The evidence we have found, certainly suggests this to be the case*. The Greek study (below), in particular, presents some encouraging data to help answer, does spirulina help lower cholesterol. This blog explores the question, however, before we look at the detail of the spirulina super food and cholesterol; let us take a quick look at some other better known foods, that some suggest, help to reduce high cholesterol levels.
Which Foods Help With Raised Cholesterol Levels?
A wide range of foods are suggested as being effective to help reduce cholesterol. Among them; Avocados, Beans, Dark Chocolate & Cocoa, Fatty Fish, Fruits & Berries, Garlic, Nuts, Soybeans, Vegetables and Whole Grains such as Oats.
The Benefits Of Spirulina Are Less Well Known
Our research indicates and described in more detail below, that all of these can be helpful to add to your diet, to help you support your efforts to reduce high cholesterol. Spirulina is less well-known in this regard. However, once you understand that spirulina is loaded in protein and minerals, perhaps it shouldn’t be?
Astonishingly, 3 grams of spirulina is regarded as roughly the equivalent of 3kg of fruit and vegetables in terms of nutrients. Check out what this scientist has to say:
Check our Spirulina FAQs here.
Or put another way, 1 teaspoon of Spirulina Is The Equivalent of 5 Servings of Fruits & Vegetables (11) !
Evidence from Greece
A 2014 study (10) from Greece demonstrated that at just 1 gram of spirulina a day, involving 52 people, over a 12-week period, spirulina significantly reduced low density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL) described as “bad” cholesterol but did not impact on the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, the so called “good” cholesterol.
So How Does Spirulina Compare To Other Foods & Supplements?
Eating one a day, Avocados have been shown to reduce cholesterol levels. Check out the evidence for yourself from this 2015 study (2) which demonstrated the effects of avocados on cholesterol. For those that can afford them on a regular basis, this is clearly a good option. However, as delicious as Avocados are, depending on where you live, they can be a fairly expensive option to add to your diet on a daily basis.
A 2014 study (1) demonstrated how a daily serving of dietary pulses such as beans, chickpeas, lentils and peas, legumes such as peas and lentils can help you to lower “bad” levels of LDL. For many people, these are more accessible foods to consume but if you eat a lot of beans there is of course the effect that we are all familiar with!
Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
This option sounds too good to be true! Providing the cocoa content is 75-85%, studies (8) have described how it can reduce cholesterol. But be careful with the sugar content, or you may end up gaining weight! All the more reason to have a regular dose of spirulina, to help control your sugar and weight levels.
In particular “fatty” fish, such as salmon and mackerel are very good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, known to be very good to boost the “good” HDL cholesterol and demonstrated to lower inflammation and stroke risk. However, for many people, regularly eating salmon or even mackerel are expensive options.
Fruits & Berries
Fruits & Berries contain a soluble fibre called pectin that is known to reduce cholesterol and is found in apples, grapes, citrus fruits and strawberries. In common with spirulina, they are also known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects (6) too. Great if you can afford to eat these regularly, and can obtain them over different seasons. They are a delicious and healthy option, but for many people, they may not always be available either for cost or supply reasons.
For centuries, garlic has been used as an ingredient in cooking and for medicine. Studies (8) have shown that it may lower total bad “LDL” cholesterol. But eating it daily? What about the smell on your breathe?
Nuts, (3) in particular almonds & walnuts have been found in various studies to help reduce cholesterol. Whilst nuts are typically available throughout the year, the regular consumption of nuts might also be quite an expensive option for your weekly shopping. And is it a practical option? 67 grams of nuts a day to achieve the sort of results highlighted in the study?
Whilst the evidence for nuts suggests they can help you, a daily dose of just 1 gram of spirulina is 3 times as effective and overall a much cheaper option.
Soybeans may also be helpful to help reduce cholesterol. A review of 35 studies (9) indicated that those who consume soybeans regularly also saw some reduced cholesterol levels. But, once again, less than spirulina.
Other Fruits and Vegetables
We are also encouraged to eat vegetables rich in antioxidants that are known to help reduce cholesterol. Among those you will find recommended, include apples, broccoli, carrots, grapes, onions, cabbage, red peppers & tomatoes. However, once again, much will depend on your budget and seasonal variations. Make sure you eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables but check out that vegetable comparison chart! Spirulina can be taken as supplement tablets or added as powder into smoothies or stews.
Why not add a gram a day to your diet?
A summary of 45 studies (4) have found that people eating three daily servings of whole grains each day had a “20%” lower risk of heart disease and stroke and “seemed to be better with more servings consumed”. This is arguably one of the most accessible option in terms of price.
So What Other Evidence Is There For Spirulina And Cholesterol?
It’s not just the Greek study. Various other studies have highlighted the benefits of Spirulina to help reduce cholesterol. In the first ever human study (12) in 1988, involving spirulina, 15 male volunteers were given 4.2 grams of Spirulina a day. Whilst there was no significant increase in HDL levels, (the good cholesterol) a significant reduction of high-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol was noticed after 8 weeks of taking the spirulina.
And In 1995 there was an Indian study (3) that confirmed the 1988 study. In the 1995 study, heart patients were given Spirulina supplements finding a “significant reduction in blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL “bad” cholesterol. However, this time, they noticed an increase in HDL “good” cholesterol. So just like Avocados!
Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
A 2015 study, again from India (14) that focused on how spirulina might help reduce blood sugar levels (it does*) further confirmed the 1995 study regarding cholesterol. Not only did they record a reduction in blood sugar levels, they noticed, “a significant reduction” in “bad “cholesterol after 2 months of taking 2 grams of spirulina supplements a day.
These studies invariably end with a call for more “research”. But the competition for research funds is fierce. Ask yourself; where is the incentive to encourage people to consume more of a super food when big Pharma make a fortune out of cholesterol drugs? In 2016 that market was worth US$19.3 billion. This compares to the global avocado processing market of only US2.7 billion.
Please Carefully Note
We are not encouraging you to stop taking Doctor prescribed cholesterol medication. However, you may wish to check with your Doctor or health care professional whether it is appropriate for you to add spirulina to your food diet?
Depending on your personal medical circumstances, it might help you.
US Standards & Spirulina
Spirulina is listed by the US Food & Drug Administration under the category of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS), as “many toxicological studies have proven Spirulina‘s safety”. You can check this for yourself via this click through at paragraph 1.
Check With Your Doctor Or Medical Professional
We always recommend that you check with your Doctor or medical professional before taking the spirulina super food, in particular if you have any pre-existing conditions. Most people have no difficulty with spirulina but there are a few exceptions which are described on our “what is spirulina about page”.
Build Up Taking Spirulina Slowly
After any detox you may experience, which is why you see a few people online complaining “it made me sick”, or more likely, they bought cheap contaminated spirulina, you are likely to be astounded at your increased energy levels. And you may also experience other benefits that we describe in our FAQs.
Signs of High Cholesterol
Not sure about your own cholesterol levels? This click through might be helpful to you. Oh, and please check with your doctor or medical professional.
So, does Spirulina Help Lower Cholesterol?
We believe the evidence presented in the studies suggests this. Why not try some for yourself, after of course, you have checked with your doctor or medical professional that it is right for you with any pre-existing conditions that you may have*.
Remember, Spirulina is a super food, not a medication.
The Origin of Spirulina
Spirulina FAQs can be found here
(1). “Effect of Dietary Pulse Intake on Established Therapeutic Lipid Targets for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction”
(2) “Effect of a Moderate Fat Diet With & Without Avocados in Overweight and Obese Adults”
(3) “Nut Consumption & Blood Lipid Levels: An analysis of 25 Trials”
(4) “Whole Grain Consumption & Risk of Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, &…”
(5) “Cholesterol-lowering Properties of Different Pectin Types….”
(6) “Berries and Related Fruits”
(7) “Effects of Cocoa Products/Dark Chocolate on Serum Lipids”
(8) “An umbrella review of garlic intake…”
(9) “Soya Products and Serum Lipids”…
(10) “The Hypolipidaemic Effects of Spirulina (A…. P….) Supplementation in a Cretan Population”
(11) Gerald Cysewski, PhD, co-author of The Hawaiian Spirulina Equation.
(12) “Spirulina in Clinical Practice: Evidence-Based Human Applications”
(13) Effect of Supplementation of Spirulina on Hypercholesterolemic Patients.
(14) Studies on the Long-Term Effect of Spirulina Supplementation on Serum Lipid Profile
* Please visit our About page. Nothing on this website should be interpreted as personal medical advice. Always consult a qualified Doctor or health care professional before changing anything related to your healthcare.