11 Health Benefits Of Chlorella, Nutrition, & Side Effects

From aiding weight loss to boosting hair growth – this blue-green alga has many benefits.

Medically reviewed by Sarah Spann, Adv Dip (Nut Med), mATMS Sarah Spann Sarah SpannAdv Dip (Nut Med), mATMS facebook_iconinsta_icon
Written by , BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Ravi Teja Tadimalla BSc, Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition and Health Experience: 8 years
Edited by , BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Arshiya Syeda BA (Literature & Psychology), PG Diploma Experience: 7 years
Fact-checked by , BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Aparna Mallampalli BEd, MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition Experience: 5 years
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The benefits of chlorella are similar to those of spirulina. Its rich nutrient profile makes this blue-green alga a great source of health benefits. It contains various beneficial nutrients, including chlorophyll, protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. Chlorella supplement can promote healthy weight management, heart and liver health, and a good complexion. In addition, it has antifungal properties that can reduce inflammation and prevent breakouts. This article discusses the importance of chlorella, its benefits, recommended dosage, nutritional profile, and possible side effects. Take a look.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Chlorella

What Is It?
A freshwater, single-celled blue-green algae with many health benefits.

What Are Its Benefits?
It helps manage weight, improves metabolism, boosts heart and liver health, treats skin infections, and reduces body odor.

Who Can Use It?
All except pregnant and breastfeeding women and individuals with a weak immune system, iodine sensitivity or mold allergies.

How Often?
Initially, up to 2-3 gm every day.

Caution
Can cause the immune system to become hyperactive and increase the risk of autoimmune conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis. Consult your doctor to find out the right dosage for you.

What Is Chlorella?

As we already saw, chlorella is a blue-green alga. It is rich green, which comes from its high chlorophyll content – which is good news. Since chlorella contains more chlorophyll than most green leafy vegetables (or any vegetable for that matter), it can offer certain health benefits.

But aren’t algae bad? Well, it’s kinda complicated. Algae are both good and bad. Single-celled algae called phytoplankton are the main food source for fish and other aquatic animals – and these are the good algae. And then, there is another variety of algae called the cyanobacteria that can be toxic to aquatic life as well as humans. This is the bad variety (1). However, commercially cultivated cyanobacteria are nutritious – and chlorella falls under this category.

But what makes chlorella so nutritious? It is the presence of certain powerful nutrients – chlorophyll, protein, vitamin B12, omega-3 fatty acids, and beta-carotene. These nutrients are primarily responsible for the incredible benefits the algae can offer.

protip_icon Trivia
Chlorella was planted in Germany as a source of protein during the First World War

What Are The Health Benefits Of Chlorella?

1. Chlorella Can Help You Lose Weight

Chlorella can aid weight loss
Image: Shutterstock

If you have been trying to lose weight, we understand your plight. Adding chlorella to your diet can help accelerate weight loss. It achieves this by improving your metabolism, regulating hormones, and improving circulation. One study states how chlorella intake could reduce body fat percentage, ultimately aiding weight loss (2).

2. Can Aid Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes sure can be hard to deal with. But with chlorella, it has just become easier. If you want to supplement your diabetes treatment with something effective, chlorella might just be what you need.

This is because studies show how this alga can lower blood cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Chlorella is known to activate certain genes in your body that improve insulin sensitivity, and this encourages healthy blood sugar levels (3).

Studies also show how chlorella can prevent the formation of advanced glycation end products (AGEs) (4). These are proteins in your body that attract sugar molecules when they are exposed to bodily sugars, resulting in worsening of diabetes symptoms.

3. Can Improve Your Heart Health

Chlorella may boost your heart health
Image: Shutterstock

You might be someone with a healthy heart. Or you could be popping pills to deal with some heart ailment. Whoever you are, chlorella can be of help. One way it can achieve this is by regulating blood pressure levels (5). Consuming this alga can help prevent hypertensioni  A condition that affects the body’s arteries where the force of the blood against the artery walls is too high. and all the other evil baggage it brings with it – including stroke.

4. Can Help You Prevent Cancer

Statistics project 1,735,350 new cases of cancer in 2018 in the United States (6). And we don’t want you to be one of them. Apart from regular exercise and a healthy diet and lifestyle, consuming chlorella can be of immense help (7).

The alga boosts your immune system. It eliminates heavy metals from your system. And in case you already have cancer, it boosts the action of T cells (a type of immune cells) that fight the cancerous cells and aid faster treatment.

5. Can Reduce Inflammation In Your Body

Chlorella may decrease inflammation in the body
Image: Shutterstock

Inflammation inside your body can often manifest itself in the form of severe diseases. Chlorella is a powerful and natural antioxidant. Also, the omega-3s in chlorella can help combat this inflammation and keep you much healthier. These antioxidants also help prevent allergies.

A blogger details her struggle with rosacea and the role of Chlorella in combating it. She started taking Chlorella to detoxify her body after having tested positive for high levels of metals such as lead in her body. A retest after 11 months showed that the amount of toxic metals in her body had dipped drastically. She concludes her experience as follows: “Although I do still have rosacea and suffer from occasional flare ups brought on by specific triggers, there is no doubt that I have come a long way in enabling my body to be more in control and less susceptible to certain triggers that previously would have brought me to my knees (i).”

Though there is more research required, this sure is one encouraging step.

6. Promotes Cellular Detoxification

Chlorella plays a major role here. It binds to toxic compounds and other heavy metals in the system and excretes them, thereby detoxifying your body right from the cellular level.

7. May Reduce Body Odor

Chlorella helps reduce body odor
Image: Shutterstock

Though there is limited research, some sources suggest that chlorella can eliminate body odor and even freshen your breath (8).

8. Boosts Liver Health

Chlorella supports liver health, which can help prevent severe liver ailments – including non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (9). Regular intake of chlorella can keep your liver functioning at its best, thanks to its detoxifying properties.

9. Can Help Fight Candida

Chlorella can promote the growth of friendly bacteria, and this helps fight candida infections. Chlorella also contains beta glucan that improves the functioning of antibiotics – this helps reduce multiple prescriptions of antibiotics.

Chlorella also enhances the growth of macrophages, which are immune cells known to destroy the virus causing candida.

10. Combats Acne

Chlorella may reduce acne
Image: Shutterstock

Studies have shown that chlorella extracts can inhibit the proliferation of Propionibacterium acnes, which cause acne (10). Chlorella is also known to reduce the production of certain enzymes produced by P. acnes that can cause inflammation and aggravate acne.

This property of chlorella can also help delay the signs of aging. Chlorella also accelerates wound healing.

11. Can Boost Hair Growth

Chlorella is one of the richest sources of vitamin B12, a nutrient important for hair health. Studies have shown how vitamin B12 deficiencies can often lead to premature hair loss. Other nutrients in chlorella, like selenium, zinc, and calcium, can make the hair shiny and soft.

These are the different ways chlorella can improve your life. And we are sure you would have heard of spirulina as well. We saw the two are cousins – but how are the two different?

Spirulina Vs. Chlorella

Both of them are waterborne organisms. But they are quite different from each other at the cellular level. Of course, the benefits of spirulina are incredible as well.

While both contain high levels of protein for energy, where they differ is in the specific nutrients they contain in abundance. Spirulina is quite rich in vitamin A – just a single dose can treat vitamin A deficiency.

On the other hand, chlorella is a step ahead as it contains phytonutrientsi  Natural compounds or substances produced by plants with anticancer and cardio-protective properties. and phytochemicals that help in detoxification and also boost immunity.

Chlorella seems to be far more nutritious than its cousin. And yes, we suggest you keep one thing in mind – chlorella’s tough exterior walls are not easy to digest. So, if you are buying chlorella supplements, ensure you go for the ‘cracked cell wall chlorella’ variety for easy digestion.

Chlorella and chlorophyll are often confused due to similar-sounding names. However, there are key differences between the two. Find out more in the next section.

Chlorella Vs. Chlorophyll

Chlorella is a single-celled green algae found in freshwater bodies. Its high nutritional content makes it a popular dietary supplement. Chlorophyll, on the other hand, is a green pigment found in plants that is essential for photosynthesis.

Chlorella is rich in essential proteins, vitamins, and minerals that may boost immune function (11). Chlorophyll may help in wound healing and combat oxidative stress (12). Lastly, chlorella is often consumed in tablet or powdered form, while chlorophyll is consumed as liquid drops, capsules, powder, or chewing gum.

Let’s now take a look at the nutritional spectrum of this so-called superfood, chlorella.

What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Chlorella?

Protein
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Protein58.4 g117%
Vitamins
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Vitamin A51300IU1026%
Vitamin C10.4 mg17%
Vitamin D~~
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)1.5 mg8%
Vitamin K~~
Thiamin1.7 mg113%
Riboflavin4.3 mg253%
Niacin23.8 mg119%
Vitamin B61.4 mg70%
Folate94.0 mcg24 %
Vitamin B120.1 mcg2%
Pantothenic Acid1.1mg11%
Choline~
Betaine~
Minerals
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calcium221 mg22%
Iron130 mg722%
Magnesium315 mg79%
Phosphorus895 mg90%
Potassium~~
Sodium~~
Zinc71.0 mg473%
Copper~~
Manganese~~
Selenium~~
Fluoride~

Pretty impressive, isn’t it? But how do you take chlorella, and how much?

What About The Dosage?

As we don’t know how much of chlorella one needs to take to avail its benefits, there is no specific dosage as such. However, while certain studies have found benefits with 1.2 grams of chlorella a day, others required as much as 7 to 10 grams.

But considering the research, most studies indicate a daily dosage of 2 to 3 grams. Make sure to start off with a low dose and slowly increase it.

You can take chlorella either as a powder or a tablet (supplement). If you are taking the powder, use it in a smoothie. Add half a teaspoon of chlorella to a banana smoothie, along with lime juice, protein powder, and coconut water. Adding these ingredients also helps hide the strong taste of chlorella.

If you are using tablets, you can take 3 to 6 of them, once to thrice a day (but check the packaging instructions too).

protip_icon Quick Tip
You can add chlorella to acidic foods like miso soups, vinaigrette dressings, or wheatgrass to help mask its strong and distinct smell.

Taking chlorella sure is simple, isn’t it? But we would like to tell you that not everything about it is rosy. Chlorella can cause some undesirable effects too.

What Are The Side Effects Of Chlorella?

  • Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding

There is not enough information on this. Hence, avoid chlorella intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

  • Issues With Immunodeficiency

In people with a weak immune system, chlorella may cause bad bacteria to proliferate in the intestines – resulting in further complications.

  • Mold Allergies

Chlorella can cause allergies in people already allergic to molds.

  • Iodine Sensitivity

Since chlorella also contains iodine, it can cause reactions in people with iodine sensitivity.

  • May Cause Autoimmune Diseases

Since chlorella can cause the immune system to become more active, it can increase the risk of autoimmune conditions like multiple sclerosisi  An autoimmune disease that affects the central nervous system (brain, spinal cord, and optical nerves). , lupus, rheumatoid arthritisi  A chronic autoimmune and anti-inflammatory disease that mainly affects many joints at once and causes swelling and pain. , and other conditions.

Infographic: How To Use Chlorella For Skin And Hair

Chlorella is a green alga with numerous health benefits thanks to its nutrient-rich profile. Its benefits extend to the hair and skin, as it is replete with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein.

Check out the infographic for two DIY recipes with chlorella that you can use for skin and hair, respectively.

how to use chlorella for skin and hair (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

The benefits of chlorella are numerous. These benefits can be attributed to its beneficial nutrients. Chlorella aids in weight loss and diabetes treatment and improves cardiovascular, liver, and hair health. It reduces the risk of cancer and inflammation and promotes cellular detoxification. In addition, chlorella reduces body odor, helps fight candida, and effectively combats acne. However, it may cause issues in pregnancy and trigger immunodeficiency, mold allergies, iodine sensitivity, and autoimmune diseases. Hence, caution is advised.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where to buy chlorella?

You can procure chlorella from your nearest departmental store.

What is the chlorella growth factor?

Chlorella growth factor is a water-soluble extract of chlorella that contains amino acids, sugars, proteins, vitamins, peptides and nucleic acids. Most of the chlorella available in the US is processed and made into these liquid extracts.

Can you take chlorella and spirulina together?

Yes, taking both can have better benefits. You will get an abundance of protein as well.

Can I take Chlorella with medication?

Some medicines may interact with chlorella, perhaps changing their efficacy or leading to unfavorable side effects. The best person to provide you with advice on the safety and suitability of taking chlorella supplements with your particular drugs is your doctor.

Is chlorella a good source of dietary fiber?

Chlorella is a form of green algae that has a lot of fiber—2 grams per 100 grams, to be exact. Thus, it is crucial for preserving digestive health since these fibers can control bowel motions and ward off constipation.

Key Takeaways

  • Chlorella is a blue-green alga, rich in antioxidants that help prevent allergies and inflammations.
  • The beneficial compounds in chlorella aid in weight loss, diabetes treatment, and improve heart health.
  • The rich nutrition profile of chlorella may help combat and boost hair growth.
  • However, it may cause autoimmune diseases and iodine sensitivity in some people.
chlorella benefits

Image: Stable Diffusion/StyleCraze Design Team

Discover the wonders of chlorella and learn how to incorporate this incredible superfood into your daily diet. Watch this video to explore its benefits and get practical tips for using it effectively.

Personal Experience: Source

References

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. The good, the bad, and the algae”. NASA.
  2. Nutrigenomic studies of effects of…”. Journal of Medicinal Food.
  3. Beneficial effects of chlorella on glucose…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Therapeutic potentials of unicellular…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Anti-hypertensive effect of…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Cancer statistics, 2018”. US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Chlorella vulgaris triggers…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  8. How to avoid embarrassing…”. Dr. Mercola’s Health Blog.
  9. Investigation of the effects of…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  10. Inhibition of lipase and inflammator…”. US National Library of Medicine.
  11. Potential of Chlorella as a Dietary Supplement….”. US National Library of Medicine.
  12. Medicinal Uses of Chlorophyll…”. US National Library of Medicine.
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Sarah Spann

Sarah SpannAdv Dip (Nut Med), mATMS

Sarah Spann has 4 years of experience as a clinical nutritionist. She specializes in gut health and is based in Brisbane, Australia. She is dedicated to changing the paradigm of gut health and works with clients all over the world to help them get back the freedom, energy and confidence that their gut issues have taken away. Sarah is passionate...read full bio

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