Top Green Superfoods: Chlorella vs Spirulina vs Moringa vs Wheatgrass

There are so many amazing green superfoods available out there. They’re now widely available in a variety of products, including protein powders, energy bars, greens powders, and more. You’ve probably often heard about it but don’t know what’s the difference between them.

In this article, we compiled facts, benefits and differences between Chlorella, Spirulina, Moringa and Wheatgrass. Four of the most popular green superfoods on the market today!

NUTRITIONAL VALUE: Chlorella, Spirulina, Moringa, Wheatgrass

Chlorella

Chlorella - Top Green Superfoods
image from iStock.com

Chlorella is a green, unicellular alga that contains various nutrients. There are around 30 different species of chlorella, but the two most often used in research are Chlorella vulgaris and Chlorella pyrenoidosa.

Chorella supplementation, according to researchers, may help the body remove toxins, as well as enhance cholesterol and blood sugar levels, among other health benefits.

What Nutrients Are in Chlorella?

Chlorella products contain large amount of good quality protein, dietary fibers, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as α-linolenic and linoleic acids. Chlorella products, in particular, contain vitamins D2 and B12, which are not found in plant-based diets, as well as higher levels of folate and iron than other plant-based foods.

Oral Chlorella supplementation (6 g/day) for 12–18 weeks decreased markers of anemia in a group of 32 women in their second and third trimesters of pregnancy, indicating that Chlorella supplementation considerably lowers the risk of pregnancy-associated anemia.

Spirulina

Spirulina
image from iStock.com

Spirulina, also known as Arthrospira platensis is a blue-green alga which also has many nutrients. It includes phycocyanin, a strong plant-based protein. This has antioxidant, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and brain-protective properties, according to research.

Several clinical trials also indicated that Spirulina has positive effects in managing metabolic syndrome components.

What Nutrients Are in Spirulina?

In humans, this alga provides an important staple food with any significant side effects. Apart from the high protein content (up to 70%), it also contains vitamins, particularly B12 and provitamin A (-carotenes), as well as minerals, especially iron. It also contains phenolic acids, tocopherols, and -linolenic acid in abundance. Since spirulina lacks cellulose cell walls, it is easily digestible. (Source)


Spirulina contains several active ingredients, notably phycocyanin and β-carotene that have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. (Source)

i. Chlorella vs Spirulina

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of these algae contains the following (Source, Source):

Chlorella vs Spirulina

From the table above, we can conclude that both protein, carbohydrate, and fat composition are quite similar. But there are significant nutritional variances in their calorie, vitamin, and mineral amounts.

Chlorella has a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A, riboflavin, iron, and zinc. Spirulina has more thiamine, copper, and potentially more protein.

Moringa

Moringa oleifera leaf
image from agrifood.id

Moringa oleifera is a medicinal plant that originated in India. This plant is also called the drumstick tree, the miracle tree, the ben oil tree, or the horseradish tree. Moringa offers many health benefits like antifungal, antiviral, antidepressant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

What Nutrients Are in Moringa?

Moringa plants contain a variety of nutrients. Beta-carotene and other antioxidants are abundant in Moringa oleifera. These antioxidants aid in the prevention of heart disease, cancer, immune system deficiencies, and inflammatory diseases.

Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6, Vitamin C, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Zinc, and Amino Acids are also abundant in Moringa.

ii. Moringa vs Spirulina

For this Spirulina vs Moringa, this table shows compatison of 10g (about 1 tablespoon) powder of each. (Source)
Moringa vs Spirulina

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass
image from iStock.com

Wheatgrass is the young wheat plant’s green leaves. While there are many different types of wheat, the most common is Triticum aestivum. It is abundant of vitamins and minerals and is widely available in juice bars and health food stores (as powdered and supplement form).

What Nutrients Are in Wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass, like all green plants, contains chlorophyll, a type of green plant pigment linked to a variety of health advantages. Moreover, Vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids, are particularly abundant in wheatgrass.

Eight of the 17 amino acids are considered essential, which means your body can’t make them and you have to get them from diet.


BENEFITS : Chlorella, Spirulina, Moringa, Wheatgrass

a. Antioxidant Effects

Antioxidants are molecules that may protect your cells against free radicals, which has been linked to heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Antioxidants protect tissue from free radical damage by inhibiting radical production, scavenging radicals, or encouraging their decomposition.

Spirulina and Antioxidant Effects
C-Phycocyanin (C-PC) is one of the major biliproteins of Spirulina with antioxidant and radical scavenging properties.

A study evaluated the effect of spirulina intervention on oxidative stress, antioxidant status, and lipid profile of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) patients. They found that the antioxidant status and lipid profile of COPD patients are proven to be improved through an interventional 2 months course of spirulina. Oxidative stress is shown to be reduced as a result of spirulina intervention.

Chlorella and Antioxidant Effects
Chlorella contains chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene and lutein, which are considered antioxidants.

A study found that chlorella supplementation resulted in the conservation of plasma antioxidant nutrient status and improvement in erythrocyte antioxidant enzyme activities in subjects.

Moringa and Antioxidant Effects
A present study suggests that the extracts of Moringa oleifera both mature and tender leaves have potent antioxidant activity against free radicals, prevent oxidative damage to major biomolecules and afford significant protection against oxidative damage.

Wheatgrass and Antioxidant Effects
In addition to spirulina, chlorella and moringa, wheatgrass has also shown that it can be a powerful antioxidant due to its free radical scavenging activity, and it can be utilized to relieve stress and nourish human health.

b. Anti Cancer Effect

Spirulina and Anti Cancer Effects
Another study also suggests spirulina may have anti-cancer properties. A first report of the in vivo chemopreventive effect of Spirulina platensis against dibutyl nitrosamine(DBN)-induced rat liver cytotoxicity and carcinogenesis, suggesting its potential use in chemoprevention of cancer.

Chlorella and Anti Cancer Effects

A study showed that chlorella vulgaris may have anti-cancer effects by inducing apoptosis signaling cascades via an increased expression of P53, Bax and caspase-3 proteins and through a reduction of Bcl-2 protein, which subsequently lead to increased DNA damage and apoptosis.

Moringa and Anti Cancer Effects

A study provides growing evidence for Moringa extracts’ potential as anti-cancer candidates and open a new vista for molecular analysis of their actions on the predominant signaling mechanisms responsible for cancer development. Therefore, Moringa extracts may represent a valuable therapeutic approach for aggressive breast, liver, and colorectal carcinomas.

Wheatgrass and Anti Cancer Effects
Wheatgrass showed promise in animal studies as a cancer preventative and therapy adjuvant, as well as advantages to immunological activity and oxidative stress. Wheatgrass has been shown in clinical trials to have synergistic advantages with chemotherapy and to reduce chemotherapy-related side effects. However, further studies are still needed to confirm this findings.

c. Cardiovascular Health

High blood pressure and high cholesterol levels are two of the most important risk factors in atherosclerosis, the leading cause of heart attacks. Maintaining and monitoring your cholesterol levels and your blood pressure will help lower your risk for heart disease.

Spirulina and Cholesterol-Lowering Effects
Ramamoorthy and Premakumari in a more recent study administered Spirulina supplements in ischemic heart disease patients and found a significant reduction in blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol and an increase in HDL cholesterol.

Chlorella and Antihypertensive Effects
A study concluded that Chlorella supplementation improves total cholesterol levels, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels, systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and fasting blood glucose levels.

Moringa and Antihypertensive Effects
An animal study suggests that moringa oleifera leaf may be potentially useful as a natural product against hypertension. The found that the antihypertensive effect of MOE in hypertensive rats may be mediated by alleviating vascular dysfunction and oxidative stress and promoting endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation.

Wheatgrass and Antihypertensive Effects
Wheatgrass has been shown in several animal studies to help lower cholesterol levels, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Wheatgrass has been shown to decrease LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the same way that the cholesterol-lowering drug atorvastatin does. However, human studies are still needed to confirm this findings.

d. Effects on Diabetes

Patients with type 2 diabetes have high blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, and low insulin sensitivity, which can lead to significant complications.

Spirulina and Diabetes
A study aimed to evaluate the hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic role of Spirulina, showed that Spirulina supplementation can help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugar levels and improve their lipid profile.


Chlorella and Diabetes
Another study was conducted in 28 borderline-diabetic participants treated with either Chlorella (8 g/day) or placebo for 12 weeks. They found that the mRNA expression level of resistin, an insulin resistance inducer, was significantly lower in the Chlorella group than in the placebo group and correlated with the expression levels of hemoglobin A1c, tumor necrosis factor-a, and interleukin-6, all of which are involved in glucose metabolism and/or inflammation.

Moringa and Diabetes
A study suggests that consumption of M. oleifera powder leaves could be beneficial in the diabetes mellitus rat model over glucose values and enterobacterias enumeration. However further research is still needed.

Wheatgrass and Diabetes
The present study clearly concluded that ethanol extract of wheatgrass possesses the ability to control blood glucose in diabetes. Its antihyperglycemic and free radical scavenging property has potential to prevent diabetic-associated complications. However, this study is limited by its animal model design and further investigations are to be done to infer clinical correlations to humans.

e. Weight Loss

Chlorella Benefits for Weight Loss
Chlorella may have an effect on how fat cells behave in the body, therefore it may help with weight loss.

Chlorella appears to have good health benefits on slightly hypercholesterolemic subjects’ blood lipid profiles, at least in part by improving serum carotenoid profiles. According to one study, the possible effects of Chlorella on serum lipids might be caused by a suppression of intestinal lipid absorption attributable to increased levels of highly polar carotenoids from Chlorella. However, further studies are required to determine this finding.

Spirulina Benefits for Weight Loss
According to a study, spirulina platensis, as a supplemental therapy, may help with adherence to restricted calorie diet, weight loss management, and triglyceride reduction via modulating anti-inflammatory pathways.

Another study found that consuming Spirulina maxima on a regular basis for three months improves BMI and weight. Furthermore, it improves blood pressure and endothelial function in overweight patients with hypertension.

Moringa Benefits for Weight Loss
Moringa powder can be used to make a weight-loss-friendly morning tea. In addition to weight loss, it can help you manage diabetes, hypertension and asthma. Moringa aids in the reduction of fat accumulation as well as fat breakdown.

Wheatgrass Benefits for Weight Loss
Wheatgrass, which is low in calories and fat, can help you lose weight and boost your metabolism. Moreover, wheatgrass is a nutrient-dense diet, which causes many people to feel filled faster and longer. This can help you reduce your cravings for sugary or fatty foods.

f. Detoxification

Both algae (spirulina and chlorella), wheatgrass and moringa have been shown to be successful in detoxification. Most supplements for heavy metal detox contain at least of them. In addition, they are unlikely cause adverse effects.

g. Respiratory Health

Chlorella for Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
A study examining the effect Chorella Vulgaris extract (CVE) on the severity of clinical symptoms of asthma and COPD, found that the rate of improvement in the severity and frequency of sputum brought up and wheezing was significantly greater in the CVE group compared to the control group. (Source)

Spirulina for Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
A study has concluded with the antioxidant status and lipid profile of COPD patients are proven to be improved through an interventional 2 months course of spirulina. Oxidative stress is shown to be reduced as a result of spirulina intervention.

Moringa Oleifera for Bronchial Asthma
A study suggests the usefulness of Moringa Oleifera in the treatment of bronchial asthma. It decreases in severity of symptoms of asthma and also simultaneous improvement in respiratory functions. Further, the hematological profile showed enhancement in the Hb level.

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FAQs

a. Should You Take a Greens Supplement on an Empty Stomach?

Some brands advice taking greens supplements on an empty stomach while others prefer to consume them before and after a workout. For optimum results, make sure to follow your supplement’s instructions.

b. How Long Does It Take for Greens to Start Working?

In general, two to three months should be sufficient to determine whether the supplements give you health benefits. However, many people notice a difference and have significant results after one or two weeks of consumption. But, if you experience any negative side effects, you should stop using the supplements immediately and best consult a doctor to determine which supplement is suitable for you.

c. Euglena vs Spirulina vs Chlorella?

Absorption rate: Euglena has no cell wall, so the digestion and absorption rate is very high. Both spirulina and chlorella have cell walls, and the absorption rate is lower than that of euglena.

Nutritional ingredients: Euglena has β-1,3-glucan, which can help improve constipation; it also contains DHA and EPA which are almost not found in spirulina and chlorella.

Safety: Chlorella has a high content of pheophytin, which is easy to cause photosensitivity. Spirulina is easily contaminated by toxins and heavy metals, and is a multicellular algae with high nucleic acid content, which is not friendly to gout patients. Euglena is a freshwater algae, which does not have the above-mentioned problems, and has a low pheophytin content, which is unlikely to cause photosensitivity.

Euglena is cultivated in freshwater by Ulve, which is a very critical point. Therefore, Euglena does not contain iodine. (Source)


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