Cholesterol is a fatty substance which is an essential structural component of all animal cell membranes. But too much can be detrimental to a person’s health. There are two main types – LDL (bad) cholesterol and HDL (good) cholesterol. HDL stands for high-density lipoproteins and LDL stands for low-density lipoproteins.
LDL is labelled ‘bad’ cholesterol because high levels can cause a build up of cholesterol in your arteries.
Too much cholesterol can cause the arteries to narrow and lead to heart attack and stroke.
One of the main factors that can increase your chances of having heart problems or stroke if you have high cholesterol is an unhealthy diet – particular eating high levels of saturated fat.
Eating less saturated fat is one of the first steps you can take, but experts have also proven spirulina to be effective at helping lower cholesterol.
In a 2018 meta-analysis of research, Chinese scientists found spirulina supplements to have a “favourable effect” on improving LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels (a type of fat in the blood).
Spirulina was also found to help reduce blood glucose levels, which led the team to the conclusion it could be considered in the “prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease in humans.”
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that grows in freshwater ponds and lakes, explains Holland & Barrett.
It adds: “It’s packed with nutrients, including B vitamins, beta-carotene, copper and iron, as well as small amounts of magnesium, potassium and manganese.
“You can take spirulina in tablets, capsules or as a powder that can be added to shakes and smoothies for a nutritional boost. It’s also increasingly popular as an ingredient in snack or energy balls.”
There is no official recommended daily dosage for spirulina, but studies have found between 1-8g a day could be effective.
The high street health store adds: “Make sure you follow any instructions or recommendations on the product label before taking.
“Talk to your GP or a trained dietician or nutritionist if you’re concerned.
“You should not take spirulina if you are pregnant – there’s not enough evidence to prove it is safe, have an auto-immune disease – it may cause the condition to flare up, or are taking blood-thinning medication – it may slow blood clotting.
“If you are on any medication, check you your doctor that it is safe to take spirulina at the same time.”
According to one study, published in The Lancet in 1989, people with high cholesterol who took 8g of charcoal three times a day for four weeks experience a 41 per cent reduction in LDL cholesterol.