Algae, a diverse group of aquatic plants, have long been recognized as a source of nutrition and health benefits. Algae are rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids that play important roles in maintaining overall health. In this article, we will explore the science behind algae nutrition and the ways it can improve your well-being.
Algae is a superfood that is packed with essential nutrients, such as protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It is also low in calories and fat. According to studies, algae can help improve heart health by reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Moreover, it has anti-inflammatory properties that can boost the immune system and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer.
Algae is a superfood that contains all essential nutrients required to stay healthy. It is an excellent source of protein and fiber, making it an ideal food for vegetarians and vegans. It also contains high levels of vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, iodine, and magnesium that are necessary for maintaining strong bones, boosting the immune system, and supporting overall wellness. Studies show that consuming algae can reduce cholesterol levels and blood pressure which can lower the risk of heart disease. Additionally, algae has anti-inflammatory properties that help protect against cancer-causing toxins by strengthening the immune system. Overall, incorporating algae into your diet enhances your well-being in various ways and displays health benefits.
Algae comprise a diverse group of mostly photosynthetic organisms that are distributed across the tree of life. They include both micro- and macroscopic forms, making them the most genetically diverse set of organisms on the planet. Algae can be broadly classified into eleven major phyla: Cyanophyta, Chlorophyta, Rhodophyta, Glaucophyta, Euglenophyta, Chlorarachniophyta, Charophyta, Cryptophyta, Haptophyta, Heterokontophyta, and Dinophyta. The major groups of eukaryotic algae evolved through endosymbiotic events that led to highly diverse lineages. For instance, primary endosymbiosis of a cyanobacterium gave rise to the chloroplast in Glaucophytes, Rhodophytes and Chlorophytes. Secondary endosymbiosis with green algae led to two major groups: Euglenids and photosynthetic Rhizarians (the Chlorarachniophyte), while red alga undergoing secondary endosymbiosis resulted in four different phyla – Cryptista (Cryptomonads), Stramenopiles (diatoms), Haptista (Haptaphyses) and Dinoflagellates. Finally tertiary endosymbioses have been found between some dinoflagellates from the order Suessiales (Suessiaceae), which contains Karenia mikimotoiand Kryptoperidinium foliaceum for example,and either haptophyte algae or other dinoflagellates themselves. These complex evolutionary events have resulted in some algae having genomes greater than 500 Gbps!
Algae have been used for food with health benefits, particularly in Asia. The commercial cultivation of microalgae specifically for biomass, however, only began around 60 years ago. In the 1960s, Chlorella vulgaris was produced in Japan and Taiwan, while the mass production of Arthrospira (formerly known as Spirulina), Dunaliella salina, and the cultivation of Haematococcus pluvialis were developed in the USA, Israel, Australia, China, and Thailand during the 1980s. Nowadays, when it comes to dietary supplements made from dried biomass, Arthrospira and Chlorella are dominant in the market.
Anti-inflammatory effects of Algae and their involvement in health benefits
Algae, specifically microalgae, have been found to contain natural compounds with anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds include carotenoids, PUFAs, modified carbohydrates, phycobiliproteins, phenolic compounds and terpenoids. Research has shown that these compounds can inhibit pro-inflammatory cytokine production and reduce the expression of pro-inflammatory genes. They can also modulate enzyme activities such as phospholipase A2, COX2 and NOS, as well as interfere with important signaling pathways such as NF-κB and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways which play a role in the production of inflammatory mediators. Additionally, some algae extracts have antioxidant properties which may further contribute to their anti-inflammatory effects. While there are mixed results on the use of medicinal plants or dietary supplements with bioactive plant-based extracts for inflammation reduction purposes, algae show promising potential health benefits.