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In this article, we continue to analyze what are the components and therapeutic properties of Seaweed.
We have seen in the previous article about the composition and properties that algae have in application in all areas, such as the constant concern of governments and states, in the field of the environment, the field of health and nutrition. .
Algae can be excellent and highly nutritious foods, which eliminate famine in the world, at the same time they can be a way of providing oxygen to the planet, thereby eliminating excess CO2 emissions, in addition to having therapeutic and medicinal properties important, which can help humans to prevent and treat some diseases, doing it naturally and without resorting to chemical methods (Melo, Pereira, Foguels & Mourao, 2014).
Likewise, we delve into the analysis of its constitutive components, raising its properties. Let’s continue with it.
In addition to easily assimilated proteins, low-calorie carbohydrates, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, algae are composed of (Barbosa, Coutinho, Costa and Reis, 2019; Agregán, Franco, Carballo, Tomasevic et al., 2018; Gómez- Ordóñez, Jiménez-Escrig and Rupérez, 2014):
- Seaweed is very rich in vitamins C, E, group B and in provitamin A.
- If you want to make the most of its vitamin intake, it is advisable to consume the seaweed raw or after having soaked it, in the case of dried.
- Of special interest is the richness in vitamin B12, especially for vegetarians or vegans.
- At a therapeutic level, we can say that:
- Most algae tend to have a higher percentage of vitamin E than wheat germ. Vitamin E is an agent against cellular aging and arteriosclerosis, since it reduces the oxidation of fatty acids in the body and thus prevents the formation of free radicals.
- Similarly, algae are one of the foods richest in vitamin A, necessary for sight, growth and development of the skeleton and tissues. In addition, vitamin A protects the skin and mucous membranes, increases resistance to infections and acts against free radicals.
- They are also rich in beta-carotene, whose properties are similar to those of vitamin A, although betacrotene is totally non-toxic and there is no risk of hypervitaminosis, something that does not occur with vitamin A of animal origin, which must be consumed under medical supervision for its toxicity.
Alginic acid and alginates
- The presence of alginic acid in algae is high, especially in fucals.
- This acid is found, above all, in the cell wall of brown algae as an insoluble calcium salt, associated predominantly with various cations of calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg) and sodium (Na), or in a free form .
- The amount of alginic acid contained in brown or brown algae varies from 10 to 25% in relation to the dry weight.
- This variability depends on the depth in which the algae grows and is also subject to seasonal variations.
- The soluble sodium, ammonium, and potassium rooms of alginic acid are called alginic.
- Alginic acid can absorb 10 to 20 times its own weight in water.
- Being a weak acid, it forms a wide variety of alginates with very diverse properties and uses.
- The main therapeutic applications of alginic acid are:
- The absorption of certain substances, among which heavy metals, cholesterol and glucose stand out.
- The protective effect against radioactive metals (such as strontium), which are easily eliminated from the body.
Fucinic acid and fucans
- Like alginic acid, fucinic acid is found in brown algae.
- It comes in the form of a calcium salt, together with the not completely free alginic acid. Between 5 and 20% of the total dry matter of many brown algae is fucoidin.
- The substance was isolated for the first time in 1915, from a hydrolyzed compound. Later, it was shown to contain calcium and sulfate.
- Fucans are a family of sulfated polysaccharides associated with the cell surface, which are involved in various biological properties, such as cell recognition, adhesion functions, and cell regulation and reception, among many others.
- From a medical and therapeutic point of view, they are very interested in their pharmacological properties, in terms of:
THE HEAVY METALS:
- They have great attraction for sulfur
- The enzymes in our body are rich in sulfur, which gives rise to various combinations with heavy metals that produce toxic effects.
- The most aggressive ones combine with cell membranes and interfere with the transport of chemicals.
- The high content of sulfuric groups that fucan molecules present ensures the integrity of proteins and cell membranes, since they block their union with said heavy metals.
LOW MOLECULAR WEIGHT SULPHATED POLYSACCHARIDES:
- They have also been shown to have properties against the formation of clots and thrombi.
- But one of its most appreciated effects is its anticancer ability to inhibit the proliferation of certain types of metastases.
- Fulcans bind to the surface of the membrane of colon and lung cancer cells and inhibit their growth.
In summary, research indicates that algae are rich in vitamins, as they contain a high concentration of the most important: A, B1, B2, C, D and E (Condezo-Hoyos, Pérez-López and Rupérez, 2015; Badimon, Vilahur and Padro, 2010).
Each type of algae has higher levels of some vitamins or others. For this reason, it is interesting to consume different types of seaweed, to make the most of the benefits of each of them.
For example, Nori seaweed has a high concentration of beta-carotene or provitamin A, which protects eyesight, while Spirulina and Hijiki seaweed stand out for the contribution of vitamin B, which helps the growth and proper functioning of cells. Sea lettuce seaweed and Wakame seaweed, meanwhile, are rich in vitamins C and E.
These and other nutrients, as well as their high fiber content, are what make seaweed full of health benefits, among which we highlight the following (Jiménez-Escrig, Gómez-Ordóñez and Rupérez, 2015; Arshadi, Mateos-Aparicio, Rupérez et al., 2016): they strengthen bones, have anti-inflammatory properties, help control cholesterol, promote cardio-circulatory health, facilitate digestion and prevent constipation, satisfy without gaining weight and help lose weight, strengthen immune system and, finally, they are diuretic and depurative.
Seen like this, it seems almost crazy not to consume this superfood that is full of benefits and that the sea offers us so generously, within reach of our hands and pockets.
Agregán, R., Franco, D., Carballo, J., Tomasevic, I., Barba, FJ., Gómez, B., Muchenje, V. and Lorenzo, JM. (2018). Shelf life study of healthy pork liver pâté with added seaweed extracts from Ascophyllum nodosum, Fucus vesiculosus and Bifurcaria bifurcata. Food Res. Int., 112 (5), 400-411.
Arshadi, M., Mateos-Aparicio, I., Rupérez, P. et al. (2016). Pre-treatment and extraction techniques for recovery of added value compounds from wastes throughout the agro-food chain. Green Chem 18 (1), 6160-6204.
Badimon, L., Vilahur, G. and Padro, T. (2010). Nutraceuticals and atherosclerosis, human trials. Cardiovasc Therap. 28 (1), 202-215.
Barbosa, AI., Coutinho, AJ., Costa, SA. and Reis, S. (2019). Marine polysaccharides in pharmaceutical applications: Marine Polysaccharides in Pharmaceutical Applications: Fucoidan and Chitosan as Key Players in the Drug Delivery Match Field. Marine Drugs, 17 (12), pii: E654.
Condezo-Hoyos, L., Pérez-López, E., Rupérez, P. (2015). Improved evaporative light scattering detection for carbohydrate analysis. Food Chem., 180 (1), 265-271.
Gómez-Ordóñez, E., Jiménez-Escrig, A., Rupérez, P. (2014). Bioactivity of sulfated polysaccharides from the edible red seaweed Mastocarpus stellatus. Bioact Carbohydr Dietary Fiber, 3 (1), 29-40.
Jiménez-Escrig, A., Gómez-Ordóñez, E. and Rupérez, P. (2015). Infrared characterization, monosaccharide profile and antioxidant activity of chemical fractionated polysaccharides from the edible seaweed sugar Kombu (Saccharina latissima). Int. J. Food Sci. Technol., 50 (2), 340-346.
Melo, FR., Pereira, MS., Foguels, D. and Mourao, PA. (2014). Antithrombinmediated-anticoagulant activity of sulfated polysaccharides: Differentmechanisms for heparin and sulfated galactans. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 279 (20), 20824-20835.