The microalgae chlorella is about as small as a red blood cell, but it is bright green. This is due to its unusually high chlorophyll content. It is estimated to have come into existence 2.5 billion years ago. This makes it one of the oldest living things on earth. However, it was only discovered in the 19th century by the Dutch microbiologist MW Beijerinck. This unicellular, spherical aquatic plant takes its name from the Greek words “chloros” meaning “green,” and “ella” meaning “small.” In Asia, the chlorella alga is a traditional food supplement because of its impressive nutrient content and its nutritional-physiological properties. Because it is so incredibly interesting and always comes up with surprising ingredients and characteristics, it is regarded as one of the most frequently examined plants. At BERTRAND, we also focus on this special microalgae for several reasons.
Where does BERTRAND Bio-Chlorella come from?
Chlorella is found worldwide because it is uncomplicated and is at home in any habitat. Chlorella is also a freshwater alga which makes it regionally independent. Chlorella was initially produced in Asia, especially in Japan. The island of Formosa, today known as Taiwan, soon became the world’s leading producer. There are now algae farms all over Europe. Chlorella is also grown in Germany, and the largest algae farm in Europe is here. For both ecological convictions and for reasons of quality, we do not source our organic chlorella from Asia but exclusively from the countries of the European Union.
How is chlorella algae powder made?
Microalgae, freshwater algae, green algae: these names appear again and again in connection with Chlorella. All these names are applicable. These small creatures can attain a diameter of 4 to 10 µm. This makes the tiny organism a “microalgae”. Their habitat is fresh water, regardless of whether it is standing or flowing. Hence the name “freshwater algae.” When you see many of them together in a large mass, you can see their bright green color; this is why they are called “green algae.” A special feature of chlorella is that it has a cell nucleus, which botanically makes it a plant. Chlorella is a food that is not edible as pure food; in its natural state, it is difficult to digest and therefore is unsuitable for raw consumption. Therefore, it is offered as a dietary supplement as a loose powder in the form of capsules or tablets. We use chlorella in powder form in our liquid meals. This is how we do it:
WE NEED A COUPLE OF STARTERS
The algae for BERTRAND products are obtained in a tube system. First, the algae are grown in the laboratory in small quantities, from around 100 milliliters to 1 liter. This amount of algae, referred to as “preculture,” is then placed in a food-safe film tube in the “greenhouse.” There they can grow until they are large enough to be distributed through several tubes. After a while, this tube structure – known as the “horizontal system” or “V-module” – becomes filled with green water, and several hundred liters can eventually be extracted. This is the “starter culture”.
WE TURN PASTE INTO POWDER
Once the preculture has been introduced into the large basin, the algae will continue to grow quickly. As soon as the required OD (optical density) level has been reached, they must be continuously harvested from then on. This is the case after about two months. This part is the most difficult, and of course, the most important part of algae cultivation. A sort of semi-solid algae paste is harvested. This is rinsed with pure water. Finally a large part of the water is removed from the mass by filtering and centrifuging.
WE WANT THE FLOUR
DRYING AND GRINDING
The algae mass, which is now still moist, is then gently dried. For this purpose, generally, the spraying method is chosen, as this method ensures that all valuable ingredients of the plant are completely preserved. During spray drying, the chlorella droplets are sprayed into a chamber with a stream of hot gas whereby the remaining water evaporates immediately. The temperature is constantly checked. Alternatively, freeze-drying or cold shielding gas dehydration can be used. By being subsequently ground into a fine powder, the small algae’s outer cell layers are broken up to make the biological substances that are used by the human body more accessible.
Chlorella algae now have the reputation of “superfoods” because they are rich in synergistically acting ingredients. This means that the overall effect of the ingredients in the body is stronger than that of each of the individual components because they supplement and reinforce each other. This diverse and unique nutrient combination is worth taking a closer look at.
The plant pigment chlorophyll is formed by photosynthesis. Its chemical structure is similar to hemoglobin, the red pigment in human blood. This is why chlorophyll is also known as a plant’s “green blood.” Chlorella has an immensely high amount of chlorophyll at 2.4 to 5.0 grams per 100 grams of dry weight. The plant pigment is said to improve the utilization of iron and oxygen supply in the human blood like hemoglobin. Chlorophyll is also said to have antioxidant, antibacterial, immune-strengthening and cell-protecting properties. Together with dietary fiber, chlorophyll provides toxin-binding and detoxification abilities used in dentistry for amalgam drainage. Orthomolecular medicine and phytotherapy also use these drainage properties.
The small algae are comprised of an astounding 60 percent protein. This exceeds, for example, the amount in dried milk, chicken, or fish. Represented here are all eight essential amino acids that the body cannot produce by itself and must be obtained through food. Chlorella algae are therefore a very good source of protein for athletes, vegetarians, and vegans.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins A, C, E, D, and K and the vitamins of the B complex are present in the microalgae. It is said that algae are one of the few plants that even contain vitamin B12 in bioavailable form. This makes it extremely appealing for vegans. Minerals and trace elements include iron, potassium, calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese, sodium, selenium, and zinc. Many of these minerals have an alkaline effect, so algae can also help regulate one’s acid-base balance.
The fiber content of green algae is also quite high. This plays an important role in interaction with chlorophyll because of the toxin-releasing effect. Above all, fiber is good for intestinal health. According to the DGE (German Society for Nutrition), fiber intake is often too meager in today’s diet. Chlorella can contribute to increasing one’s fiber intake.
Secondary Plant Substances
Freshwater algae also possess an interesting mix of secondary plant substances, such as CGF (Controlled Growth Factor), Protectonia, De-Noxilipidnin, Sporopollenin, Glutathione, and Glycoprotein. Secondary plant substances perform numerous tasks in the human body.
There are also around thirty different fatty acids (saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) here. Fatty acids are required for many metabolic processes.
The role of iodine in chlorella
Chlorella algae do not cause any problems with regard to iodine content, which is often generally associated with “algae.” As freshwater algae, Chlorella has only a very low iodine content, as opposed to sea algae.
A slight green coloration of the stool only occurs when larger amounts of Chlorella are taken (e.g., as a dietary supplement in capsules) and is not to be expected with the small amount in our products. This phenomenon is also completely harmless and is due to the high chlorophyll content.
- Picture of the bioreactor at the top of the page: AJCespedes via Shutterstock
- Map of Europe: teka12 via Shutterstock
- Post image, Green powder on white background: Nataly Studio via Shutterstock