On Nutrition: Spirulina, green tea and potential benefits

Reading this column in the Louis Post-Dispatch, Richard D writes: “I am 82 years old and in good health compared to most men my age. Spirulina – I recently started adding 1/2 teaspoon to my breakfast. What are your thoughts on this? Green tea — I started drinking it because it was supposedly beneficial. How can a person know if it is useful or not?

Since I have osteopenia, my endocrinologist wants me to eat more protein and reduce the amount of green leafy vegetables. Have you written an article on the nutritional value of beans? You write very clearly to understand the subject. It wouldn’t surprise me if your minor is English or literature.”

You seem to be taking good care of yourself, Richard. Let’s solve your questions. Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae organism that lives in water and produces energy from the sun. A recent review in the journal Molecules gives spirulina a nutritious thumbs up. It is high in protein and other essential nutrients, including vitamin B12, which is often lacking in plant-based diets.

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Spirulina also contains a number of compounds that help the body fight inflammation and boost the immune system. Extracts of its blue-green pigments are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as natural color additives for a variety of foods and confectionery. And get this, NASA used spirulina as a nutritional supplement for astronauts.

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However, some caveats remain. People with autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis or taking immunosuppressive drugs should avoid spirulina supplements because of its immunostimulating effect. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and young children should avoid it, as some unregulated products may contain unwanted contaminants.

How can you tell if green tea is beneficial? As we know that seat belts save lives. Studies have shown that green tea (and other types of tea derived from the Camellia sinensis plant) can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and even protect against cancer and other chronic diseases. By the way, green, black and oolong teas are from the same plant; they are just handled differently.

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Yes, I wrote a column recently on the value of beans. If your article has not been published, you can access it at www.montereyherald.com.

Thanks for the compliment, but my minor was cowboys, not English literature. Before I changed my food science and nutrition major as a sophomore, I had hopes of becoming a sophomore teacher. Perhaps this limit in education has helped.

Barbara Intermill is a registered dietitian nutritionist and syndicated columnist. She is the author of “Quinn-Essential Nutrition: The Uncomplicated Science of Eating” she. she email him at: [email protected]


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