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Algae (Part 1) - Nutritional Properties - Health Benefits

The name may leave puzzling ... The image may seem obscure ... The taste may seem strange ... And yet, to pass from "It's edible?" to "but, it's delicious!", it does not take much...


algae

Algae, we regularly consume ... without knowing it. These are the alginates and agars, better known by their references E401 to E407. Without caloric intake, they replace advantageously in many cooked dishes the butters and the creams.

The foul-smelling algae on the beaches also have nothing to do with live algae harvested by hand in marine areas classified by UNESCO as "Biosphere Reserve, World Heritage". Nor is there any concentration in the algae of toxic products as in shellfish. On the contrary: it is thanks to the action of algae that the sea regenerates itself from possible external attacks...

Good for the ocean, sips of the benefits of seawater, algae are therefore obviously beneficial for our body, composed of 70% water. And this in remarkable proportions! Algae provide 10 to 20 times more minerals salts and vitamins than terrestrial foods !

- Proteins in the form of amino acids, effortlessly bioavailable and basifying, unlike other sources of protein (equal to soybeans, superior to meat).

- 18 to 35% of minerals and trace elements in balanced form (they are all present!): Calcium (5 times more than milk), Magnesium (4 times more than wheat germ), Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc , Copper, Gold, Silver ... plus 13 vitamins.

- Carbohydrates in the form of soft fibers, effective against the tendency to sugar and intestinal laziness. These provide energy while being low-calorie. The algae are thus excellent "appetite suppressant" !

- Enzymes that facilitate digestion.


The Benefits of Algae

Cancer: Studies have shown that different algae or their compounds have the ability to counteract the development of mammary tumors in animals and induce the death of certain cancer cells in vitro. Algae, which tend to be opposed to estrogen, could be a protective factor in the development of hormone-dependent cancers such as breast or prostate.

Epidemiological studies indicate that populations consuming an Asian diet have a lower incidence of these cancers compared to populations with a North American diet. This finding has largely been attributed to the high consumption of soybeans in Asians, but the high consumption of algae in this population may also play a role. In addition, iodine and selenium deficiency, two abundant nutrients in algae, could play a role in the formation of breast cancer.

General Health. It is known that regular consumption of vegetables (including algae) contributes to maintaining good health and preventing a host of ailments. The particular action of algae on cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypercholesterolemia and hypertension is due, among other things, to the antioxidants, fibers and phytosterols they contain.


What is contained in algae?


Antioxidants

Several extracts of brown, red and green algae grown in Europe or Asia have demonstrated antioxidant activity in vitro. Their antioxidant composition and antioxidant capacity vary depending on a number of factors, including the depth of where they grow and the degree of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Algae contain various antioxidant compounds including carotenoids (lutein and zeaxanthin), flavonoids (catechins), phenolic acids (tannins) as well as certain vitamins (mainly vitamins C and E).


Carotenoids

Fucoxanthin (a carotenoid extracted from wakame) has been shown to decrease the viability of colon cancer cells in vitro. In addition, fucoxanthin has recently been associated with the prevention of obesity in rats. This effect would be due to its action on a protein specific to the adipose tissue of animals. For the time being, these results cannot be transposed in humans, since no studies have been carried out on the subject.


Phytosterols

Wakame and nori contain phytosterols. These compounds chemically resemble cholesterol and prevent the absorption of cholesterol into the body. Consumption of phytosterols may lower cholesterol levels in the blood, especially LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol).


Fucoidan

An in vitro study published in 2010 shows that fucoidan (a sugar found in brown marine algae) induces the death of human leukemic cells thanks to the production of nitric oxide (NO). The authors mention that fucoidan may increase the efficacy of traditional chemotherapy agents to cause the death of cancer cells. In another in vitro study, fucoidan destroyed cancerous breast cells. According to the authors, fucoidan is a promising compound in the prevention of breast cancer and its therapeutic value deserves to be analyzed.


Omega-3 in algae

Algae contain very little fat. They cannot therefore be considered as an interesting source of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (AEP and ADH) which contribute to the good functioning of the heart and the brain. However, the microscopic algae on which the fish feed are very rich. They are also used for the production of omega-3 supplements.


Iodine

Iodine is included in the composition of thyroid hormones, necessary for the regulation of growth, development and metabolism. On the other hand, excessive concentrations of iodine can cause problems in the functioning of the thyroid gland. Despite the relatively high amounts of iodine in nori, its usual consumption does not present a significant health risk. On the other hand, it is recommended that people who consume algae regularly select those containing the least amount of iodine, such as sea lettuce, porphyry (Japanese nori) and dulse. One or two leaves of nori (equivalent to 8 to 15 sushi) are sufficient to meet the daily needs of iodine.


Algae, vegetables from the sea

Since the dawn of time, the peoples of the sea coast have been eating seaweeds which they have selected empirically for their gustative qualities and their virtues. Far Eastern populations have even made certain species of longevity foods like ginseng. Indeed, these marine plants contain all the elements of the ocean and, remarkably, in proportions close to the ideal for our food needs. But it is above all by their taste that they seduce the public. A new taste has appeared in the cooking: the vegetables of the sea give us the taste of the open sea. Do you know that 60% of the oxygen of our planet comes from microscopic algae? Phytoplankton...

Algae allow the oxygenation of sea water by chlorophyll synthesis. They play for the ocean the same role as the plant kingdom for the earth: recycling of toxic materials and environmental sanitation. Far from being suspicious, the seaweed is a "witness of pollution" and it always seeks to clean up the environment.

Example: A petroleum hydrocarbon pollution does not resist the action of bacteria and algae, the area is cleaned in 7 years. These plants are proliferating in some places because it is a natural defense system specific to the planetary ecosystem in the event of pollution. In these unbalanced areas, it is obvious that we cannot harvest food algae.


Submarine gardens miraculously spared

Fortunately, there are unaffected areas, sites where natural conditions (currents, relief, tidal amplitude) contribute favorably to preserving the bacteriological and chemical purity of water. In general, important algal fields are found in this type of environment. These sites are studied and documented by oceanographers and form part of the World Heritage of Protected Areas.

It is in these classified areas, based on regular analyzes, that the harvesting of algae and aquaculture are authorized (mussels, oysters).


A key food daily for our balance

True bombs of vitamins, minerals and trace elements (6 to 34%), the algae have peaks of highly sought-after nutrients in their natural form: some have calcium levels of 8 to 14 times equals to that of milk and are largely provided with potassium and magnesium which help to assimilate it, while being devoid of fats.

Allergies to dairy products are becoming more common. The introduction of seafood into the diet slowly reduces the attraction for dairy products. Algae are "alkaline" foods and for people suffering from an excess of cholesterol, the phosphorus of the algae replaces advantageously that of the cheese.

The advantage is twofold for our sedentary lifestyle: decreased fat intake, relaxation of the elimination organs and increased energy for digestion.


The full energy without calories

Marine algae is a valuable support in the elimination regimes because it is a complete and yet low-calorie food, which makes it possible to normalize the weight without suffering from hunger, fatigue or deficiency. Thanks to a high content of non-assimilable carbohydrates (soft fibers), they provide a lot of energy, a sense of satiety (healthy appetite suppressant) and facilitate natural elimination. These are qualities also recognized for the prevention of colon cancer.


A novelty in the cooking: the taste of the open sea

Rich in enzymes, containing chlorophyll and almost all vitamins, including * B12, rare in plants, it is a health asset to consume them raw or sautéed a few minutes to the Chinese cooking, especially green algae.

Sea vegetables are the joy of those who know them and know how to discreetly add them to their diet - whatever it is. They marry admirably to all foods. The daily ration varies according to age and needs. A small amount is enough and it is the regularity that counts.

If you are lacking nutrients, you can have a strong attraction for algae. Follow this desire and your consumption will balance by itself. In the long term, the ideal is a regular intake especially for the harmonious growth of children and cellular regeneration.

Eat more in the winter when there is less light, when you are tired or you have an effort to provide. Think about it when you feel weak at the immune level.


Nutritional properties


Chlorophyll :

Algae contain the highest chlorophyll content of all foods. Chlorophyll is essential for a good oxygenation of the blood, it is also essential to many functions within our organism.


Minerals:

Algae are the largest source of mineral salts among all foods (25%).

Among these, the seaweed contains 20 times more calcium than milk (wakame and dulse) associated with good quantities of potassium and magnesium which help its assimilation and who is more in a favorable alkaline ground.

Sea lettuce contains twice as much iron as wheat germ and 12 times more than lentils.

Algae contain 5 to 10 times more magnesium than wheat germ. They are champions of all categories as for the magnesium intake.

5g dry cover 100% of daily requirements.

The mineral salts contained in algae of organic origin are better assimilated. Hence the interest of consuming algae.


Fibers :

Dietary fiber helps lower cholesterol levels in the blood. They allow to reduce the need for insulin.

Low in calories, algae provide energy, dissolving excess fat thanks to the specific element of the alga which is algine, a glucidic compound of mucilaginous character. This substance exerts an attraction on the toxins of the body, including heavy metals, and contributes to a good intestinal transit.

The algae contain interesting amounts of fibers, particularly in soluble form. Depending on the variety, a portion of fresh algae can contain up to 8% of the recommended amount of fiber daily. Dried seaweed, meanwhile, would contain 35% to 50% of their weight in fiber form. In general, a diet high in dietary fiber can contribute to the prevention of cardiovascular disease, as well as control of type 2 diabetes and appetite. Fibers in algae may be more effective in decreasing blood cholesterol and hypertension than those from other sources.

Marine brown algae (laminaria longicruris) found in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, more specifically in Gaspé, Quebec, are particularly rich in two types of soluble fiber: laminaran (a nondigestible sugar of the Β-glucans family) and fucans. These compounds have several interesting biological properties. The laminaran would fight tumors and modulate the immune response. Fucans have anticoagulant, anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. A team of Quebec researchers observed that the seaweed harvest period influenced on their laminaran and fucan contents.


Amino Acids and Protein:

Proteins consist of amino acids.

Significantly higher than that of meat, fish and soya, the high protein concentration of algae is in the order of 25 to 35%. Ex: 30 g of algae (nori or dulse), bring as many amino acids as 100 g of meat.

Moreover, it is not so much the amount of nutrients that is important, but the way they are naturally combined with amino acids, working in full synergy.

In addition, these amino acids supplement the amino acids of other foods.

The proteins of the algae are fat-free and are in an environment alkalizing, thus deacidifying, the inverse of the meat. Their bioavailability is immediate.

The algae contain all essential and 9 non-essential amino acids, in a distribution close to the needs of the body. Red algae are the richest in protein, followed by green algae and then brown. Nori contains 50% protein, spirulina 70%.


Seaweed or milk:

Gently and gradually introducing algae into our diet reduces the need for dairy products. It turns out that cow's milk does not have 2 essential amino acids, namely histidine and arginine, resulting in incorrect and incomplete digestion. On the other hand, the calcium contained in the algae is found in an alkaline soil, which allows its metabolism, while the acid soil of dairy products prevents it.


Lipids :

Low in fat, 2-3%, rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega 3 and 6, algae are beneficial to the heart, veins and arteries, brain, skin etc...

Their caloric and fat content is low while their nutrient content is high.


Vitamins:

Rich in vitamins A (red algae), vitamins E (brown algae), vitamins C (green algae), and vitamins B.

* Only the nori seaweed could contain vitamin B12.





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