Nutritional Benefits of Seaweed Based Food

1575 words (6 pages) Essay in Nutrition

18/05/20 Nutrition Reference this

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Seaweed Food and Drinks



Seaweed is an algae that grows at the bottom of the sea. It is a product that can be found all around the world especially in rocky areas. (Healthline, 2019). Seaweed can also be found in some food and drinks along with in the marine. It can be found in many areas around the world including South East Asia, China, Korea and Japan. (Pomin, V. H. 2012). There are three different types of seaweed red algae, brown algae and green algae. (Jiménez-Escrig.A. 2000). Each country uses seaweed for a different reason. Japan use seaweed to make sushi which is a dried sheet of seaweed. Seaweed is included in 21% of meals in Japan, South East Asian countries use sea weed as a non-food product. (Seaweed Sustainability, 2015) Seaweed can also be used as to produce nutrient agar in laboratories or as additives in foods. Other affects caused by seaweed can be health effects.

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There are three different types of seaweed that can be found worldwide which include red algae (Rhodophyta), brown algae (Phaeophyta) and green algae (Chlorophyta). Seaweed is classed under Phylum Protista. Seaweed can be categorised by its cell organelles because of its cell wall composition, reproductive organs and the chemicals it produces during reproduction which are oil and starch. Each seaweed type differs I plant size, shape and formation. (Nabti, n.d.2017) Brown sea weed contains fibres such as alginates, fucans and laminarans. Red seaweed contains agar, carrageenan and ulvans. Green seaweed contains soluble ulvans and insoluble amounts of cellulose. Brownlee, I. 2012)

Seaweed can be used as food additives in food and drink products. Food additives are ingredients that are in a food product but would not be eating as a food product. (, 2019). As seaweed contains amino acids which can be found in some food products as there is glutamate found in seaweed. Seaweed are macroalgae which are used as food additives which contain minerals such as iron, zinc, magnesium, iodine, zinc and calcium. (Fleurence, J., 1999.) Seaweed contains antioxidants which include fucoxanthin and astaxanthin and polyphenols such as phlorotannin and chlorophyll substances such as phospholipids, flavonoids, bromophenols and polysaccharides. (Gupta, S.2011)

They also play a huge role in preventing chronic heart disease. As you can see in the table below Japanese have the highest levels of Glutamate found in their products due to time in which the seaweed is harvested or the stage in which the product is at in its development. One type of hydrocolloid is seaweed which is used in producing Alginate and Agar. (Methven, L., 2012) Seaweed can be used as an ingredient found in a nutrient agar which allows for bacteria to grow. Seaweed can be used in producing agar which is a nutrient medium used in microbiology when carrying microbial tests. Agar can be extracted from red seaweed and algae. ( Pegg, A.M., 2012.)

Figure 1:Table above shows the amount of Glutamine acid in different food type. (Methven, L. 2012)

Seaweed are commonly used as antifungal and antibacterial agents in curing illnesses as they fight of gram positive and gram-negative organisms. In a lot of countries people include seaweed in their food products during processing as they are rich in vitamins and antioxidants which prevent molecules from being damaged when they are broken down. (Gnanavel, V., Roopan, S.M. et al 2019).

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Seaweed is also used along side tyrosine with is used to improve humans’ thyroid function. The thyroid is a gland found in the throat that controls the growth and repair of damaged cells. Seaweed can be used as a food supplements in the diet when the thyroid is unable to produce the correct amounts of iodine. (Healthline, 2019). The best way to extract iodine form seaweed is by boiling the seaweed. The best type of seaweed to take is Kelp as it has the highest level of iodine with 59 times the RDI (recommended daily allowance). (This is Seaweed, 2019)

It has been researched that seaweed has had some health effects on humans in recent years. According to a Japanese journal it shows the effects of seaweed on breast cancer in Europe and the US. To do this they looked at the correlation between iodine and breast cancer. Seaweed is used as it is seen to be a product that contains a high amount of iodine. In Japan it is illegal to use any medication that will interfere with the cancer. (Funashi et al 2001). Seaweed food and drinks have also caused a huge number of health effects on humans such as Diarrhoeagenic E. coli infections and pancreatic cancer. This shows that seaweed should not be considered as a product for human consumption. Some seaweeds are also seen to be poisons. (Park, J., Kim, J.S. et al 2018)


From my research I have discovered that seaweed is not a food and drink it is more of an ingredient that is found in different food products. For example, seaweed can be used in producing agar (Armisen, R. et al 1987) and a food additive found in some food products (Del Pino,2016).Seaweed has proven that it has had a lot of different health benefits in humans such as a supplement of iron into the human diet if the thyroid is not producing enough iodine in order for the thyroid to function properly (Healthline, 2019), prevents chronic heart disease in humans as it contains glutamate (Methven, L., 2012). There are many three different types of seaweed which all have a different function in food production. (Dominguez, H. (2013) )


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