Chlorella vs. Spirulina: What’s the Difference?

Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
Chlorella vs. Spirulina
Because both chlorella and spirulina are types of algae, they share a lot of nutritional properties.

Chlorella and spirulina are blue-green algae that are exploding in popularity in the supplement world.

  • These blue-green algae are a great source of plant-based dietary protein, plenty of B-vitamins, essential fatty acids, and iron.
  • They are a powerhouse supplier of chlorophyll, a natural phytochemical that gives plants their green pigment.
  • They help lower risk factors of heart disease, improve blood sugar management, support detoxification, get clear skin, and fight free radicals.

What is chlorella and spirulina?

Chlorella and spirulina are microscopic blue-green alga that grows in fresh and salt water, respectively.

Both are one of the most nutritional superfoods on the planet, which are high in protein, B-vitamins, and chlorophyll.

These blue-green algae can contain up to 60 to 70 percent vegetable protein and provide all the essential amino acids in a form that is incredibly easy for the body to digest.

They help decrease the spread of certain tumors, lower cholesterol levels, and eliminate certain forms of toxicity including dioxin.

What are the nutritional facts of chlorella and spirulina?

Table 1. Nutritional contents in an ounce (28-gram) serving of chlorella and spirulina
Nutrient Chlorella Spirulina
Calories 115 81
Protein 16 grams 16 grams
Carbs 7 grams 7 grams
Fats 3 grams 2 grams
Vitamin A 287 percent of the daily value (DV) 3 percent of the DV
Riboflavin (B2) 71 percent of the DV 60 percent of the DV
Thiamine (B1) 32 percent of the DV 44 percent of the DV
Folate 7 percent of the DV 7 percent of the DV
Magnesium 22 percent of the DV 14 percent of the DV
Iron 202 percent of the DV 44 percent of the DV
Phosphorus 25 percent of the DV 3 percent of the DV
Zinc 133 percent of the DV 4 percent of the DV
Copper 0 percent of the DV 85 percent of the DV


According to the USDA, there is no difference between a “portion” and a “serving.” See Answer

4 similarities between chlorella and spirulina

Because both chlorella and spirulina are types of algae, they share a lot of nutritional properties.

  1. Both are high in protein (with spirulina being the highest source), and both are two of the highest sources of pure chlorophyll.
  2. Chlorella and spirulina contain about the same amount of:
    • Carbohydrates (7 grams per ounce)
    • Protein (16 grams per ounce)
    • Folate (7 percent of the DV)
  3. Chlorella and spirulina are high in:
    • Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
    • Thiamine (vitamin B1)
    • Iron
  4. Both are rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids.

Differences between chlorella and spirulina

Table 2. Differences between chlorella and spirulina
Differences Chlorella Spirulina
Single-celled organism A single-cell alga A single-cell alga
Growth Grows much faster and can quadruple its size in just 20 hours Grows a bit slower than chlorella
Type of water A freshwater green alga A saltwater blue-green alga
Benefits Boost healthy cell growth, regenerate tissues in the body and help repair severe immune deficiencies Helps heart health, digestive health, and longevity and boosts brain health
Copper content No copper content. However, chlorella is higher in vitamin A, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc Contains significantly more copper (85 percent of the DV per ounce)
Omega fatty acid content Contains more omega-3 fatty acids Contains more omega-6 fatty acids

6 health benefits of chlorella and spirulina

The mutual benefits of chlorella and spirulina are:

  1. Helps detox
    • Chlorella and spirulina act as natural detoxification agents (by working on liver cell repair). They help remove heavy metals from the body and cleanse and optimize the oxygenation of the blood.
  2. Treat certain diseases 
  3. A high-quality source of protein
    • Both these algae contain all essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
    • Protein is an incredibly important macronutrient for several reasons, including its ability to help:
      • Build and maintain muscles
      • The immune system
      • Supporting the development and repair of cells of the body
  4. Rich in antioxidants
    • The blue-green color of chlorella and spirulina is indicative of their antioxidant-rich profiles.
    • Antioxidants help fight free radicals to protect against oxidative damage in the body. 
    • Chlorella is rich in chlorophyll and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, lycopene, lutein, and beta-carotene.
    • Spirulina is rich in phycocyanin, an antioxidant that provides its potent blue-green color and has anti-inflammatory, liver-protecting, and immune-enhancing properties.
  5. May improve the heart
    • Several studies report that chlorella and spirulina have the potential to improve heart health by positively affecting blood lipid composition and blood pressure levels.
  6. May help regulate blood sugar levels
    • Numerous studies report that both chlorella and spirulina may help manage blood sugar levels by improving insulin sensitivity, a measure of cell response to the hormone insulin.

Which one to choose, chlorella and spirulina?

Both forms of algae contain high amounts of nutrients, but chlorella is higher in omega-3 fatty acidsvitamin A, riboflavin, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Though both are great choices, chlorella has a slight nutritional advantage over spirulina because of the high levels of polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants, and other vitamins present in it.

Though they are safe for most people, it is always recommended to consult a healthcare professional before taking these supplements, especially in high doses.

This is particularly important for people:


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Medically Reviewed on 8/17/2022
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