What is Spirulina powder?

What is Spirulina powder?

What is Spirulina powder?

Arthrospira platensis, the scientific name for Spirulina is a sort of free-floating seaweed made of tiny blue-green cells which grow in the shape of a spiral. It is one of the oldest organisms (3.6 million years old) and served as an evolutionary bridge between bacteria and green plants.

This water plant has adapted through evolution and was a staple food since the beginning of mankind in Central America, Africa and in the Middle East.

The original habitat of Spirulina are mineral-rich alkaline lakes which can often be found near volcanoes. The largest concentrations of Spirulina were found at Lake Texcoco in Mexico, around Lake Chad in Central Africa and along the Great Rift Valley in East Africa.

Spirulina powder is elaborated by a meticulous yet quite simple process. Nutrients (minerals and salts) are added to strongly alkaline water of shallow ponds to obtain the optimum conditions for the algae to grow.

Alkaline water (between 9 pH to pH 10.5) ensures that no other algae or micro-organism can develop in the pond at the same time. The water is stirred several times a day, in order to ensure even photosynthesis.

After 3 to 6 weeks depending on several factors like the amount of water, temperature (should ideally be warm & moist), sunlight intensity, nutrients, etc. Spirulina reaches its maximum growth (a 3 cm thick mantle) and can be harvested.

This is done with scoops or sticks or other mechanical means depending on the size of the plantation. The dark green fluffy foam is passed through several filters to be drained and cleaned with water.

All water remnants are pressed out of the mass which becomes a thick paste. It will be spread thin and sun and air dried. Once it is dried it is ready for consumption or further processing (flakes, powder, tablets).

Here is the average nutritional composition of the obtained product for 100 grams of dry product:

Protein 60%
Lipids (fats) 5%
Carbohydrates 25%
Minerals 7%
Moisture 2%

Energy 387 kcal
Phycocyanin 1.37 g
Carotenoids 0.20 g
Chlorophylls 1 g
Vitamin B12 16.41ug
Gamma-linolenic acid 2 mg
Iron 38 mg

These amounts may vary slightly, depending on several factors.

If you feel adventurous you can produce your own Spirulina at home with a bit of patience and a minimum investment.