That’s one of the main reasons that SP2 founder Adam Papazian created his frozen-fresh spirulina cubes. Growing up in California’s farmlands and now raising his two children in the same place, he’s always been looking for the freshest produce, delivered in the simplest way.
“I'm always looking for a clean, sustainable sources of nutrition,” he explains. "My background is fresh fruits and vegetables, growing up in Monterey County." With SP2, he’s broadened his scope from more traditional agriculture in favor of a more sustainable approach to health and nutrition. The microalgae spirulina can be sustainably harvested, and when its nutrients are bioavailable, it provides antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids. In fact, researchers have even postulated that spirulina crops could aid developing nations who struggle with food supply.
“The more research I did, the more I was blown away by the nutritional properties of spirulina,” he says. Growing up surrounded by produce being harvested and distributed while still fresh, he wanted to find a way to bring spirulina to the US market in almost the same way. And making it so that it could be delivered to your door so all you had to do was drop a cube of the fresh spirulina into your morning smoothie? Even better.
Papazian had to look outside of the US to find the best source of spirulina, eventually settling on AlgaeMor, an Israel-based company farming the microalgae. The company had already been doing tests for a few years, and AlgaeMor’s process got rid of the biggest problem spirulina users faced: dried, spirulina doesn’t taste or smell great — and it loses much of its nutrient value in the processing.
But AlgaeMore process would freeze the spirulina when it was fresh, which meant there was no foul taste or smell — and the nutrients would be preserved. Many spirulina options available are spiked with other algae and even toxins, but the SP2 Spirulina is grown and harvested in a closed facility free from any outside environmental factors. The proprietary SP2 blend is grown exclusively in fresh water, involving food-grade minerals, even though spirulina is tough enough to be grown in even the worst water conditions. Once the spirulina is ready for harvest, AlgaeMore uses a special method to shock-freeze it, in order to produce a near tasteless product that retains a 95 percent absorption rate of vitamins, minerals and protein.
“Think about what happens to greens like algaes, kale, broccoli, when they get beat down into powdered form,” Papazian explains. “Think about what you’re losing in that process.”
The bio-availablity of fresh spirulina is second to none: 95 percent of the nutrients are absorbed, compared to the average food absorption rate of 35 to 40 percent. A serving has more antioxidants than berries, more iron than spinach, and a full complement of the B vitamins (including the hard-to-find B12) which vegans often are lacking. And while plant-based diets can be well-rounded, often vegans— especially vegan athletes — struggle to get a full range of essential amino acids in their diets, a problem solved by spirulina. A single serving of SP2 contains only 27 calories, but packs almost five grams of protein into a tiny package.
Papazian isn’t just the founder of SP2, he’s an avid consumer of his own product. “It’s a complete protein, with all the essential amino acids, and I find it helps me avoid the need for coffee late in the afternoon—I avoid that crash entirely by using spirulina,” he says.
He prefers slipping it into juice or even yogurt—it doesn’t need to be stuck in a fancy smoothie. “I keep it as simple as possible, and drop it in juice. It doesn’t need to be complicated: Because it has no taste, you can put it in whatever you want. I’ve even put it in chocolate milk!” he laughs.
But as a family man with a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old at home, a major victory comes from keeping his kids eating healthy in a sneaky way as well. “It’s not just for me—my kids are eating it, and when you can get picky kids to eat something that’s green and that nutritious, it’s a victory,” he adds. “They won’t do kale or broccoli, so it’s nice to be able to give them something that nutritious.”
An avid surfer himself, Papazian wanted to focus on the potential performance benefits in terms of recovery from endurance and strength training for professional athletes, including Tour de France cyclists, ultra-runners, and mountain runners.
“The results for some of the athletes who’ve been testing SP2 Life has been unbelievable,” he added. “Performances are up, the athletes are using less supplements for their B12 and amino acids, and they’re reporting that they feel better. Spirulina isn’t really a supplement, it’s simply an underwater vegetable.”
That’s why SP2 Life has one ingredient: Just pure, fresh deep-green spirulina.
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