What Is Phycocyanin?


Have you ever wondered why so many people are so enthusiastic about spirulina? Yes, people love the smooth texture of spirulina. Many also enjoy the taste. However, the real reason people are so eager to track down this tasty food source consisting of blue-green algae is its antioxidant and protein superpower. One specific protein in spirulina makes this a high-value food source with antioxidant and anticancer properties that some researchers are betting on to cure serious diseases. More on that in just a second! Trust us when we say you’re going to want to enjoy spirulina by the spoonful after you find out about the health benefits this unassuming biomass is hiding!

First, it’s helpful to know a little bit of the background on spirulina. Spirulina is one of our planet’s oldest known life forms. Did you know that NASA uses spirulina as a dietary supplement for astronauts on space missions? First used by the Aztecs to boost endurance, this natural wonder provides a protein level comparable to what you get from eggs. It mixes beautifully into yogurt, juice, and smoothies. One teaspoon gives you 4 grams of protein for just 20 calories in a satisfying, sugar-free form! Spirulina is also high in magnesium, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), copper, and iron. Spirulina also contains roughly 26 times the amount of calcium in milk! However, that’s not what we’re focusing on in this post. This little celebration of spirulina is about a critical source of protein and antioxidants nested within this blue-green alga that blesses saltwater and freshwater shores worldwide, called phycocyanin. Please take a look at what you need to know about its benefits!

What Is Phycocyanin?

Found abundantly in spirulina, phycocyanin is a pigment-rich protein. It makes up between 10% and 20& of the protein content of spirulina. Phycocyanin’s blue-green coloring is a natural dye in gum, jelly, candy, beverages, and cosmetic projects. However, this protein isn’t just pretty. It’s a fountain of youth! According to researchers, phycocyanin offers a bounty of therapeutic potential! In addition to fighting free radicals, phycocyanin also demonstrates anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties. This superfood is also a smart food. Research reveals that phycocyanin can offer neuroprotection by scavenging hydrogen peroxide radicals in the brain. That means everything from better cognition to tumor inhibition. Phycocyanin is currently being studied for potential use as an anticancer medication.

“Phycocyanin can promote animal blood cell regeneration, improve lymphocyte activity and lymphatic system to improve immune function, and comprehensively enhance the disease resistance of the body,” according to a 2017 study boasting of this protein’s potential for cancer prevention. Researchers used phycocyanin from spirulina to prevent DMH-induced colon cancer in rats. When DMH-induced rats were treated using phycocyanin, the number and size of tumors and lesions were reduced.

What Are the Other Health Benefits of Phycocyanin?

The news about phycocyanin and cancer prevention should be enough to get anyone interested in spirulina. In addition, people looking for a natural, vegan source of protein, calcium, and a litany of other vital nutrients need spirulina on their radars because few plant sources can offer this powerful nutritional value superfood. Here’s a rundown of some of the other health benefits of phycocyanin to have in mind as you tiptoe toward being converted into a spirulina fan:

  • Antioxidant Power: What exactly do antioxidants do for us? They help to fight off the free radicals that are lingering all around us. Free radicals attack our cells to cause premature aging and illness. Antioxidants provide insulation against these harmful free radicals. The benefits include better energy, mood, and a boosted immune system. Antioxidants also reduce the risks of heart attack, heart disease, stroke, and other cardiovascular illnesses. Finally, antioxidants can keep our skin looking much fresher and younger!
  • Anti-inflammatory Properties: Like all antioxidants, phycocyanin is rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Living with inflammation is no picnic. It can cause aches, pains, headaches, bloating, indigestion, depression, and anxiety. The Western diet leaves many of us prone to inflammation. In addition to making us feel miserable, inflammation can also increase our risks for illness and disease. Regular phycocyanin consumption may help decrease your body’s inflammatory response and help you enjoy pain-free, high-energy living.
  • Benefits for Cholesterol: Spirulina has been found to help lower total cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and triglycerides. One study looking at people with cholesterol found that just 1 gram could lower triglycerides by 16.3%, decrease LDL cholesterol by 10.1%, and improve several health markers.
  • Lower Blood Pressure: One review found that just 1 to 8 grams of spirulina daily may significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The benefits were especially promising for people suffering from dangerously high blood pressure levels.
  • Improved Cell Oxygenation: Phycocyanin can make us feel more energized by helping to form new red blood cells that transport oxygen through the body. Athletic people need adequate amounts of oxygen to the muscles for athletic performance, recovery, and injury prevention.
  • Possible Boost for Stem Cells: Phycocyanin is considered a powerhouse for recovery among athletes. Evidence suggests that spirulina facilitates stem cell generation within bone marrow due to its role in stimulating the production of red blood cells. This can help with recovery from injury, fatigue, anemia, and a wide variety of other “depletion” issues.
  • Allergy Relief: Here’s a surprising one! Research published in 2021 found that spirulina can help to improve allergic rhinitis. Participants saw big reductions in runny noses, nasal congestion, and itching.
  • May Help to Balance Blood Sugar: Animal studies reveal that spirulina helps to stabilize blood sugar. One published analysis looking at the effect of spirulina on type 2 diabetes found that small daily doses of spirulina could help to significantly reduce fasting blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

These benefits represent what we know about phycocyanin in the research journey. We are only just beginning to understand how this natural protein that has been celebrated for centuries helps restore health and vitality. Many people are shocked to learn that a readily available protein in an edible, easily consumable form can provide incredible health benefits.

Is It Worth Trying?

Absolutely! Any health-minded person looking to add an antioxidant-rich protein source to their diet needs to get serious about incorporating phycocyanin into their lifestyle. No need to climb high mountains to find natural, potent phycocyanin. It’s available directly in the spirulina, so many people already know, love, and consume daily. However, you must be smart about getting the correct type of spirulina to enjoy phycocyanin’s full and true benefits. Many companies sell powdered spirulina, a dulled-down version of fresh spirulina. Consumers are attracted to this option due to its low cost and convenience. However, it’s no match for fresh spirulina. Let’s talk about what you’re getting when you purchase powdered spirulina.

Powdered spirulina is heated to the point where very little moisture remains. This is done to prolong the product’s longevity and allow retailers to ship and store it without worrying about freshness. Unfortunately, that means you’re not getting freshness. Spirulina is “of the water.” Moisture is the source that life needs to live. Powdered spirulina is an ultimately “dead” food source. As a result, the phycocyanin protein within it is essentially neutralized. That means you’re getting a false sense of confidence whenever you consume powdered spirulina. All those excellent health benefits for fighting cancer, oxygenating blood cells, preventing inflammation, and increasing vitality are essentially reduced to zero because the high-heat process used to create powdered spirulina drains the natural moisture properties that keep phycocyanin alive.

What’s the best way to get fresh spirulina with all its phycocyanin properties intact? Kyanos Farms is devoted to giving you all the living benefits of phycocyanin in every spirulina product we sell. Our customers tell us that eating spirulina from Kyanos Farms is like eating spirulina fresh from the pond. We strive to help our customers stay connected to the natural essence of food sources by never compromising on the sourcing and processing the products we sell.

We are pioneers in producing fresh, living algae available on a commercial scale for customers all around the country. A leader in spirulina resale for nearly eight years, Kyanos Farms, operates a 10-acre farm in Vero Beach, Florida. Experience spirulina the way nature intended by getting your fresh spirulina from Kyanos Farms.

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Joe Embres

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Kyanos Farm has been delivering high quality Spirulina to local markets for over eight years. With our humble origins on the Vero Beach, FL coast, we have since expanded to a 10 acre farm. Since inception, it has been the goal of Kyanos Farm to create a frozen Spirulina product that can be distributed at a reasonable price to markets all over the country.

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