Juiced as much kale as you think you can muster? People are now looking to algae supplements as the answer for health and longevity. Not to be confused with what collects in your fish tank, blue-green algae or Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA) is an edible nutritious freshwater microalgae.
AFA contains a wide spectrum of nutritional components including phenethylamine, chlorophyll, carotenoids, B vitamins, omega fatty acids, complete proteins and a host of other macro and trace minerals.
Phenylethylamine positively influences the areas of the brain that involve mental focus, alertness and our ability to concentrate and, along with phycocyanin, is considered a natural antidepressant and also causes a rise in dopamine levels in the brain.
Almost 50 per cent of the lipid content of dried blue-green algae is composed of omega-3 fatty acids, which help with overall health and brain function. Additional nutrients such as B vitamins and choline support healthy brain chemistry and neurological activities. When taken as a dietary supplement, blue-green algae is known to help alleviate depression, improve memory, reduce inflammation and is well-known for its effects at increasing mental focus and concentration.
Outside of these health benefits, blue-green algae is also being cultivated for its colour as a natural food dye. As many consumers move away from artificial colours, cultures such as spirulina are being harvested in America for their blue-green colour.
The Food Marketing Institute in the US expects the volume of spirulina that is used for food and beverages to quintuple from 2012 to 2020, and for the natural food colouring industry to grow at an average rate of 6.8 per cent in that time frame.
Latte With A Twist
Spirulina is also changing the way we have our coffee, joining an eclectic bunch of new ingredients that are bringing forth a kaleidoscope of coffees for 2017. No longer is the answer to, “How do you take your coffee?” as simple as just milk or sugar. Instead, the new year will see us drinking coffee with a range of flavours including algae, matcha, golden turmeric, beetroot, charcoal and even mushroom.
These alternative lattes provide drinkers their ritual drink with more health benefits than the usual expresso. Matcha Mylkbar in Melbourne has been getting huge social media interest globally in its blue vegan algae latte (pictured right) and made of algae, lemon, ginger agave and coconut milk.
Matcha co-founder Sarah Holloway says the trend is being driven by consumers who want a healthier option for their regular coffee intake. “Superfoods are no longer solely the realm of health nuts.”