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Nutrition from the sea

General, Minerals | April 8, 2018 | Author: Naturopath

general, Digestion

Nutrition from the sea

People have been harnessing food from the sea for 1000s of years. Not only do we have an abundant choice of fish to eat, we also can choose from crustacean, such as shell fish and lobster, and various types of algae such as sea weed, chlorella and spirulina.

Numerous studies have shown the health benefits of seafood. Some of the best sources of nutritional fats (such as eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexsaenoic acid – EPA/DHA), protein, vitamins, and minerals that promote health can be found in seafood. Some of these health benefits include:

  • Cholesterol lowering
  • Anti – inflammatory
  • Anti – oxidant

A large amount of the beneficial health effects of seafood have been contributed to the naturally high amounts of PUFA Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. This is due to fact that marine phytoplankton has a high ratio of EPA and DHA these fatty acids are accumulated in the food chain starting from the phytoplankton. 
Clck Here for further reading - Fish Oil 

Antioxidation comes from the carotenoids; fat-soluble brilliant yellow and orange pigments. These help to inactivate the harmful reactive oxygen species, and include astaxanthin, lycopene, and fucoxanthin.
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What is algae?

Alga (singular) is described by oxford dictionaries as a simple, nonflowering plant of a large group that includes the seaweeds and many single-celled forms. They contain chlorophyll but lack true stems, roots, leaves, and vascular tissue.

What is algae?Algae has become a popular source of food of late as people explore different culinary alternatives, but the truth is algae has been consumed for thousands of years. Algae is also marketed as a functional food.

Different forms of algae, and often depending on where they are obtained from, can determine the content of nutrition and health-giving value.

Types of algae include:

  • Seaweeds
  • Chlorella
  • Spirulina


Seaweed, or macroalgae, is a general term applying to several species of macroscopic, multicellular, marine algae. They are very high in fibre, calcium, magnesium and iron and trace minerals.

 Seaweed is based on the pigmentation and is classed as:

  • Red - phycoerythrin and phycocyanin are their principal pigments and they contain polysaccharides, agars and carrageenans.
  • Brown – which are very high in polysaccharides such as cellulose
  • Green macroalgae which is green due to the presence of chlorophyll and ulvan, a major polysaccharide component.

In animal studies, polysaccharides extracted from various edible seaweeds have been found to reduce total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-cholesterol. This may be due to blocking of fat absorption in the small intestine or from an increased excretion of sterols and biliary acids from the bowel. In addition, sulfated polysaccharides, such as fucoidan and carrageenans, have been recognized to possess a number of biological activities including:

  • anticoagulants (blood thinning)
  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory

You might be familiar with these types of Seaweeds 

  • You might be familiar with these types of Seaweeds -Nori – this is the one around your sushi roll
  • Kelp – can be high in iodine so use with caution. Use organic, dried kelp as an additive to soups, salads or stir fries. Is available as a supplement for weight loss due to its high iodine content.
  • Kombu, arame, sea lettuce, dulse, wakame
  • Chlorella - A green, edible freshwater algae often sold as a supplement in powdered form. Agar and carrageenan are jelly-like substances obtained from algae and are used as plant-based binding and thickening agents in a variety of commercially sold food products.

Nutritional value

Spirulina and chlorella are two forms of algae that have been found to have a protein content of approximately 70% of dried weight, found to be similar to egg protein, containing all the essential amino acids that cannot be made by the body, and must be obtained from the diet. Historically, wild spirulina was harvested by cultures outside Europe and North America as a high protein rich food source but more recently both spirulina and chlorella are farmed and harvested for market.


Spirulina (Blue-green algae) is listed as a type of alga but it does however have a different structure than other algae and is therefore technically known as cyanobacteria, one of the photosynthetic prokaryotes (a microscopic single-celled organism) found in aquatic ecosystems.

Spirulina is a nutritious product containing a rich source of essential amino acids, γ-linolenic acid (GLA), fibre, B vitamins, calcium, phosphorous, iron, pigments such as β-carotene, xanthophylls, and chlorophyll, and other bioactive compounds.

Studies have revealed an abundance of health benefits from blue-green algae which include offering:

  • Antiviral
  • Antitumor
  • Antioxidant
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Antiallergic
  • Antidiabetic
  • Antibacterial properties

Studies have also shown Algae exerts a positive effect towards cardiovascular disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver

Cardiovascular Disease

Studies demonstrated that the properties from active components from several BGA species are able to lower total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in blood. 

Cardiovascular DiseaseThey do this by modulation of intestinal cholesterol absorption and hepatic lipogenic gene expression.

BGA can also reduce production of pro-inflammatory mediators, reducing inflammation; inhibit the oxidation of fats (lipids) and scavenge free radicals (the guys that cause oxidation), all of which can be beneficial for the protection against oxidative stress in heart disease. 

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

NAFLD is the name given for inflammation of the liver in patients without alcohol consumption or other causes of hepatitis. Obesity and diabetes are major cause of disease in Australia and considered contributors to NAFLD. BGA was able to reduce oxidation decrease hepatic lipids – meaning reduce the fat accumulating in the liver in NFLD and limit the damaging effect of these lipids.
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Spirulina and Chlorella

Spirulina and Chlorella can be added to food to increase the protein and other nutritional contents or consumed by themselves. Try a green smoothie by adding 2 teaspoons of spirulina or chlorella to -

  • 1 cup of milk (try almond, coconut or soy milk)
  • 1 cup of fresh or frozen mixed berries of your choice or a banana
  • Add little honey, maple syrup, or stevia to sweeten for a sweet optional

In conclusion

To sum it up there is evidence the bioactive components derived from fish, shellfish, and seaweeds could have a positive impact on in the maintenance and enhancement of health.
As with all things, use caution and do not over-use. Check with your health care provider if you are on medication or suffering from illness before use.
Click Here for further reading - Heavy Metals in Fish  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Seafood Consumption and Components for Health

Algae as nutritional and functional food sources: revisiting our understanding

Health Benefits of Blue-Green Algae: Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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