(NaturalNews) The algae-based superfood chlorella can help protect the body from toxic exposure to the heavy metal cadmium, studies have shown.
Cadmium is one of the most common and widespread toxic heavy metals, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists it as number seven out of the 275 most hazardous substances. Most non-smokers are exposed to cadmium through their food. The metal builds up in the body over time, causing damage to the bones, liver and kidneys. It has also been linked to lung damage, cancer, brain damage and autism.
But the simple addition of chlorella to the diet may go a long way in preventing cadmium toxicity in cases where exposure cannot be avoided, suggests a study conducted by researchers from Hanyang University in South Korea and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2008. The researchers divided 40 rats into four separate groups: a control group, a group exposed to cadmium and two groups exposed to cadmium plus chlorella (5 percent and 10 percent). The rats were given as much food and water as they wanted.
After eight weeks, all the cadmium-exposed rats were showing signs of liver damage. However, rats that were also given chlorella showed significantly more liver weight, body weight gain and lower concentrations of cadmium and of metallothioneins (MTs), indicating less cadmium absorption and less liver damage.
Rats given cadmium plus chlorella also showed higher levels of MT II than rats given cadmium alone, indicating that their livers were more effectively flushing toxins.
A followup study was conducted by researchers from Ewha Womans University in South Korea and published in the Journal of Medicinal Food in 2009. The researchers once more found that cadmium accumulated in the blood and tissues (kidney, liver and small intestine) of all rats given cadmium, but rats also given chlorella showed significantly lower accumulation. Likewise, the levels of cadmium in the urine and feces of chlorella-supplemented rats were significantly higher than the levels in rats given cadmium alone. This suggest that chlorella accelerates cadmium excretion.
"Therefore, when exposed to [cadmium], chlorella is an appropriate source which counteracts heavy metal poisoning, to decrease the damage of tissues by decreasing cadmium absorption," the researchers wrote.
A true superfood
Chlorella, derived from a single-celled algae, has long been eaten in numerous Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and Taiwan. Chlorella is powerful both medicinally and nutritionally. It is approximately 60 percent protein, providing the same quality of protein as eggs. It is also a good source of lipid-soluble vitamins, choline, essential minerals and fiber.
In addition to helping remove toxic metals from the body, chlorella has also been shown to promote growth in animals, boost immune function and cytokine production, decrease oxidative stress, prevent stress-induced ulcers and diet-induced abnormal levels of blood fats and even aid in recovery from fatigue.
"The cell wall of chlorella is generally considered the thing that just grabs on to almost any toxin in the body, whether it is heavy metals, pesticides, organic chemicals," said Dr. Hank Liers, chief formulator of products sold by Health Products Distributors, Inc., in a 2007 interview with Mike Adams, the Health Ranger. "I think there are more research papers on chlorella than any substance known."