Chlorella vs Spirulina: What’s the Difference?

There is a vast market available for people looking to turn to natural remedies and supplements to enhance their general well-being. 

With new options emerging regularly, the population is having a hard time understanding what they should use to cater to their own well-being. 

One particular type of supplement that has gained recognition recently is algae extract. 

Two of the most popular supplement options include chlorella and spirulina. 

In this chlorella vs spirulina comparison, we look at how they differ, while also focusing on some of the similarities. 

This makes it easier to determine which one may be the healthier and more beneficial option to consume. 

What Is Chlorella?

Chlorella is relatively new to the market, particularly when compared to Spirulina, which has been around for quite some time. 

A chlorella supplement has gained significant recognition in just a short period, boasting benefits that may assist with improving nutritional balance, helping with cholesterol, and even significantly enhancing the body’s antioxidant capabilities. 

Chlorella is a type of algae that is harvested from freshwater. The plant itself has a green appearance, similar to other types of algae. 

It is classified as a single-celled alga. It is important, however, to note that the term “chlorella” actually refers to more than 30 species of the plant. 

When it comes to using chlorella tablets or a chlorella powder supplement, the manufacturer will usually turn to one of two popular species of this plant. 

The two most common forms of chlorella that are used in the preparation of supplements include Chlorella pyrenoidosa and Chlorella Vulgaris. The Chlorella plant cannot be consumed raw or in its natural form. This is because the algae contain a hard outer shell that is not considered edible for the human body. 

Fortunately, several manufacturers use Chlorella in the production of supplements. In this case, the hard shell is removed, and the interior of the algae is used in the production of the product. 

You can find Chlorella supplements in many different forms. Chlorella powder is relatively popular, but some people also prefer to opt for a tablet as that makes the supplement very easy to consume. 

Chlorella is not only used as a nutritional supplement. There are also several scenarios where these particular algae are used to produce biodiesel fuel. This is a highly studied alga as well, particularly in terms of the potential health benefits it has to offer the body. 

What Is Spirulina?

Spirulina has been used as a health supplement for a longer period. This is also a type of algae, which is why many people make this particular comparison. The algae have a blue-green color, and it is mainly known for possessing powerful antioxidants

Spirulina is often classified as a type of superfood. This classification is contributed to by the large selection of nutrients available in the Spirulina algae. Spirulina is technically a biocollection of compounds known as cyanobacteria. It is considered safe for consumption among both animals and humans. 

Only certain species of Spirulina algae are used in the production of dietary supplements. These include Arthrospira maxima, Arthrospira fusiformis, and Arthrospira platensis. 

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5 Differences Between Chlorella And Spirulina

Chlorella and spirulina are both popular supplements used by the general population – with the primary aim of improving the body’s general well-being. While the two may look very similar in appearance, many vital differences exist between the two supplement options. 

This section focuses on the differences between Chlorella vs Spirulina, which can help a person understand what they should expect from each supplement option. 

1. History As A Supplement

The first difference comes into play when looking at the history of the two algae. Spirulina is considered an ancient natural remedy that has been used by Aztecs and ever since. This makes it the particular supplement with the longest history. 

Chlorella was initially used in the production of biodiesel fuels. The algae have only recently become a topic of interest among the nutraceutical market. 

2. Difference In Calorie Content

Another difference, particularly when looking at the nutritional content, is that chlorella and spirulina do not contain the same amount of calories. Spirulina is generally low in calories. 

On the other hand, Chlorella has a higher concentration of calories, which is something individuals might want to consider when they are looking to add the supplement to their daily diet. 

3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Both of these supplements contain a rich supply of omega 3 fatty acids. This essential fatty acid plays a role in various regions of the human body. 

While both Spirulina and Chlorella contain the particular polyunsaturated fat, Chlorella has a much higher concentration. This makes Chlorella the more ideal supplement for people who need to increase their intake of healthy fats. 

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4. Protein Content

Another difference between these two algae supplements is the amount of protein provided by each. 

Spirulina seems to have a higher concentration of protein per recommended serving when compared to the protein content of Chlorella. This can be a good option for people who need to increase their protein intake. 

5. Nutritional Content

There are also some differences in the nutritional content that can be observed among the two. Spirulina is high in riboflavin, copper, iron, and thiamine. 

On the other hand, Chlorella contains riboflavin, magnesium, zinc, iron, and provitamin A. 

5 Similarities Between Chlorella And Spirulina

There are also some similarities between the two. Let’s take a look at what both of these supplements can offer. 

1. Antioxidants

Regardless of the algae option a person opts for, both can provide the body access to high-quality and potent antioxidants. This enhances the antioxidant capacity of the body. 

2. Nutrients

There are a few specific nutrients that are shared among the two supplements. These nutrients primarily include riboflavin and iron, two essential vitamins and minerals that the body depends on. 

3. Blood Sugar Regulation

The compounds in Chlorella and Spirulina can assist with regulating blood sugar. This may help those individuals struggling to keep their blood glucose levels balanced. 

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4. Heart Health

The antioxidants and nutritional content of the two supplements also help improve heart health, while yielding protective properties at the same time. 

5. Both Are Algae

Another similarity is that both supplements are made from algae that naturally grow in water. 

Which One Is Healthier?

One of the two is not necessarily healthier than the other. Several studies show that the differences between the two are very minimal, but it does come down to your own specific needs and expectations. 

Both of the supplements should be avoided by people who have autoimmune conditions and those using blood-thinning medications. 

Which One Has More Health Benefits?

When it comes to balancing blood sugar levels and obtaining more omega-3, an essential fatty acid, Chlorella seems to be the superior option here. 

Chlorella Vulgaris does not contain saturated fats, but rather polyunsaturated fats. The inclusion of B vitamins helps add more benefits to the dietary supplement. 

Overall, Chlorella does seem to offer more benefits vs a Spirulina supplement, particularly in the nutrients department. The potent antioxidants in the plant also help to protect against oxidative stress

Conclusion

Chlorella vs Spirulina is a common comparison between two of the most popular forms of algae supplements. Both of these offer a wide range of unique benefits while also sharing some similarities. 

In some cases, Chlorella might be the more nutritious option, but this does not necessarily make it the healthiest choice among the two. 

Carefully consider your own needs and expectations to help you determine the most appropriate option for you.

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Sources

  1. Rosenberg, J., Kobayashi, N., Barnes, A., Noel, E., Betenbaugh, M., & Oyler, G. (2014). Comparative Analyses of Three Chlorella Species in Response to Light and Sugar Reveal Distinctive Lipid Accumulation Patterns in the Microalga C. sorokiniana. Plos ONE, 9(4), e92460. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0092460 
  2. Mao, G., Shi, K., Zhang, C., Li, J., Chen, S., & Wang, P. (2020). Biodiesel Fuel from Chlorella vulgaris and Effects of Its Low-Level Blends on the Performance, Emissions, and Combustion Characteristics of a Nonroad Diesel Engine. Journal Of Energy Engineering, 146(3). https://ascelibrary.org/doi/10.1061/%28ASCE%29EY.1943-7897.0000668
  3. Ou Y, Lin L, Yang X, Pan Q, Cheng X. Antidiabetic potential of phycocyanin: effects on KKAy mice. Pharm Biol. 2013 May. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23368938 

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