What the food is Spirulina?!

I spend a bit, honestly a lot, of time everyday being amazed by food photography on Instagram.  I always want to reach into my screen and take a bite!  I have been wondering how people made food such intense and beautiful blues.  I noticed these photos are often tagged Spirulina or Blue Spirulina.  What the food is Spirulina?!

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Is Spirulina a natural product?

Yes, Spirulina is a generic term for blue-green algae that grow in some salt-water and also fresh-water lakes in Africa and South America.

Why is Spirulina used in food products?

Spirulina is used as a dietary supplement, due to its high levels of protein, vitamins and minerals.  It is also used as a way of adding some really beautiful, natural colours to foods.
Is Spirulina safe to eat?

Spirulina itself is safe to eat, but Spirulina harvested from the natural environment may be contaminated with toxins or heavy metals.  This is further complicated by its status as a dietary supplement, which means it isn’t regulated to the same degree as a food.

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Spirulina should not be eaten by people with Phenylkeptonuria as it is a source of phenylalanine.  If you have a thyroid condition, an autoimmune disorder, gout, kidney stones, or are pregnant or nursing, spirulina may not be appropriate for you. You should check with your healthcare provider before taking it.
Can Spirulina cause allergic reactions?

Potentially, especially in those who are allergic to seafood, seaweed and other sea vegetables.
Is Spirulina vegan?

Spirulina is a cyanobacteria, a blue-green algae, so it is made up of tiny single-celled bacteria.  These bacteria make their food through photosynthesis, just like plants do.  Spirulina is not really an animal or a plant, but seems to be generally viewed as acceptable for vegans to eat.

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