Algae can be valuable allies for health, whether whole added to soups, salads or cooked vegetables, or in the form of a supplement. In fact, algae can help fight overweight, inflammation and cellular degeneration. But let's understand better on the basis of a recent review published in the Marine Drugs journal by a Portuguese team (Lomartire et al, Mar Drugs, 2021).
Algae, general properties
Algae are a food rich in nutrients. In fact, algae contain vitamins, such as A, group B, also vitamins B12, C, D, E and K. Not only that, algae provide mineral salts such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, zinc, selenium but also fibers. and antioxidant, anticancer and anti-inflammatory substances. Algae contain little fat but those present are unsaturated fatty acids, protective for the heart. Algae are of three types, brown, red and green, and the different color determines their healthy properties.
Brown algae against obesity and degeneration
Brown algae contain substances called fucoidans, which show antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antithrombotic properties. Not only that, the brownish color is given by the presence of a particular type of carotenoid, fucoxanthin that, in addition to fighting the aging processes and cellular degeneration, is also capable of counteracting overweight and obesity. Brown algae contain linoleic acid, which belongs to the omega 6 fatty acids, but also fatty acids of the omega 3 type. Examples of brown algae are kalm algae, kombu algae and kelp algae, which are also characterized by the presence of iodine, so care must be taken in case of thyroid problems. Another very interesting brown seaweed is the Ecklonia cava seaweed, which you can also find as tablets. It contains substances with an anti-hypertensive but also anti-diabetic action. Not only that, this alga has also shown an interesting neuroprotective action, with improvements, following its intake, in memory and learning ability. The arame seaweed, which belongs to the brown seaweed family, is capable of counteracting allergies. Fucus, due to its iodine content, is used to stimulate metabolism and fight obesity.
Immunostimulating red algae
Red algae, used for example to make the gelling agent agar agar, have anticoagulant and anticancer properties, capable of activating the natural defenses against cell degeneration but also against any type of external threat, including virus, being immunostimulating. Red algae contain terpenes, which are powerful antioxidants but also antifungals and antibacterials, vitamin C, which is useful to promote the absorption of iron, and calcium. For example, for the same quantity of product, Irish seaweed or Irish moss, which is always red algae, contains more calcium than milk.
Anti-aging green algae
Green algae owe their color to the dominant presence of chlorophyll. These algae also contain carotenoids, such as beta carotene and xanthophyll, which protect the algae from UV rays and therefore develop antioxidant properties that are also useful for human health. In fact, green algae are anti-aging, anticoagulant, anticancer and antibacterial. An example of green seaweed is given by the ulva or sea lettuce, which is also found in dried form or as a supplement.