FOODS     TOOLS     ABOUT        

Moringa vs Spirulina – Superfood Showdown

Moringa or Spirulina

Both moringa and spirulina are supercharged with nutrients, which has made these two superfood powders popular among health-conscious people. Both of them have also been touted as natural weight loss aids, and they may offer a number of other interesting health benefits as well.

Below, we provide a head-to-head comparison of moringa vs spirulina by looking at how they fare against each other in terms of nutrient content, weight loss effects, other health benefits, and side effects. At the end of the article, you will also find some tips on how to incorporate these two superfoods into your diet.

Nutrient Content

Supercharged with a wide range of nutrients, moringa has been described as a superfood. Moringa is packed with iron, calcium and magnesium, vitamin C and B vitamins. Because of its high nutritional value, moringa has been used to combat malnutrition in India and some African countries.

Like moringa, spirulina contains a wide array of beneficial nutrients. It is a good source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and niacin, plus it contains plenty of essential amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins. What's more, spirulina contains a vitamin B12 analogue – unfortunately, however, your body cannot use it the same way it uses real vitamin B12 because this pseudovitamin is biologically inactive in humans.

Weight Loss Effects

Both moringa and spirulina have been touted as natural weight loss aids, but does either one of these superfood powders work, and if so, which one is better for weight loss, moringa or spirulina?

To date (July 2018), there have been no large clinical trials investigating the efficacy of moringa as a weight loss aid in humans; however, moringa extracts have been shown to promote weight loss and fight insulin resistance in some animals. Because of the promising results from animal studies, many hopeful dieters are now using pure moringa tea as a weight loss aid.

An important difference between moringa and spirulina is that unlike moringa, spirulina has actually been shown to promote weight loss in humans. In one study, obese study participants were given either 2.8 grams of spirulina, or a placebo supplement, three times a day over a period of four weeks. At the end of the trial, the researchers observed a small but statistically significant reduction of body weight in those who had received the spirulina supplements, compared with those in the placebo group. In another study, spirulina was found to improve fat oxidation during exercise in moderately trained men. (1)

So, to sum up, the studies evaluating the weight loss benefits of spirulina are more relevant than the studies investigating the effects of moringa on weight loss because the spirulina studies have been conducted on humans, not animals. That, however, does not mean that moringa is worse than spirulina at promoting weight loss. What it does mean is that more research is needed – especially clinical trials investigating the weight loss benefits of moringa – before any conclusions can be drawn about the weight loss benefits of spirulina versus moringa.

Other Health Benefits

Potential weight loss benefits aside, moringa and spirulina also have many other health benefits. The potential health benefits of moringa powder include anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, improved blood glucose control, anti-inflammatory effects, and protection against cancer. These benefits have been largely attributed to the high nutrient content of moringa and to the biologically active breakdown products of glucosinolates found in moringa leaves.

So, moringa clearly has a lot going for it in terms of health benefits, but so does spirulina. The potential health benefits of spirulina powder include beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, improved blood glucose control, and protection against pre-cancerous oral lesions.

What's more, a couple of studies suggest that spirulina might be good against allergies and hay fever because it can act as a natural anti-histamine. There is also some anecdotal evidence suggesting that spirulina may be good for acne prone skin.

Side Effects and Safety Concerns

Moringa leaves have a long history of use as both a food and a medicine, and few side effects have been associated with the consumption of moringa leaves (2). However, if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or if you are breastfeeding, you might want to talk to your doctor before using moringa powder because of the lack of research investigating the safety of moringa in pregnant/nursing women and babies.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women might also want to avoid spirulina because of the lack of research investigating whether spirulina is safe during pregnancy. In addition, the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) states on their website that also people with auto-immune diseases – such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus, rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and pemphigus vulgaris – might want to avoid spirulina because this blue-green algae may have immune-boosting properties, which in turn may worsen the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. The NIH also points out that spirulina contains phenylalanine, an amino acid that may make phenylketonuria worse, so people with this metabolic disorder should also avoid spirulina.

What's more, spirulina may cause side effects or adverse reactions if taken together with certain medications, or it may affect the effectiveness of the medication. Therefore, if you are taking any medications or herbal supplements (especially immunodepressants or anticoagulant/antiplatelet drugs), it is important that you talk to your doctor before adding spirulina to your diet.

How to Add Moringa or Spirulina to Your Diet

Eager to start taking advantage of the nutritional and health benefits of moringa or spirulina? A great place to buy either one of these nutrient-dense superfood powders is Amazon. If you don't know which brand to pick, try Zen Principle's moringa powder or Nutrex Hawaii's Hawaiian spirulina (affiliate links) which have received great reviews from Amazon's customers.

Both moringa powder and dried spirulina are versatile ingredients that can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Great ways to eat spirulina include eating it mixed into hummus, salad dressings or pureed soups, but this blue-green algae also makes a wonderful nutrient-rich addition to smoothies, energy bar recipes and omelets.

There are also tons of tasty moringa powder recipes out there. Great ways to sneak some moringa into your diet include blending it into green smoothies, adding it to pureed soups and sauces, and using it to make moringa popsicles.