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Blue-Green Algae Spirulina May Not be as Effective for Obese People

Spirulina supplements have been associated with a range of health benefits, including improved heart health, immunity, and weight loss. A recent study suggests, however, that at least two of those health benefits — improved cholesterol levels and markers of immune health — may not occur in obese people in the same way they do in people of normal weight.

Participants in the study included 78 mature Korean adults between the ages of 60 and 87. They were divided into a non-obese group and an obese group based on body mass index. Participants in each sub-group were given either 8 grams of spirulina per day or a placebo for 12 weeks.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers noted an average decrease of 8.4% in LDL cholesterol in the non-obese participants who took the spirulina, but no changes were noted in the obese group. The researchers also noted an average 33% increase in interleukin-2 levels — an anti-inflammatory cytokine that plays an important role in immune response — in the obese participants who consumed the spirulina. However, the results were even higher in the non-obese participants, who had an average 54% increase. The non-obese spirulina group also had a 21% reduction in interleukin-6 — a pro-inflammatory cytokine and anti-inflammatory myokine — compared with 15% in the obese spirulina group.

Researchers from Kookmin University and Dongseo University, both in Korea, conducted the study. It was published in the August 2016 issue of Nutrition Research and Practice.

Spirulina is a blue-green algae that grows in freshwater. Previous studies suggest that it may help with detoxification of heavy metals, combatting candida yeast infections, helping lower blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and helping with weight loss.

As algae isn’t a common part of the western diet, your best bet for obtaining all of these benefits is to find a high quality supplement. Make sure your supplement is from a certified source to avoid impurities.

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