Spirulina versus Chlorella

Differences:

Spirulina versus Chlorella 

  • Spirulina and Chlorella do have many similarities. However, they also have a number of differences and when it comes to the “better” choice question it boils more down to a “Which of these superfoods is best for me?".
  • Both Spirulina and Chlorella are extremely nutrient dense foods, and either of them adds important nutrients to your diet, so you actually don’t have to choose between the two.

Enjoy Chlorella and Spirulina in your snacks & smoothies, mixed into your water or even in your beer!

Spirulina versus Chlorella

Similar in appearance, smell and taste, with some similar properties Spirulina and Chlorella are easily confused; both belong to the first organisms appearing on earth millions of years ago, but Spirulina is 1.6 million years older.

In fact, both of them are micro-algae growing in fresh water using sunlight and both seem to be dark green-blue, but a closer look reveals that their nature is quite different:

Spirulina is composed of several cells forming a spiral, without a nucleus (central cell) and its true color is blueish green.

Chlorella is a single-cell algae, which a thick cell wall, rich in chlorophyll, which is green, hence its name. Chlorella is up to a 100-times smaller than Spirulina.

Chlorella is two to eight microns wide; science reminder: a micron is one-thousandth of a millimeter, in perspective, a human blood cell is an average of 5 microns wide.

Spirulina requires more sunshine, and a more alkaline environment, eliminating other organisms, making it easier and safer to harvest. Spirulina is highly digestible as it is; no thick walls covering its cells.

Chlorella shares its habitat with many other organisms, it is harder to select & harvest. It is not ready to eat due to its hard cellulose covered cells, its production implies more costs.

Chlorella is a much more delicate organism than Spirulina, it is highly sensitive to PH and temperature change of the water it grows in.

Finally, although both are considered superfoods, Spirulina and Chlorella differ in their nutritional content. Arguably the “healthier" of the two, Spirulina contains more essential amino acids, iron, protein, B vitamins, and vitamins C, D, and E.

With that said, Chlorella still holds an abundance of health benefits.

Here are some subtle yet important differences between the two:

Chlorella is a green algae, which color is due to the very high content in chlorophyll, up to 7 times more than Spirulina.

2. When it comes to proteins, Spirulina is slightly richer: 60-70% protein for Spirulina, 50-65 % for Chlorella.

3. Spirulina is a rich source of essential fatty acids. Spirulina also contains gamma linoleic acid, which is very rare to find in foods and offers benefits for the brain and heart. Per 100 g of Spirulina, it contains 922 mg of Omega-3 fatty acids and 1404 mg of Omega-6 fatty acids.

Chlorella does not have Omega-3, neither Omega-6 fatty acids.

4. Chlorella offers a stronger detox. Due to its high chlorophyll content, chlorophyll is effective at cleansing the liver and digestive tract.

5. Contains the most of vitamins from the B complex (3 times as much as Chlorella) and three times as much beta-carotene as Chlorella. Beta-carotene is important for the immune system. Spirulina has a preventive effect against viral diseases such as herpes or influenza.

6. Spirulina has a unique antioxidant. Phycocyanin, which is a phytonutrient that helps protect the cells and may help prevent cancer, is found in Spirulina.

7. Chlorella has a unique anti-aging component. Chlorella contains a unique Growth Factor that helps repair nerve tissue damage and boost your immune system.

8. Chlorella contains more iron: Spirulina contains 32 mg of iron per 100 g (177% of the RDA), Chlorella 130 mg per 100 g. (722% of the RDA)
A tablespoon of 10 g Chlorella contains 13 mg of iron, 72% of the RDA.
A tablespoon of 10 g Spirulina contains 3,2 mg of iron, 18% of the RDA

9. Chlorella has a lot more Vitamine A than Spirulina:
Chlorella: 51300 IU – 1026% of the RDA
Spirulina: 680 IU – 13% of the RDA
Vitamine A is very good against acne.

10. Both promote gut health. Chlorella and Spirulina both support healthy digestion, proper absorption and good bacteria in the gut.

11. Spirulina contains less Calcium and Magnesium than Chlorella:

Spirulina: Calcium 134 mg, 13% of the RDA, Magnesium 218 mg, 55% of the RDA.

Chlorella: Calcium 221 mg, 21% of the RDA, Magnesium 315 mg, 79% of the RDA.

12. Chlorella contains much more zinc than Spirulina: Zinc 71 mg, 473% of the RDA, Zinc 2.2 mg, 15% of the RDA.

13. Chlorella contains 2 μg (mcg) of iodine per gram (20μg per 10 g) Spirulina one third less. The recommended daily intake (RDI) of iodine is 150 μg (mcg) per day for most adults. For women who are pregnant or nursing, the requirements are higher.

14. In general, Spirulina contains a wider array of minerals than Chlorella.

15. Their colors are slightly different. One way to tell them apart is knowing that chlorella is green, and Spirulina is blue.

Please note that all these values are slightly variable, depending on the cultivation factor, as it often happens with natural products.