Blue Spirulina Vs Green Spirulina: What’s The Difference And What’s Best For You

blue spirulina

Article at a glance:

  • Blue spirulina is extracted from regular or green spirulina and mainly contains phycocyanin.
  • The dark blue pigment-protein complex has been widely studied for its antioxidant power, and researchers have explored its anticancer potential.
  • Blue spirulina rose to popularity as a natural coloring for food and beverages because it has a milder smell and taste.


No one can deny spirulina’s health benefits, so it’s been the go-to supplement choice of many. But if you’re still hesitating because you’ve heard about the unusual smell and algae taste of green spirulina powder, there’s an alternative.

We introduce you to the blue spirulina. It can be a fantastic entry-level algae supplement for newbies because of its different characteristics from regular spirulina. Wondering if you can get the same nutritional benefits from both spirulina products despite the color difference? Let us answer that.


What Is Spirulina?


When you think of spirulina, you’ll most likely be reminded of green powder or green tablet supplements. Spirulina is one of the biomasses of cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, consumed by humans since the 16th century. The Aztecs harvested it from Lake Texcoco and used it as a food source which was believed to enhance the stamina and energy of messengers going on marathons.

It’s still a popular superfood today because it’s packed with nutrients, has low calories, may improve digestion, and is rich in protein. Spirulina is also filled with vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and amino acids that all contribute to its antioxidant effect and anti-inflammatory properties.

Spirulina mainly gets its blue-green color from two different natural pigments. It contains the photosynthetic green pigment chlorophyll, but its more active compound is the blue pigment called phycocyanin.

A nutritional analysis of spirulina, published in 2019, found there are 180 mg of phycocyanin and only 11 mg of chlorophyll in every gram of dried spirulina. It also contains carotenoid pigments but only 6 mg all in all per the sample size.


What Is Blue Spirulina?


After cultivation and before it’s packaged, spirulina processing generally involves four steps: harvesting, filtration, pressing, and drying. Good-quality spirulina supplements don’t undergo too much processing. That’s how its rich nutrients are preserved and how it turns into your favorite green superfood.

You’ll also notice that it has a blue hue because of phycocyanin. When this dark blue pigment is extracted from the traditional spirulina, you get blue spirulina. Phycocyanin, is a water-soluble component, and this pigment-protein complex has antioxidant properties. This is what makes it an excellent dietary supplement on its own.

What is blue spirulina powder good for? It has antioxidant properties that can help fight free radicals and inhibit oxidative stress damage, which can lead to heart disease and cancer.


What’s the Difference Between Green Spirulina and Blue Spirulina?


What’s the Difference Between Green Spirulina and Blue Spirulina?

The green spirulina you know is simply the traditional version of the superfood supplement. It comes from the Arthrospira platensis blue-green algae. When phycocyanin is extracted from the blue-green algae, that’s how you get blue spirulina.

Blue spirulina is mostly composed of phycocyanin. While it’s present in other blue-green algae, this pigment appears to be most prominently found in Arthrospira platensis or spirulina.


A Comparison of Blue vs Green Spirulina


Blue SpirulinaGreen Spirulina
AppearanceDeep blue colorDark green color
CompositionExtracted from the blue-green algae and mostly contains phycocyanin pigmentHas the full nutritional profile of blue-green algae, including other natural pigments chlorophyll and carotenoids
NutrientsPowerful antioxidant effects with some minerals and vitaminsIncludes all vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids from the blue-green algae
TasteMilder flavor and is easy to add as a natural food coloring for food and beveragesNoticeable earthy, seaweed-like taste but can also be added to food and drinks
Supplement FormMost commonly available in powder formEasy to find in tablet, capsule, and powder forms


Blue Spirulina vs Green Spirulina Nutrition Facts


Here’s how their nutritional values differ for every tablespoon (7 grams) of blue spirulina vs green spirulina:

Regular (Green) SpirulinaBlue Spirulina
Calories20 kcal15 kcal
Protein4 g3 g
Fat0.5 g0 g
Carbohydrates1.7 g1.5 g
Potassium95 mg90 mg
Iron2 mg3.2 mg

Regular green spirulina leads in terms of protein and potassium. Although blue spirulina has more iron with lower caloric value, that could be due to phycocyanin’s iron-binding characteristic as a pigment-protein complex.

But if you want the most vitamins and minerals from a supplement, you can benefit more from regular green spirulina. Some of the notable ones found in every gram of spirulina are:

  • 48 mcg Thiamine (vitamin B1)
  • 55 mcg Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • 5.8 mcg Beta carotene (provitamin A)
  • 15 mg Calcium
  • 10 mg Phosphorus
  • 3.7 mg Magnesium
  • 2.5 mg Sodium


Is Blue Spirulina Better Than Regular (Green) Spirulina?


While blue spirulina is a potent antioxidant, it can’t completely replace all the health benefits you can get from green spirulina. The green supplement contains all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals to help reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. The regular one is also a better choice if you want to benefit from a high protein content from blue-green algae.

However, blue spirulina can be your entry point to the wonders of algae supplements. Its mild taste and smell make adding to your daily diet easier.


How Blue Spirulina Benefits Your Health

The health benefits you can get from blue spirulina come from phycocyanin, but don’t rule out this natural blue pigment as a beneficial supplement just yet.

During various processes of metabolism, the body can produce free radicals. They can also enter the body through external sources we encounter daily, such as environmental pollutants, cigarette smoke, and harsh chemicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules, so the body needs enough antioxidants to neutralize them before causing damage through the phenomenon known as oxidative stress.

When the body doesn’t have enough antioxidants to fight oxidative stress and free radicals, it can develop severe health concerns like cancer and cardiovascular diseases. That’s why blue spirulina can be an important supplement like green spirulina. Phycocyanin has shown its ability to scavenge free radicals, supporting claims of its antioxidant effect. It also appeared to be effective in fighting lipid peroxidation, suggesting it has anti-inflammatory properties as well.

Researchers have also regarded phycocyanin as a great anticancer agent for its ability to boost immune system functions, inhibit cancer cell proliferation, and induce tumor cell apoptosis. A 2015 in vitro study found phycocyanin’s potential to impede the spread of breast cancer cells.


Does Blue Spirulina Taste Like Green Spirulina?


woman drinking blue spirulina smoothie

Green spirulina supplements with the best qualities have a tolerable smell and taste, but you should still expect a whiff of the sea or lake. Some people also get an earthy smell and flavor from regular spirulina. Blue spirulina, on the other hand, is much milder both in taste and smell. You’re less likely to get that seaweed-like flavor from this type of supplement, which gives it an advantage over green spirulina.

You may not even notice it at all once it’s mixed in your favorite food and beverages.


How to Include Blue Spirulina in Your Diet

Have you seen those trendy mermaid-themed drinks from your favorite coffee establishment? How about those enticing blue smoothies posted on social media? Blue spirulina may be the best food coloring you can use to create something fun and tasty, just like the ones you’ve seen on the Internet.

This phycocyanin-rich supplement is mostly sold in powder form, although you might find some rare capsule products. And that may be for the best because you’ll have many ways to use it as a healthy additive to your fruit shakes, smoothie bowls, and baked goods.


Which One Should You Get?

Do you want to enjoy the benefits of both? That should not be an issue at all. You can take them alternately if you do not exceed the daily recommended dose of 3 grams.

More importantly, whether you’re buying green or blue spirulina, it is crucial that you choose the right one. Do note that the FDA approves the consumption of spirulina but has no regulations in place for its manufacturing and processing.

You must only choose organic spirulina that is non-GMO and gluten-free. Check if it has a Good Manufacturing Practice Seal to ensure you buy from high-quality manufacturers. And check the ingredients on the label; there shouldn’t be additives, fillers, binders, or sugars.


Green vs Blue Spirulina: Which One’s for You?

If you’re in it for the full healthy profile of blue-green algae, the best choice would be the traditional spirulina that comes in green powder, tablets, or capsules. It’s packed with essential amino acids and fatty acids that aren’t naturally produced in the body.

On the other hand, blue spirulina can be an incredible supplement as well. It’s filled with phycocyanin, which has iron-binding properties and is a powerful antioxidant to fight oxidative stress that can lead to serious illnesses like cancer.

Both types will give you added nutrients you might not get from your typical diet. And supplementing with either one of them is much better than not having superfoods in your life.


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John Riedl

Simply put that’s why I’ve gone down the health journey of research and creating health brands.

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