with furikake, spirulina powder, and sea salt for the ultimate side dish that’s delightful with succulent shrimp.

3 Ways to Cook With Spirulina

Green Wellness Bowl With Spirulina Vinaigrette

A generous squeeze of lemon, garlic powder, and a touch of honey perfectly balances spirulina in this zesty vinaigrette that’s ready for your favorite greens or a hearty veggie bowl.

Green wellness bowl

Spirulina Tapenade

When you tear into your next baguette during a picnic, add a smear of make-ahead tapenade that’s made with turmeric, ground ginger, spirulina powder, and garlic.

Spirulina Risotto

A comforting bowl of risotto gets even better with the addition of spirulina. Tangy artichokes, lemon zest, and fresh mint brighten every bite.

Spirulina Risotto

Sweet Spirulina Swirled Frozen Pina Colada

For warm-weather cocktail hours, nothing beats a frozen adult beverage. This one’s spiked with spirulina and paired with rum and pineapple. It’s a sweet, superfood beverage that’s also dairy-free and vegan.

Blog_Spirulina_Pina coladas_Spirulina

What Is Chlorella?

Named from the Greek, chloros, meaning green, and the Latin suffix ella, meaning small, chlorella is a single-cell algae known for its ample protein, amino acids, and vitamin B12. Chlorella has what’s called a “broken cell wall,” meaning all of its nutrients are readily available for absorption because the hard cell wall has been opened during processing.

Chlorella Benefits

Although additional research is needed, chlorella shows promising benefits for your overall health. Keep reading for some of the top reasons to start incorporating chlorella into the mix (plus our favorite supplements and recipes).

  • Detox darling. Animal studies have shown that chlorella may help remove heavy metals from the body and serve as a natural clearing agent.
  • Immune boost. This small study found that men produced more antibodies when taking chlorella versus when they took a placebo. Another small study found that adults who took chlorella showed increased immune activity as well.
  • Cholesterol support. Studies have shown that taking between 5-10g of chlorella per day may help lower total LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in people with high blood pressure.

The Best Chlorella Supplements

When it comes to supplements, wellmade by Thrive Market sources only the highest-quality ingredients from around the world—including chlorella.

wellmade by thrive market

Try It: wellmade by Thrive Market Organic Chlorella Tablets

Boost your diet with essential vitamins and minerals in this easy-to-take superfood supplement. We ethically source ours from fresh water in South Korea, where it undergoes a special process to crack the outer cell wall, unlocking vital nutrients so your body can better absorb all the good stuff.

Try It: Thrive Market Organic Chlorella Powder

Our organic, dairy-free, gluten-free, and paleo powder is ethically sourced in South Korea and undergoes a special process to crack the outer cell wall, which makes nutrients easier to absorb and digest. Win-win! Bridget from Tennessee loves adding a scoop to her smoothies, and reports that her four-year-old even loves it too.

Healthy Chlorella Recipes

Go green with a sprinkle of chlorella in recipes the whole family will enjoy.

Chlorella Avocado Pesto Noodles

When pesto is already on the menu, just add chlorella for an added boost of nutrition. Between the vibrant herbs and spicy garlic, you won’t even be able to taste it.

Chocolate Coconut Bites

Dessert alert! We can’t get enough of these cacao-infused nibbles made with creamy nut butter and chewy coconut. The secret ingredient? Chlorella.

Mermaid Smoothie Bowl

Any recipe with mermaid in the title already has us interested, especially when it means vacation vibes in a bowl. This smoothie bowl is full of good-for-you ingredients like vanilla protein powder, sea greens chlorella and spirulina, Greek-style yogurt, and fresh fruit like banana, grapes, and pineapple.

Easy Chlorella Drink Recipe: Iced Matcha Latte

Enjoy this chlorella drink recipe anytime you could use an extra energy boost in your day. We blend up this latte with hemp milk, dates, matcha powder, chlorella powder, and vanilla extract.

Iced Matcha Latte

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Nicole Gulotta

Nicole Gulotta is a writer, author, and tea enthusiast.

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