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What is the nutritive value of spirulina?

Q: Is the claim relating to food value or nutrient content of Spirulina correct? If yes, then how does it fare vis-a-vis an egg? Does Flax seed contain omega-3? I take flax seeds whole and chew them and then swallow with water. Is this the right way? What is the optimum quantity?

A:Spirulina (cyanobacteria) is referred to for convenience as blue-green algae. Its nutritive content - a balanced protein composition, the presence of rare essential lipids, numerous minerals and even Vitamin B12 have lead to its popularity as a food supplement. The protein content of spirulina varies between 50% and 70% of its dry weight while the best sources of vegetable protein achieve only half these levels; for example, soya flour contains only 35% crude protein. From a qualitative point of view, spirulina proteins are complete, since all the essential amino acids are present, forming 47% of total protein weight. The utilisation of ingested proteins is determined by digestibility, i.e. the proportion of protein nitrogen absorbed and by the amino acid composition. The very high digestibility of its proteins (83-90% in ordinary dried spirulina, as against 95.1% for pure casein) makes the NPU value of spirulina at between 53% and 61%, or 85-92% of that of casein. Protein efficiency ratio (PER) is the weight gain of an individual, divided by the weight of proteins ingested. The PER value for spirulina determined in growing rats is estimated between 1.80 and 2.6 as against a PER value for casein of 2.5.

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