What's the difference between Spirulina and Chlorella

If you are into making your own smoothies, you have probably heard of both the superfoods  spirulina and chlorella. However, you may not know what the differences are between these similar looking green algae, nor what they actually do to improve your health. Read on to find out...


Firstly let's look at the similarities. Both chlorella and spirulina are freshwater algae, rich in chlorophyll (hence the green colours). They are also packed with nutrients and have been known to offer numerous health benefits.

In usable form the products appear similar, both come as a dried powder, which is why they are ideal supplements to add to smoothies. Whilst they do contain some similar vitamins and minerals, their properties are different.

Raw Chlorella powder

Raw Chlorella powder

Raw Spirulina powder

Raw Spirulina powder

Barannes Juices and Smoothies containing Chlorella and Spirulina

Ready Set Go - containing spirulina powder

Ready Set Go - containing spirulina powder

Chlorella Cleanser -  contains juiced apple, carrot and lemon blended with cinnamon and chlorella. This is a good juice for detox purposes.

Ready Set  Go - apple juice, blended with pineapple, avocado and spirulina. This is a really refreshing and filling smoothie. Perfect as a meal replacement at lunchtime.

At the time of writing, Ready Set Go is on the Specials Board at our Colomberie shop, but subject to availability of ingredients both can be obtained from both our shops all year round. You can also choose to add a spoonful of either chlorella or spirulina to any of your favourite juices or smoothies from our menu.

Key Differences

Chlorella and spirulina are both unicellular freshwater algae, which thanks to their incredible density of nutrients can offer a wide range of health benefits when incorporated to your daily diet. To help you decide which of the two  is right for you, we have identified the following key differences:

  • Chlorella is a darker green algae, which means that it typically boasts around ten times more chlorophyll than spirulina and makes it more suitable for detox purposes
  • Chlorella contains more iron than spirulina
  • Chlorella contains a special growth factor which can help repair damage to nerve tissue and is ideal for those with degenerative brain and nerve disorders
  • Chlorella features a true nucleus, unlike spirulina which is a simple single cell structure
  • Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is thousands of year older than chlorella
  • Spirulina contains more protein than chlorella. On average spirulina contains 12 times more protein than beef.
  • Spirulina is a better source of GLA (gamma-linoleic acid), one of the ‘good’ fats that is essential for healthy brain and heart function
  • Spirulina contains higher concentrations of phycocyanin, a phytochemical that can help prevent cancer and gives spirulina its special blue tint


Spirulina is a simple, one-celled, spiral-shaped micro-algae that grows naturally in warm, fresh water lakes, natural springs, and saltwater. Spirulina is one of the world’s healthiest and oldest foods - the Aztecs used it as a food source in the 16th century. 

Spirulina is considered one of the most nutritionally complete foods on the planet. It’s one of the richest sources of beta-carotene, and has 10 times the beat-carotene of carrots per serving. A complete protein, spirulina ranges from 55-77 percent protein, and contains all essential amino acids. Spiruina also offers an abundance of fatty acids including one of the rarest forms, gamma linoleum acid.

Spirulina is also rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as the minerals potassium, calcium, chromium, copper, iron and magnesium. And if you’re looking for another reason to supplement your diet with spirulina, this superfood is rich in phytonutrients including chlorophyll, polysaccharides, sulfolipids, and glycolipids.

Thanks to these nutrients, Spirulina has been shown to help your body fight infection and allergic reactions. It may also protect against cancer and lower bad cholesterol, all while raising good cholesterol and aiding in weight loss.


Chlorella emerged over 2 billion years ago, and was the first form of a plant with a well-defined nucleus. Unlike Spirulina, Chlorella is a spherical shaped, single-celled microorganism and it has a nucleus. Chlorella grows in fresh water and is extremely small, with each chlorella cell being a mere two to eight microns wide. But, much like Spirulina, this tiny superfood packs a big nutritional punch.

Chlorella may not be as ancient as spirulina, but it boasts just as many nutritional properties. In fact, this green algae contains the highest amount of chlorophyll of any known plant. Chlorella is rich in the carotenoids beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lutein. It’s also an abundant source of vitamins B, C, D, E, K, and the minerals phosphorous, calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron. Like spirulina, chlorella is rich in protein and contains more protein per ounce than a serving of steak. This superfood also offers a rich source of healthy fats including oleic acid.

Chlorella has been shown to support healthy hormonal function and good cardiovascular health, negate some of the side-effects of chemotherapy and radiation, lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol, and excel in removing harmful toxins from your body.

In addition to using chlorella and spirulina as a supplement in our juices and smoothies, it can also be bought in powdered form for use at home. We stock both from the Naturya range of of superfoods.

Spirulina Powder.png
Chlorella Powder.png