Edible seaweed provides an alternative protein source

October 15, 2012

Teagasc researchers are looking to seaweed for proteins with health benefits for use as functional foods. Historically, edible seaweeds were consumed by coastal communities across the world and today seaweed is a habitual diet in many countries, particularly in Asia. Indeed, whole seaweeds have been successfully added to foods in recent times, ranging from sausages and cheese to pizza bases and frozen-meat products.

Source of protein

Researchers have previously shown that -rich red seaweeds such as Palmaria palmata (common name Dulse) and Porphyra (common name Sleabhac or Laver) species may potentially be used in the development of low-cost, highly nutritive diets that may compete with current protein crop sources such as soya bean. For example, the of Dulse varies from between 9-25% depending on the season of collection and harvesting. The highest percentage protein per gram of dried whole seaweed is normally found in P. palmata collected during the winter season (October – January). Valuable such as leucine, valine and methionine are well represented in Dulse. In Porphyra species, the amino acid profile is similar to those reported for leguminous plants such as peas or beans.

Health benefits of seaweed

Today, cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for more than 4.3 million deaths each year and is a main cause of CVD. In addition to its use as a protein source, the researchers have found that some of these seaweed proteins may have health benefits beyond those of basic – for use in .

Bioactive peptides are food-derived peptides that exert a physiological, 'hormone-like', beneficial health effect. Proteins and peptides from such as dairy, eggs, meat and fish are well documented as agents capable of reducing high blood pressure and are thought to be able to prevent CVD.

ACE-I inhibitors are commonly used as therapy in reducing high . Food-derived peptides may act as inhibitors of important enzymes such as Angiotensin I converting enzyme (ACE-I) and renin.

The researchers found a renin-inhibitory peptide in the seaweed Palmaria palmata. This is significant as renin-inhibitory peptides have not been identified from seaweed species before.

These renin inhibitory peptides are currently being assessed in bread products for human consumption. Research work at Teagasc will also assess the effects of the P. palmata protein hydrolysates on the technical and sensory attributes of bakery products, in particular bread. "Currently, analysis of a P. palmata bread product is underway and the effects of the hydrolysate on the moisture content, ash, crude fat, fibre and protein content have been assessed. The effects of the seaweed protein on the colour and texture profile of the bread are also being carried out," says researcher Dr Maria Hayes at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Ashtown.

"It is also possible that protein isolated from P. palmata as part of this study could be used for technical purposes in food manufacture, for example in the manufacture of reduced fat products," says Dr Hayes.

Explore further: Seaweed as a rich new source of heart-healthy food ingredients

Related Stories

Seaweed as a rich new source of heart-healthy food ingredients

July 20, 2011
In an article that may bring smiles to the faces of vegetarians who consume no dairy products and vegans, who consume no animal-based foods, scientists have identified seaweed as a rich new potential source of heart-healthy ...

Researchers urge awareness of dietary iodine intake in postpartum Korean-American women

July 12, 2011
Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have brought attention to the potential health impacts for Korean and Korean-American women and their infants from consuming brown seaweed soup. Seaweed is a known ...

Recommended for you

When traveling on public transport, you may want to cover your ears

November 22, 2017
The noise levels commuters are exposed to while using public transport or while biking, could induce hearing loss if experienced repeatedly and over long periods of time, according to a study published in the open access ...

Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses

November 22, 2017
Different types of alcohol elicit different emotional responses, but spirits are most frequently associated with feelings of aggression, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Air pollution linked to poorer quality sperm

November 22, 2017
Air pollution, particularly levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5), is associated with poorer quality sperm, suggests research published online in Occupational & Environmental Medicine.

Sunrise and sunset guide daily activities of city-dwellers

November 21, 2017
Despite artificial lightning and social conventions, the dynamics of daylight still influence the daily activities of people living in modern, urban environments, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

Older men need more protein to maintain muscles

November 21, 2017
The amount of protein recommended by international guidelines is not sufficient to maintain muscle size and strength in older men, according to a new study.

Exercising and eating well are greater contributors to health than standing at work

November 21, 2017
By now you've probably heard the edict from the health community: Sitting is the new smoking. Perhaps you've converted to a standing desk, or maybe you have a reminder on your phone to get up once an hour and walk around ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.