Algae is an informal term for a large, diverse group of eukaryotic plants. Although algae plants share the same name, they are not necessarily closely related, meaning they are polyphyletic. Algae are simple nonflowering plants and include seaweeds and other single-celled plants.
Algae contains chlorophyll, but lacks proper stems, leaves, roots, and vascular tissues. This plant derives its energy both from photosynthesis and various methods of uptake of organic carbon.
Algae has a varied method of reproduction encompassing a wide range of reproductive methods, from simple asexual cell division to more complex types of sexual reproduction.
The main types of algae are: Xanthophyta (yellow-green algae), Paeophyta (brown algae), Rhodophyta (red algae), Chlorophyta (green algae), Pyrrophyta (fire algae), Chrysophyta (golden-brown algae), Euglenophyta (euglenoids), and Cyanobacterium (blue-green algae).
Xanthophyta is a unicellular plant that primarily occurs in fresh waters. Paeophyta are macroscopic seaweeds found in marine environments. Rhodophyta is a diverse plant of varied size that often lives in tropical waters. Microscopic Chlorophyta is abundant mostly in fresh waters, and includes the beneficial chlorella.
Pyrrophyta (fire algae), which is the cause of red tides, incorporates more than one thousand species of unicellular algae. Chrysophyta, which includes the highly diverse diatoms, can be found in both marine and fresh water. Cyanobacterium, also known as Cyanophyta, includes algae such as spirulina and can be found in most conceivable habitats.
Algae has many potential uses, it can be used as a pigment, for fertilizer, as a source of energy, a stabilizer, a source of nutrition, and as a benefit to human health.
Health Benefits of Algae
The health benefits of algae are vast. Two types of algae that can be the most beneficial are spirulina and chlorella.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is cultivated all across the world and can be consumed by both humans, as well as other animals. Spirulina can be found as a whole food and dietary supplement in various forms, as well as a feed supplement.
Chlorella is a rapidly multiplying single-cell green algae. It is often used as a health supplement and has been considered by many a good potential food source since when dried, it is high in nutrients, especially protein.
While spirulina and chlorella are both considered superfoods, nutrient-rich food that is especially beneficial for health and wellbeing, spirulina has higher amounts of iron and protein. It also contains calcium, zinc, potassium, vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6 and B-12, and all eight essential amino acids, making it one of the best options in helping to aide human health.
Organic blue-green algae such as spirulina, is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. This type of algae has high antioxidant activity making it a substance that could potentially helps a person’s body adapt to protect against stressors.
Additionally, studies have shown that this type of algae may even be able to promote human stem cell proliferation, which helps the body to repair itself after illnesses. Spirulina has also been shown to greatly reduce fatigue and almost immediately increase energy. Spirulina can be used for cardiovascular and liver health, to protect against the contraction of cancer and HIV, to aide those with chronic illnesses, and even as an allergy relief.
There are many ways to start incorporating algae into your diet. Some of the most common ways are by purchasing store bought supplements and spirulina, or other algae powders that can be used in smoothies, meals, energy bites, and dressings.
Algae extracts are also found in many green powder drinks that you can get from a nearby supermarket, health food store, or online. Drinks, such as Athletic Greens, Total Living Drink Greens, Shakeology and more, are an easy and reliable way to start receiving all the health benefits that algae can offer.