Chlorella 101- Let’s Break Down this Aquatic Superfood


You might be surprised to learn that this green superfood, which seems to be all the buzz, is found in the ocean, and even in fresh water. Chlorella is a member of the green algae family and is a single cell freshwater/saltwater algae. Chlorella in its natural form cannot be consumed by humans, even though it’s jam packed with nutrients, as it has a hard cell wall. It must be taken in supplement form to reap the many benefits it provides; the cell wall must be shattered or cracked for all the nutrients to be absorbed. This is the reason a powder form of chlorella is the best option for human consumption.  


Well, that’s exactly what we are going to unpack today. Hopefully by the end of this quick read, you’ll understand why chlorella is a true green superfood that you do not want to go without. To prove this, consider the following: 

One of the main uses of chlorella is purification of wastewater, aka sewage. Research in the US has found that Chlorella is effective in ridding pollutants from wastewater, even at high levels. Okay, so why does that matter to you? You most likely don’t work or swim in a sewage plant, right?  

It matters because if chlorella can remove harmful elements like nitrogen and phosphorus from sewage, the natural question we want to ask is “what harmful things can it remove from my body?!” My deep dive into this powerful superfood led me to a report where researchers stated the following: When algae was used to clean wastewater, amazing benefits were guaranteed, such as a decrease in the formation of dangerous solid sludge.” (MDPI). * 

Without getting too gross, how many people out there could use a “decrease in the formation of dangerous solid sludge” in their bodies?? You get my point. If chlorella can be used in landfills and sewage plants to remove harmful toxins, why shouldn’t we be using it in our bodies for the exact same reason? Aren’t we exposed to hundreds if not thousands of chemicals, preservatives, contaminants, heavy metals, and poisons on a daily basis?  


Chlorella has amazing antioxidant properties and compounds which include chlorophyll, vitamin C, beta-carotene, lycopene, and lutein. These compounds help us to age better and prevent chronic disease. Research has even shown that chlorella is powerful enough to raise antioxidant levels in smokers, which is highly impressive.  

In addition, as I have already touched on, chlorella helps to remove harmful elements so it’s great at detoxing. It has been shown to remove harmful heavy metals such as cadmium and lead in animal studies.  

Chlorella can also help people with high blood pressure, as it promotes a healthy heart and kidney function, which is essential for normal blood pressure.  

It’s even been shown to improve aerobic endurance in some studies. A group of young adults who received six grams of chlorella daily for four weeks reported having increased endurance compared to that of the placebo group.  


  • Chlorella is extremely nutrient dense. It’s 60-70% protein and is a completeprotein due to it having all 9 essential amino acids.  

  • It’s high in iron and vitamin C, which supports energy and immunity. 

  • Chlorella is also a great source of Omega-3’s, which supports brain, nerve, and cardiovascular health.  

  • When taken regularly as a supplement, it can be a great source of fiber.  

Chlorella is so nutritious that even NASA has used it when sending astronauts to space. They have done a ton of research on the benefits of chlorella and have used it on many space missions. Obviously, they must be extremely selective in their food choice. It must have a long shelf life and be extremely high in nutrients to make the cut. Chlorella made this cut due to its high protein and amino acid content, which is even higher than beef!  


While they are both super beneficial, have impressive nutrient profiles, and both are from the algae family, the answer is no. They are not the same.

Chlorella is higher in fat and calories and has more omega- 3’s than spirulina. It’s also higher in iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, and riboflavin. Spirulina is high in riboflavin, thiamine, iron, copper, and may be slightly higher in protein. So basically, they are similar, but their nutritional make-up differs.  


The best way to take chlorella is in powder form. You can add it to water with a touch of lemon for flavor or add it to a smoothie or yogurt. Chlorella does have a “green taste,” which some people like and some people don’t. If you’re not a fan, a great way to mask the flavor and still get all the great green benefit is to add fruits such as bananas or mangos to your smoothie or yogurt. The sweetness will mask the green flavor, but in all honesty lemon masks the flavor the most and the best. You can cook with chlorella by adding it to homemade vinaigrettes and stir-fries. It’s even possible to add a couple of teaspoons to your recipe the next time you make a baked goods such as banana bread or any kind of muffin. Your food may take on a green tint, but that’s just proof of the nutrients it’s packed with!   Below is one of our favorite ways to enjoy chlorella.  

Favorite Chlorella Smoothie:

  • ½ cup dairy free plain or vanilla yogurt 
  • ½ banana 
  • ¼ cup frozen mango 
  • ½ cup almond milk, unsweetened 
  • 2 scoops or tablespoons of chlorella  
  • 7-10 cubes of ice 
  • Add all ingredients to a blender, blend and enjoy!


While Chlorella is a fairly new buzz product in some health food stores and research is still somewhat in the early stages, it’s clear that this is a powerful superfood that we all should be incorporating into our supplement program. I’ve been using chlorella in my nutrition clinic for nearly forty years and have seen huge benefits in my clients once they began taking it. I recommended my first bottle of chlorella around 1985. You must assume that if I’m still talking about it nearly forty years later, there is good reason.

Here's the bottom line and what you really need to know when it comes to chlorella: it helps to remove and shuttle toxins out of the body, it’s got a powerful nutrient punch, and is a great source of antioxidants minerals, and vitamins. All of this produces alkalinity in our bodies. I’ve said for decades now, “When you are green inside, you’re clean inside.” If you take enough chlorella, your poop will actually turn green! This is a great sign!!


It’s clear that there’s ample reason why so many people are talking about chlorella. While there isn’t ample research yet, chlorella is also believed to support immunity, cardiovascular health, and support blood sugar and cholesterol levels.  

Just remember: as you look to incorporate this powerhouse supplement into your regimen that not all chlorella’s are created equally. Make sure your green powder is coming from a reputable and credible source, is organic and most importantly, is not delivering small doses of chlorella. For example, 250-600 milligrams of chlorella would be considered a small dose. I highly recommend doses over 1,500 milligrams at minimum. And just for frame of reference, one 5 gram serving of chlorella is equal to approximately 6-8 large plates of mixed vegetables. Now THAT’S a health hack!!! 

In conclusion, chlorella is a great way to GET MORE GREEN!