Chlorella was amongst the first algae to be cultivated for food supplement purposes. Industrial production of Chlorella began in Japan shortly after the Second World War (WW2).
A daily 5 gram dose of Chlorella was associated with significant reductions in a key markers of heart health and increases in carotenoids, according to findings of a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study published in the Nutrition Journal.
“The present study is the first evidence offered to support the hypothesis that the regular consumptions of Chlorella supplement (5 g/day) over 4 weeks significantly reduced serum triglyceride, total cholesterol, non-HDL-cholesterol, VLDL- cholesterol, [the ratio of HDL- cholesterol to triglycerides], and apo B in subjects with mild hypercholesterolemia using RCT study design.
“This study also demonstrated that daily consumption of Chlorella supplement resulted in significant increases inserum lutein/zeaxanthin and alpha-carotene concentrations,” report scientists from Ewha Womans University, Seoul National University of Science and Technology, and CHA University in South Korea.
The study involved 63 people with mildly elevated cholesterol levels and used a Chlorella product provided by the Daesang Corp. The Seoul-based company also co-funded the study.
The participants were randomly assigned to receive either the Chlorella or placebo for four weeks. Results showed that the chlorella group experienced significant reductions in total cholesterol (-1.9%) and triglycerides (-10.3%), while levels increased in the control group by 0.03% and 11.9%, respectively.
In addition, lutein/zeaxanthin levels increased by almost 90% in the Chlorella group, but decreased by 1.7% in the placebo group. Alpha-carotene also increased significantly (+164%), compared with an increase of only 15% in the placebo group.
Significant improvements were also observed for very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in the algal group (−11%), compared to a 12% increase in the placebo group. Apolipoprotein B levels also improved in the Chlorella group (decreased by 1.5%), compared to placebo (increased by 1.7%). ApoB is the main apolipoprotein of LDL cholesterol that is responsible for the transport of cholesterol to tissues.
“Chlorella provides a wide range of nutrients and phytochemicals that work synergistically to optimize lipid metabolism,” wrote the researchers. “It contains a relatively high percentage of omega-3 fatty acids, which are known not to inhibit chylomicron assembly in the intestine, but to inhibit VLDL assembly in the liver. Chlorella is a good source of dietary fiber that affects lymphatic cholesterol and triglyceride absorption by increasing gut viscosity, altering the composition of the bile acid pool, or producing fermentation products in the intestine.
“Chlorella is also a good source of carotenoids and it significantly increased serum concentration of lutein/zeaxanthin and α-carotene. The steps of carotenoid absorption are similar to those for dietary lipids: the release from the food matrix, solubilization in mixed micelles, packaging into chylomicrons, and secretion into the lymphatic system. Therefore, one can assume that the presence of increased concentrations of carotenoids released from Chlorella compete with dietary lipids for incorporation and transport in lipoproteins, therefore causing the decreased serum lipid levels.”
Source: Nutrition Journal
13:57, doi: 10.1186/1475-2891-13-57
“Impact of daily Chlorella consumption on serum lipid and carotenoid profiles in mildly hypercholesterolemic adults: a double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled study”
Authors: Na Ryu, Yeni Lim, Ji Park, Joohee Kim, Ji Kim, Sung Kwon, Oran Kwon