Before you turn your nose up at eating blue green algae – also called spirulina and Blue Majik – you should know it’s the superfood that’s responsible for the blue yummies on your Instagram feed. But this cyanobacteria, which is collected from the surface of lakes and ponds, is literally pond scum. And not only is it pretty, it has health benefits, too.
People have been eating this microalgae for centuries and it’s full of calcium, niacin, potassium, B vitamins and iron. Research suggests it can reduce inflammation as well as heart and liver disease. And it’s got more beta carotene than carrots and more chlorophyll than wheatgrass. So it’s no wonder the wellness community are all about spirulina.
But some experts aren’t so sure about it. Registered dietitian Sharon Zarabi agrees it’s “jam-packed with nutrients,” but cautions that you’d need to eat a whole bunch of it to get the same nutrients that you’d get from cheaper more accessible veggies. Plus, this stuff that creates the beautiful blue smoothie bowls and “mermaid” ice cream you’ve seen on Insta isn’t cheap.
And it has an earthy and fishy taste that has to be worked around. “It’s like pond water in your mouth,” admits Madi Murphy, who uses it in the unicorn latte at her coffeeshop. “It does not taste good at all, or smell good.”
But it’s pretty and when added to other ingredients, it creates something yummy and it’s healthier than the chemicals used to color food. Just remember, it is actual pond scum, so it does have its downsides.