Seaweed Loves the Heart
February 2012
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A Rich Source of Heart-Healthy Goodness

seaweedSome relish seaweed, while others eye it with culinary suspicion. Now an article in the American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry reports that many scientists have identified seaweed as a rich, potential source of heart-healthy food ingredients. A review of nearly 100 studies shows that seaweed and other microalgae could rival milk products as sources of important bioactive peptides.

Maria Hayes, Ph.D., and her colleagues at the Teagasc Food Research Centre, in Dublin, Ireland, concluded that certain seaweed proteins work just like the bioactive peptides in milk products to reduce blood pressure, almost like angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor drugs. Thus, they could be used as ingredients in functional foods like soups and health beverages to provide nutrition, while offering medicinal effects in treating or preventing heart disease.

Seaweeds are a neglected alternative source of these bioactive peptides in this country, the researchers state, noting its popularity in other cultures. Varieties of seaweed are known as
nori in Japan, dulse in coastal parts of Europe and limu palahalaha in native Hawaiian cuisine.

In addition, notes Hayes, “Seaweeds are a known source of essential fatty acids, which are thought to reduce thrombosis and atherosclerosis—factors important in the reduction of the risk of heart disease.”