Is Spirulina Gluten Free? (Yes, Here’s Why)

Is Spirulina Gluten Free

If you follow the latest health trends, you may have noticed Spirulina taking center-stage. Spirulina is a microalga known for its blue-green color and is widely recognized as a super food. Spirulina is a great addition to smoothies, dressings, soups, and much more—but how does it fit into the gluten-free diet?

Spirulina is gluten-free, vegan, and packed with essential nutrients. Our favorite brands of Spirulina are Nutrex Hawaii Pure Hawaiin Spirulina Powder, Zazzee 100% Pure Organic Spirulina Powder, and Double Woods Supplement Blue Spirulina. If you are not a fan of spirulina, the best alternative to is chlorella. Chlorella is gluten-free and provides many of the same benefits.

Let’s dive into what spirulina is, how to eat it, and how it measures up to alternatives.

What is Spirulina?

Spirulina is considered to be one of the most nutrient-dense foods in existence. Spirulina is a blue-green microalga that grown in freshwater sources such as ponds and lakes.

Spirulina has been around for about 2.5 billion years, and was commonly consumed by the Aztecs as a protein source. It has about 65g of protein per 100 grams and makes a great choice when looking for a plant-based protein.

Flavor-wise, spirulina is known for having a slightly smoky flavor. It can be easily blended into liquids to add a slight flavor and lots of nutrients, with common recipe choices being soups, dressings, and smoothies.

Spirulina powder is packed with B-vitamins and phytonutrients, and contains every essential amino acid required by the human body.

What are the nutrients in Spirulina?

Per 1 tbsp. serving (7 grams) of dried spirulina:

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 4.02 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 1.67 grams
  • Fat: 0.54 grams
  • Sodium: 73 mg
  • Calcium: 8 milligrams (mg)
  • Iron: 2 mg
  • Magnesium: 14 mg
  • Phosphorous: 8 mg
  • Potassium: 95 mg
  • Vitamin C: 0.7 mg

Spirulina Benefits

Because of the rich density of nutrients present in spirulina, there are many benefits associated with incorporating it into your diet. Here are our top benefits:

1. High Plant-Based Protein Source

Spirulina is made up of 50% protein by weight, which allows it to provide more protein per ounce than either soy or meat. It provides 16 grams of protein per ounce and has all 9 essential amino acids needed by the body, helping your body to build needed proteins.

2. Easily Digestible

Spirulina cell walls do not contain cellulose, which makes it easy for the body to break down and digest it. Because spirulina is 85-95% digestible, the bioavailability of the nutrients in spirulina is much higher than many alternative plant protein sources.

3. High Antioxidant Content

Spirulina has one of the highest antioxidant contents of any food—in fact, it is four times higher than blueberries, which are well known as an antioxidant powerhouse.

Antioxidants help to protect the body against free radicals, which damage cells and increase the likelihood of developing disease. Spirulina is able to help fight this damage and even reverse its effects. Spirulina contains beta-carotene, which converts Vitamin A within the body and helps to improve eye and skin health.

4. Contains Detoxifying Agents

Spirulina contains detoxifying agents that help to eliminate environmental toxins from our surroundings and toxins from foods we eat. This is often done through the chlorophyll that is contained in spirulina, which helps to rid the body of metals as well as other toxins.

5. Contains Essential Fatty Acids

Spirulina contains many essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. In addition to this, spirulina contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is difficult to find in food sources and is known for its anti-inflammatory effects.

GLA can be especially important for people with allergies or arthritis, and spirulina can help reduce these symptoms.

6. High Iron Content

One ounce of spirulina provides over 40 percent of your daily iron, which is the nutrient that ensures your red blood cells are circulating properly throughout the body. Iron is important for blood health, and spirulina is a great, iron-dense source.

7. High Nutrient Content

In addition to iron, fatty acids, and antioxidants, spirulina contains many important vitamins and minerals such as B-complex vitamins, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. These vitamins help the body’s immune system function properly and ensure that your body is able to function at a high level.

How to Consume It

Spirulina is most commonly available as either powder or tablets. It can also be incorporated into ready-made mixes, such as protein powders or “superfood” blends.

Many people stir a small amount of spirulina into a glass of water and drink it, but often it is preferable to mix it into smoothies or dressings. Sometimes, people add it to chocolates or baked goods for an energy boosting kick.

Because of the high pigmentation, spirulina will change the color of the food it is added to, so it is important to beware of this. If you are eating a food with a high amount of spirulina, you may find your teeth temporarily take on a blue-ish green tint.

In terms of flavor, some people find spirulina to have a slightly “sea vegetable” type flavor. This may be an incentive or a draw-back depending on your taste buds, but the flavor is often overpowered by other foods in recipes none-the-less.

When making smoothies, we recommend combining spirulina with sweet fruits (think bananas, mangos, ripe pineapple) to help mask the earthy flavor. Because of the high protein content, spirulina also makes a great addition to a post-workout drink or shake.

Simple Recipes with Spirulina

If you are looking for simple ways to incorporate spirulina into your daily diet, there are many places to hide in this nutrient-dense supplement. Here are a few of our favorites:

Base Spirulina Wellness Shot Recipe

If your main goal is to quickly consume spirulina without much fuss about the recipe, a lemon shot is a great bet. This small shot-like drink can be made by combining:

1tbsp of spirulina, ½ cup of water, 1 lemon juiced, 1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper.

Base Smoothie Recipe

As smoothie-lovers know, the combinations of fruits and vegetables are endless. Try playing around with different measurements and consistencies to find one that works for you.

1tsp of spirulina, ½ cup of sweet fruit (ex: 1 banana), ½ cup of vegetables (ex: spinach), ½ cup of milk or yogurt of choice, water to desired consistency.

Base Salad Dressing Recipe

Salad jars are best stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can add flavorings of your choices, such as spices, herbs, lemon juice, and sweeteners. A basic vinaigrette can be made with the following:

1tbsp of spirulina, ¾ cup olive oil, ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, ½ tbsp honey, salt and pepper to taste.

Base Dip Recipe

If you’d like to incorporate spirulina into a dip, this can easily be done (although beware of the color change). An easy dip to incorporate spirulina into is guacamole. This can be made by combining:

1tbsp of spirulina, 2 mashed avocados, ¼ cup of chopped white onion, ¼ cup of chopped cilantro, juice of 1 lime, ¼ cup chopped tomato, 1 diced jalapeño if desired, paprika, salt, and pepper to taste.

Spirulina can also be stirred into yogurts, baked into muffins, and even used in savory marinades. The possibilities are endless—get creative!

Spirulina Buying Tips

Because spirulina is grown naturally on the surface of freshwater environments, the location it is grown will affect the taste and quality. It is important to research the brand and where it sources its spirulina from.

Spirulina sourced from China and India and exported to the US tends to have a lower nutritional profile than some of its counterparts and be more prone to bacterial contamination.

Spirulina grows best in pristine water-sources with lots of sunlight, so Hawaii is one of the best places to source spirulina from. If your spirulina source is not listed on the packaging, customer service can often answer questions pertaining to this. Our favorite brands are:

Nutrex Hawaii Pure Hawaiian Spirulina Powder

Per 1 tsp serving (3 grams) of dried spirulina:

  • Calories: 10
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Carbohydrates: <1 gram
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 60 mg
  • Calcium: 13 milligrams
  • Iron: 3 mg
  • Magnesium: 24 mg
  • Phosphorous: 26 mg
  • Potassium: 40 mg
  • Vitamin B12: 8 mcg


  • Dried spirulina (Anthrospira platensis)

Zazzee 100% Pure Organic Spirulina Powder

Per 1 tsp serving (3.3 grams) of dried spirulina:

  • Calories: 15
  • Protein: 2 grams (4% DV)
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram (<1% DV)
  • Fat: 0 grams (0% DV)
  • Sodium: 60 mg (1% DV)
  • Calcium: 0% DV
  • Iron: 8% DV
  • Vitamin A: 220% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 190% DV


  • Dried organic, non-GMO spirulina

Double Woods Supplement Blue Spirulina

Per 1 serving (1 gram) of dried spirulina:

  • Phycocyanin: 350 mg


  • Blue spirulina extract (Anthrospira platensis)

Alternatives for Spirulina


Organic Chlorella Spirulina Tablets, 3000mg Per Serving, 720 Counts, 120 Servings (4 Months Supply), Filler Free and Cracked Cell Wall, Rich in Vegan Protein, Chlorophyll & Vitamins, Non-GMO The best alternative for spirulina is chlorella. Chlorella is also a freshwater microorganism, and it also chock-full of nutrients.

Chlorella contains high levels of chlorophyll, which is a great source of beta-carotene (chlorella contains 10 times as much beta carotene as carrots!).

Chlorella also contains many of the same nutrients as spirulina. It is high in B-vitamins, iron, magnesium, and potassium—some of which in even higher concentrations than spirulina. It is also high in proteins and healthy hats.

Chlorella is a green alga, and spirulina is a blue-green alga. Chlorella offers similar protein levels but offers more omega 3 fats. When it comes to flavor, chlorella tastes “grassy” while spirulina tastes more similar to seaweed.

Chlorella nutrition per 4g serving size:

  • Calories: 10
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Fat: 0
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams

Related Questions

Blue vs Green Spirulina?

Blue spirulina is simply the phycocyanin extracted from green spirulina. This is great for reducing inflammation and has many anti-cancer properties.

Green Spirulina has a much more complete nutritional profile, as discussed above. However, some people choose blue spirulina as it has a less intense smell and taste than green spirulina and still provides many benefits.

Can you take both spirulina and chlorella?

Yes, both chlorella and spirulina can be taken with no complications.

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Josie Burridge

Josie has always had a passion for food and for cooking. From a young age, she was always in the kitchen mixing up new recipes and serving way-too-elaborate meals. She graduated with a degree in biomedical engineering, emphasizing her studies on biology and biochemistry. She currently studies nutritional epidemiology, and loves combining her knowledge of science with her love of food to provide people with high-quality, up-to-date nutritional information and research.

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