Growing & processing of chlorella
Chlorealla thrives in tropical climates and can grown both in fresh water and salt water. Geco chlorella is grown on a small island off the coast of China, which is isolated from farming and industrialised areas. This eliminates the possibility that harmful contaminates from these industries will be found in the growing ponds of chlorella and final product – ensuring an organic product. Growing chlorella here is much more preferable to growing in Japan since the relatively recent Fukoshima nuclear disaster, which has caused much of the water in that region to become contaminated with radiation. This level of radiation will not only inhibit the chlorella growing, but will also be found in any chlorella produced from this region, which can damage the consumer. Although a product can still be considered ‘organic’ if it is grown in a higher than normal radiation, but this is not desirable for the consumer or for us as a producer.
– How chlorella is grown
Our chlorella is grown in ponds which are filled with deep ground fresh water, which is carefully filtered before use to ensure it is completely pure and free from contaminates. When growing our chlorella we ensure that no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers are used. This is because common herbicides used to grow some chlorella have been shown to impact the nutritional profile of the chlorella itself, particularly the chlorophyll and beta-carotene content (Karunyal Samuel, 1987), and there is speculation that these herbicides can also be damaging for our health. Only by avoiding the use of herbicides can you ensure that the nutritional profile of chlorella is as high as possible, and that it poses no threat to the health of the consumer. Pesticides are not used for growing our chlorella, because many common pesticides such as malathion have been shown to cause liver damage, even at low concentrations (Rozenn Josse et al, 2014). Although chlorella is washed to try and remove as much of the pesticides used as possible, there is inevitably residues on the final product, which can still cause damage to the liver of consumers. It is because of this that no pesticides are used in the production of our chlorella. In addition to the negative health implications of pesticides/ herbicides, they also can have a negative impact on the environment, and can disrupt food chains and cause eutrophication (Yann Hautier et al, 2009), which we want to avoid.
– Processing & preparing chlorella
In these natural optimal conditions chlorella will be ready to harvest after about one and a half months, and then it is ready to be processing into a fine powder. This is done by sieving the water with a fine mesh to capture the small cells of chlorella, and then rapidly drying. It is important to dry the chlorella as quickly as possible after harvest, because as soon as the product is harvested the nutrient profile will begin to decrease, which is true for all foods (Zdravko Šumić et al 2013). Once the chlorella is dried it must be milled, to break down the tough cellulose cell wall. This is a key aspect of the processing, because humans lack the cellulase enzyme (Agam Nangul et al, 2013), and so we are unable to break down the cell wall ourselves. Breaking down this cell wall makes all the nutrients in the chlorella bio-available – allowing the nutrients to be absorbed.
Nutrition in chlorella
Nutrition of chlorella can vary depending on growing conditions, including temperature, salinity, pH and nutrients available (Rekha Sharma et al, 2012) so quantity of nutrients can very in different growing conditions. The nutrition of Geco chlorella is as follows:
– – Fats (2.3g per 100g)
Chlorella is quite low in fat, which is typical of plant based foods. There are a variety of fats found in chlorella, but the most abundant are oleic acid (18% of total fat), alpha-linoleic acid (16% of total fat) and linoleic acid (12% of total fat) (Semih Otles et al, 2001).
Oleic acid (18%) belongs to the omega-9 group of fatty acids. Oleic acid is associated with cardio-protective effects, and can help lower circulating levels of LDL (Eduardo Lopez-Huertas, 2010). There is also speculation that this fatty acid can increase levels of HDL, although more research is needed to confirm this. Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) (16%) is the omega-3 fat which is most common in plants. ALA is essential for nerve health, and can be converted by the body into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which are the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. These omega-3 fatty acids are associated with reducing inflammation, promoting brain health, protecting the cardiovascular system and maintaining healthy joints (Danielle Swanson et al, 2012). Alpha-linoleic acid is considered the only essential omega-3 fatty acids, as our body is unable to synthesise it ourselves. Linoleic acid (12%) is an omega-6 fatty acids which is also abundant in many seed oils. It is associated with many health benefits from promoting wound healing to normal cell function, and is used in a variety of biological functions, but is already relatively abundant in modern diets.
Although only a small percentage of chlorella is made up fats, the fatty acid profile of chlorella is beneficial. The amount that you will receive per serving is unlikely to significantly impact your health, but will mildly increase the amount of beneficial fats in your diet. It is unlikely that you will consume chlorella for its fat content.
– – Protein (60.7g per 100g)
For a plant source, chlorella is extremely high in protein, with most plant source containing between 3g-30g per 100g. Even compared to animal sources 60.7g of protein per 100g is extremely high, and a 100g of beef steak will contain approximately 25g of protein, which is less than half that of chlorella. As all plant based protein, the protein in chlorella is an alkaline protein, which many people see as an advantage. Although clinical evidence for the benefits of an alkaline diet is lacking for most claims, there is much anecdotal evidence for health benefits of alkaline foods. The only clinically confirmed benefit of vegetable protein over animal protein is the protective effects against kidney stones (Neil A Breslau et al, 1988) (Shanlini et al, 2002), and it seems that animal protein does increase the acidic of urine.
A table of the amino acid profile of chlorella protein is displayed below.
Amino acid Amount per 100g Amount per 2 teaspoon serving (aprox 5g) Amount per 4 teaspoon serving (aprox 10g)
Alanine 3.37g 0.51g 1.02g
Arginine 4.22g 0.63g 1.26g
Aspartic acid 3.53g 0.53g 1.06g
Glutamic acid 6.6g 1g 2g
Glycine 3.34g 0.5g 1g
Histidie 1.17g 0.18g 0.36g
Isoleicine 2.98g 0.45g 0.9g
Leucine 5.27g 0.79g 1.58g
Methionine 0.89g 0.13g 0.26g
Proline 2.76g 0.41g 0.82g
Serine 2.38 0.36g 0.72g
Theronline 3.12g 0.46g 0.92g
Tryptophan 2.82g 0.42g 0.84g
Tyrosine 2.75g 0.41 0.82g
Valine 2.59g 0.39g 0.78g
– – Carbohydrates (13.8g per 100g)
Of the 13.8g of carbohydrates found in chlorella, 12.4g are fibre, which is a combination of digestible and indigestible complex carbohydrates. The digestible fibre will slowly be broken down by the digestive enzymes in the body, which will provide the body with a slow supply of energy. This type of energy is much more preferable to simple carbohydrates, as it will not cause energy fluctuations or stimulate significant insulin production which is associated with an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes (J Salas-Savado, 2011). The indigestible fibre will not be converted into energy, but will stay in the digestive system and form the stool. This kind of fibre is associated with helping to normalize circulating LDL levels (Thomas M.S Wolevera et al, 2003) (which in turn will lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease), protects the digestive system from radicals found in food, and helps to regulate the bowel.
– Micro-nutrients in chlorella
Although the macro-nutrient profile of chlorella is impressive, due to the small amounts that are typically consumed, they are unlikely to have a major impact on consumers health. The primary benefit of chlorella is in the micro-nutrient content, and below is a table of the most significant micro-nutrients found in 100g of chlorella, how much is in a 2 teaspoon serving and how this compares to your RDA.
Nutrient Amount per 100g Amount per 2 teaspoon serving (aprox 5g) percent RDA in 2 teaspoons (aprox 5g)
Beta-carotene 135mg 6.75mg 562.5%
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) 1.29 0.0065mg 6.45%
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) 3.1mg 0.16mg 14.09%
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 59mg 2.95mg 22.69%
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) 0.96mcg 0.048mcg 4%
Vitamin B7 (biotin) 10omcg 5mcg n/a
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) 0.5mg 0.025mg 1666.6%
Vitamin C 2.6mg 0.13mg 0.33%
Calcium 48.5mg 2.43mg 0.35%
Phosphorous 1200mg 60mg 6.67%
Iron 101mg 5.05mg 33.67%
Iodine 1mg 0.05mg 10%
Magnesium 10.4mg 0.52mg 0.19%
Zinc 2.2mg 0.11mg 2.2%
– – Beta-carotene
Chlorella is extremely high in beta-carotene, with one serving providing 6.75mg. To put this into perspective, a medium carrot (approximately 10g) provides 0.64mg of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene itself is a powerful antioxidant (P. Zhang et al, 2001), and so can help to protect the body against oxidative stress. Beta-carotene can also be converted into vitamin A in a 2:1 ratio (Guagwen Tang, 2010), which is a vital nutrient for the immune system and is associated with protecting against heart disease (Vince P Palace et al, 1999). With one serving of chlorella providing an abundance of beta-carotene (which can be converted into vitamin A) it is likely to significantly promote the immune system, protect the cardiovascular systems and help protect the body against oxidative stress. It is important to be aware that these biological systems are extremely complex, and rely on more nutrients than just beta–carotene/ vitamin A. This means that a deficiency of other nutrients may impact how beneficial the beta-carotene obtained from chlorella will be.
– – B Vitamins
Chlorella is abundant in B vitamins and contains 6 of the 8 types of B vitamins in significant quantities. B vitamins fulfil a vast range of roles in the body, and are vital for normal cell function, reproduction, hormone production and metabolism of fats/ carbohydrates (Flore Depeint et al, 2006). This makes them important in maintaining a healthy body, especially if you are particularly active. Uniquely, chlorella contains a biologically active form vitamin B12, which is extremely rare in to find in plant based foods. Not only does it contain vitamin B12, but one serving will provide the body with 1666% of your RDA, which makes chlorella an extremely valuable food for vegans, as vitamin B12 is only abundant in animal sourced foods.
– – Phosphorus
One serving of chlorella will provide the body will approximately 6.7% the amount required which is a significant amount, but means that phosphous will still need to be consumed from the rest of the diet in order to maintain a healthy body. Phosphorus is a major component of bone along with calcium (Igor Pravst, 2011), and so is needed to maintain bone strength and structure. Phosphorus is also needed for normal cell metabolism and structure, meaning it is a very important nutrient.
– – Iron
Chlorella contains a significant amount of iron, with one serving providing 33% of your RDA. The main function of iron in the body is to form haemoglobin, which allows the transport of oxygen throughout the body. (M.J. Semmelrock et al, 2012)
– – Iodine
Many sea plants are high in iodine, and chlorella is no exception, with one serving providing 10% of your RDA. Iodine is extremely important in the production of thyroid hormones (Peter Laurberg et al, 2010), and has also recently been associated with protective effects against cancer. A mild deficiency of iodine is quite common in people who follow typical western diets (Cunnane SC, 2005) which can lead to problems producing certain hormones. A sever deficiency of iodine has been shown to cause brain damage (Cunnane SC, 2005).
Chlorella is considered to be a complete food because it is incredibly nutrient dense. The macro-nutrient profile of chlorella is extremely beneficial for the body, with a variety of healthy fatty acids, an extremely high protein content, and the carbohydrate content being made up almost entirely made up of beneficial fibre. However, due to the small amounts which chlorella is consumed in, you are unlikely to experience any significant benefit from the fatty acids chlorella contains, and the protein/ carbohydrates impact on consumers healthy will be minimal.
Chlorella is also a valuable source of a number of vitamins and minerals, the most abundant of which are beta-carotene, B vitamins (including vitamin B12), phosphorus, iron and iodine. The combination of these micro-nutrients will undoubtedly help support a range of biological systems, protect against a number of ailments and promote overall health. However, chlorella alone is not enough to ensure a healthy body, and will only be effective in supporting a healthy diet.
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