Green seaweeds have been gaining popularity in recent years due to their potential health benefits and sustainable nature. A new study explores the various nutrients and active substances found in green seaweeds that can be unlocked for a wide range of applications. From food and agriculture to pharmaceuticals and biomaterials, the possibilities to harness the power of these aquatic plants are endless. This article delves into the key findings of the study and highlights the potential of green seaweeds to revolutionize various industries.
Green seaweed is a macroalgae that is widely found in the ocean, and is a rich source of nutrients and bioactive compounds. It exhibits numerous important biological properties, such as immunoregulation, antioxidant activity, and anti-inflammatory response. In a recent Food Production, Processing and Nutrition study, researchers reviewed existing literature to highlight the primary nutrients and active substances associated with different green seaweeds and their biological activities and applications.
Green seaweed is classified under the Chlorophyta group of macroalgae, and some common genera of green seaweed species are Ulva, Codium, Caulerpa, Enteromorpha, and Chaetomorpha. The composition of green seaweeds differs in accordance with species variation, season, environment, and growth stage. It is a rich source of essential amino acids, several proteins, functional peptides, and lipids. Notably, the Ulva genus may contain up to 44% of proteins, and during the summer, edible U. intestinalis contains around 19% of protein. Some key peptide components obtained from green seaweed include lectins and Kahalalide F. Lipids play a crucial role in maintaining human health by acting as precursors of several signaling molecules that regulate various cellular functions. Typically, the lipid content in seaweeds is lower than in proteins and carbohydrates. Nevertheless, seaweeds are rich in omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).
Green seaweeds are also a rich source of water- and fat-soluble vitamins, and contain important minerals such as sodium, potassium, and calcium. Both U. intestinalis and U. pertusa exhibit a promising sodium-to-potassium ratio, improving body fluid balance. Ulva and Enteromorpha also contain magnesium, which is essential for catalytic functions. Other important elements, such as manganese, cobalt, iodine, iron, copper, selenium, and zinc, have also been isolated from green seaweeds. A varied level of polysaccharides has been obtained from different green seaweed species. Ulva spp. exhibits a high polysaccharides content consisting of rhamnose, sulfate, xylose, and glucuronic acid.
Green seaweed possesses numerous potential applications in food, medicine, and cosmetics. Seaweeds are often ground to a fine powder and added to bakery or starchy foods to improve their nutritional content, while also enhancing the flavor and texture of food products. Foods with high dietary fiber content alleviate constipation, enhance the sense of satiety, and reduce cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Protein-derived peptides obtained from green seaweed could be used as chemosynthetic drug candidates in the pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries. Kahalalide F, a cyclic peptide extracted from Bryopsis sp., possesses anti-tumor activities. Lectin, a carbohydrate-binding protein found in many species of green seaweed, is associated with anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and cytotoxic properties. Seaweeds have been used in cosmetics as ingredients, additives, and active agents, as they improve the texture-related characteristics of cosmetic products.
In conclusion, this study has shed light on the untapped potential of green seaweeds as a nutritious and medicinal food source. With an array of vital nutrients and active substances, these underutilized marine plants have the potential to greatly benefit both human health and environmental sustainability. As ongoing research continues to explore the many benefits of green seaweeds, it is our hope that this valuable resource will receive the attention and investment it deserves, leading to a brighter, healthier future for us all.