At over 3 billion years old, Chlorella is one of the oldest known living foods on the planet, and yet, ironically, it is in many ways the perfect superfood for the modern world we live in. Once you understand the full spectrum of Chlorella’s extraordinary health benefits and the many ways that it helps to strengthen, rejuvenate and protect the body against the stresses of daily life in the 21st century, you’ll never want to live another day without this miraculous green algae.
Our bodies face unique challenges that we have never experienced before in human history, such as depleted soils, and hence the foods grown in them that are equally depleted of vitamins and minerals; toxic chemicals that are present in nearly everything—from what we eat to our water, clothing, homes and beyond; extraordinary levels of subtle stress from electromagnetic smog, computer screens, cell phones; and living in cramped, nature-deficient cities, among many other things. It can be downright disheartening when considered as a whole; but don’t worry because Chlorella is here to save the day, and as you will clearly see, it does a damn fine job of it to boot. As always, nature offers us a solution to the challenges we face in the form of plants and superfoods like Chlorella that are perfectly tailored to our modern lifestyles.
The Little Green Algae With Big Benefits
First discovered in 1890 with the advent of the microscope, Chlorella (scientific name: chlorella vulgaris) is a single-cell green microalgae, which makes it hard to see with the naked eye unless you have collected huge quantities of it, which, thankfully, the countless Chlorella algae farms around the world do to bring this incredible superfood to the masses. Chlorella gets its unusual name from its rich dark green color, which is due to its extraordinarily high chlorophyll content—one of the highest out of any food or plant on the planet to be exact. And it is this high chlorophyll content that is in part responsible for some of Chlorella’s health benefits; however, as you will quickly see, that’s really just the tip of the iceberg for what this little green algae can do.
The Health Benefits of Chlorella
Chlorella is often called the ‘‘king of superfoods’’ and is, in fact, so spectacular that NASA has done in-depth studies to assess it as a potential food to be fed to astronauts and grown in space during long interplanetary missions due to Chlorella’s high nutrient density and extraordinary medicinal properties. So just what exactly makes Chlorella algae powder so great for the body, mind and spirit? Let’s find out…
Cell Protectant: Repairs and Strengthens Your DNA
One of the most fascinating things about Chlorella is how fast it grows: every 20 to 24 hours it quadruples its numbers. In order to do that, it needs huge quantities of raw biological materials to manufacture new cells. Enter Chlorella Growth Factor (CGF). Chlorella Growth Factor is a special compound only found in Chlorella that is a mix of bioavailable nucleotides and peptides, which are the raw materials used in nature to build out new DNA and cell components across almost all life forms, including humans.
When you take Chlorella powder, you are supplying your body with large quantities of Chlorella Growth Factor, and hence raw nucleotides and peptides that your cells can also use to protect, repair and regenerate DNA and RNA, among other things. Normally your body must manufacture these things on its own; but when supplied by Chlorella Growth Factor, your body can just as easily use those, and that frees up extra energy in your cells to be used for other beneficial biological processes necessary to maintain and amplify health. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Chlorella’s benefits…
Anti-Aging and Longevity
Furthermore, studies have shown that in healthy human cells, Chlorella exerts a protective effect against free radical and oxidative stress damage, which are known to cause aging; and in older or already damaged cells, it exhibits bioremedial effects, meaning that it works to repair telomeres and damaged parts of the cellular DNA from the inside out.  This means that, according to existing medical knowledge, one of Chlorella’s benefits is that it should theoretically extend lifespan when taken regularly, although no extended human trials have taken place to date.
The Incredible Benefits of Chlorella: Nature’s Healthiest Foodsome of chlorella’s health benefits stem from its rich green color, a sign in of it’s extraordinarily high chlorophyll content. photo: nitsa citrine
Nutrient-Dense Superfood: Rich in Vitamins, Minerals, Proteins & More
If repairing, strengthening and protecting DNA from damage wasn’t enough, another amazing benefit of Chlorella algae is that it supplies your body and cells with abundant, high-quality nutrition in the form of highly bioavailable vitamins, minerals, proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and more—many of the essential ingredients your body needs on a daily basis to thrive and that can often be hard to get from normal foods.
What’s more is that Chlorella’s nutritional profile just happens to be extremely rich in some of the most hard-to-get nutrients, like vitamin B12 and zinc, which are essential for supporting mood, neurotransmitter levels, proper functioning of the brain, the nervous system, the sexual/reproductive system, the immune system and countless other body processes. In fact, Chlorella—a 100% vegan/vegetarian food—is arguably the richest source of these two nutrients on the planet, which normally are only found in high concentrations in meats and seafood.
Chlorella supplements are also rich in almost all the other B vitamins and minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron (for which it is, again, one of the best sources on the planet) as well as protein. Interestingly, Chlorella algae powder has a higher protein content by weight than almost any other food—it is 60% protein by mass, whereas most other foods that we consider high protein—like meat, beans and eggs—are typically on the order of around 20% to 40% or so. And, of course, not to be outdone by any other food, another of Chlorella’s health benefits is that it is a complete protein as well, meaning that it contains all the essential amino acids the body needs to produce copious amounts of feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin and build strong, healthy muscle and bodily tissues. In more ways than one, Chlorella is truly a complete food and lives up to its reputation as the king of superfoods.
Just as important as getting vitamins and minerals into your cells is getting harmful toxins and pollutants out; and, as you may have guessed, Chlorella does a fantastic job of that as well. In fact, one of Chlorella’s benefits is that it is widely known as one of the most effective detoxifiers of heavy metals, chemicals and radiation on the planet. This is in part because of Chlorella’s high chlorophyll content, which is one of nature’s most potent detoxifiers. Additionally, research has shown that Chlorella algae has other special compounds within its cell wall that also work to detoxify harmful chemicals and other unwanted substances from the body.
Essentially, Chlorella detoxifies the body by working to bind toxins as they are circulating in the digestive tract, making it a great thing to supplement with during meals. A few tablets or some Chlorella powder taken during, before or even after meals can theoretically capture and detox any toxins, heavy metals or chemicals present before they have a chance to be absorbed by your body. There is also some evidence to show that chlorophyll and other compounds in Chlorella algae work within the cells and tissues both directly and indirectly to expel toxins as well.
But perhaps even more impressive than Chlorella’s ability to bind toxins is its ability to protect cells from many types of radiation, which is an unusual property for a food. In multiple studies, mice fed Chlorella before or shortly after exposure to high levels of extremely lethal gamma rays were significantly protected from tissue and organ damage. In another study, cells were protected from gamma ray damage with chlorophyllin, which occurs in high levels in Chlorella and other green foods.
In a notable human trial on glioma cancer patients, Chlorella was shown to help protect the body from the effects of chemotherapy.  The study authors report that:
Our results with patients taking Chlorella, although limited, suggest that the cellular components and functions of the immune system remain at near-normal levels and are less adversely affected when patients are undergoing chemotherapy and/or taking immunosuppressive medications such as steroids.
Increases Probiotics Naturally
Another fascinating, health benefit of Chlorella is that it is also rich in prebiotic fiber. This is a special kind of fiber that is indigestible, which is a good thing because this allows it to act as food and fuel for the good probiotic bacteria in your gut, causing them to multiply rapidly and exponentially.
According to a Japanese study on the benefits of Chlorella, supplementation with it on an empty stomach effectively tripled probiotic bacteria concentrations in the gut within a very short period of time. 
Strengthens the Immune System
Due to Chlorella’s high concentrations of zinc, Chlorella Growth Factor and other essential vitamins and minerals, Chlorella nutrition has been observed to have a strengthening and protective effect on the immune system in both animals and humans.
In one recently published study it was found that after eight weeks of chlorella supplementation (five grams per day), natural killer (NK) cell activity measurably improved.  Natural killer cells are a type of white blood cell that is integral to the proper functioning of the immune system and certain protective activities such as fighting viruses and tumors.
Another study measuring the beneficial effects that Chlorella had on the immune systems of Japanese sailors found that supplementation with just two grams of Chlorella daily reduced the incidence of the common cold by 41% compared to the control group of sailors who were not taking it. 
According to the ancient Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda, Chlorella powder supplies ojas, which loosely translates to “vitality” or “life force.” In Ayurvedic philosophy, ojas is a sort of primordial life energy that we all possess that keeps us alive and healthy but can be depleted by age, stress, poor diet/nutrition, sexual excess, toxins and more. Ayurvedic doctors believe that certain building foods and herbs, such as Chlorella algae or ghee, among others, can resupply the body with ojas if it has been depleted or “top it up” in the case of those who are looking to further strengthen their already good health.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy, one of Chlorella’s benefits is that it supplies yin energy, which means that it is restorative at the deepest levels of the body, calming to the nervous system and generally rejuvenative and nourishing. Yin foods are the perfect antidote to our modern culture of hyper-stimulation and over-activity, which tend to imbalance us in the direction of excess yang energy (which is the opposite pole of yin energy).
What to Look for in a Quality Chlorella Supplement
If you are interested in taking Chlorella supplements there are a couple of very important things to look for that are markers of high-quality products. The first and foremost, which holds true for virtually any product that you put in your body, is that organic is best. This is especially true when it comes to getting the most benefit from Chlorella, as less reputable suppliers are known to cut corners with production standards. Organic Chlorella products must meet stringent minimum health and safety standards that prevent the vast majority of unethical practices and virtually eliminate all chemicals and synthetics from the growing process.
The second thing to look for in a quality Chlorella supplement is that the cell wall is broken using gentle methods described below. This is because the cell wall of Chlorella algae is very strong and robust and can’t be broken down fully in the digestive tract; so in order to release its storehouse of nutrition in Chlorella, the cell wall must be broken or cracked to release the nutrients within the Chlorella algal cells and give you the full benefit of the superfood. The ideal way to do this is with a non-nutrient destructive method such as using sound (which shatters the cell wall with vibration but leaves the rest of the algae unharmed) or other low-temperature technologies that do not damage the nutrients or introduce adulterants.
Another aspect to consider with Chlorella supplements is the country from which it is sourced. Generally speaking most countries are fairly good sources of Chlorella powder, with Taiwan, Korea, India and the U.S. being some of the best and cleanest on the whole; however, there is one country to be mindful of at the moment. In Japan, which has historically been an excellent source of Chlorella, the recent leak of high levels of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after the massive tsunami in 2010 has raised questions about the safety of Chlorella grown in certain parts of the country, as Chlorella tends to detoxify and bind radioactive particles.
Powder or Tablets?
Chlorella usually comes in either tablet/pill or powder form. As long as the Chlorella pills, tablets and powders are not adulterated with any additives whatsoever and only contain 100% Chlorella and nothing else, there is little to no difference between the two—it simply comes down to convenience and how you intend to use it. Obviously, Chlorella pills and tablets are not ideal for smoothies and tonics, although they can be more convenient in some instances, like on the go at restaurants if you are taking the Chlorella with every meal, which many doctors and health advocates recommend as a way to bind toxins in the food and strengthen digestion. Being a whole, natural food with extraordinary benefits, Chlorella is safe to take for virtually everyone; but as always with powerfully medicinal superfoods, start slow and work your way up to higher doses to give your body time to adjust.