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The potential of microalgae in functional food and nutraceuticals


In this article, researchers from Malaysia, India, China, and Vietnam listed the various health benefits offered by microalgae and explored their potential in human food production. Their study was published in the journal Food Science and Human Wellness.

  • Microalgae are an exceedingly diverse group of eukaryotic organisms. Microalgae species are rich in proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and other bioactive compounds.
  • Spirulina sp. and Chlorella sp. are some of the most popular and heavily cultured species of microalgae due to their numerous health benefits.
  • Spirulina sp. are rich in protein and are excellent sources of vitamins A, B1, and B2. They are also believed to lower LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
  • Chlorella sp. are marketed as healthy functional foods. They aid in preventing and treating common ailments and even chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.
  • Microalgae nutrients are loosely grouped into four categories: pigments, proteins and amino acids, vitamins, and antioxidants.
  • Pigments include carotenoids (vitamin A), B-carotene (provitamin A), astaxanthin (antioxidant), chlorophyll (detoxifying), and phycobiliproteins (anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and neuroprotective).
  • Microalgae can serve as an alternative source of dietary protein.
  • Microalgae offer four vitamins in high concentrations: provitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, and folic acid.
  • Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which can cause chronic diseases like cancer. Antioxidants are pivotal in cell and tissue damage control.
  • There is an increased demand for microalgae-based functional foods. However, production of such foods is not yet fully developed, making it cost-heavy.

The researchers believe that microalgae offer a wide range of nutritional benefits, but they are still largely untapped due to the microorganims’ capital-intensive nature.

Read the full study at this link.

Journal Source:

Koyande AK, Chew KW, Rambabu K, Tao Y, Chu DT, Show PL. MICROALGAE: A POTENTIAL ALTERNATIVE TO HEALTH SUPPLEMENTATION FOR HUMANS. Food Science and Human Wellness. March 2019;8(1):16–24. DOI: 10.1016/j.fshw.2019.03.001

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