Although seaweeds have been around for over 2.5 billion years, many of us are unaware of the unique complex bioactive compounds that these marine plants contain compared to terrestrial plants. As such, seaweeds can provide natural nutritional and functional benefits for product formulations across the functional food, nutraceutical and cosmetics sectors.
Seaweed has evolved to contain natural antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral, antiaging and other powerful protections. While there is still a lot to uncover, the seaweed secrets we have learned about so far come from knowledge we have gained about some of the many species of nutritionally dense, highly versatile, biologically complex marine plants found in our oceans, with more being continuously discovered by researchers around the globe. It is still a relatively small community of research and while peer-reviewed white papers are being increasingly published, there is still much to learn about seaweeds. This growing information will be important for product formulators who are looking for advanced functionality for their products, as well as keeping pace with consumer trends demanding fewer ingredients in products, cleaner labels and traceable and sustainable ingredients.
The benefits of seaweed have been recognised and utilized by the agriculture industry for decades. They have long been understood by agronomists to be an important input alongside fertilizers, providing a bio stimulant-type effect and synergies to activate necessary soil microbes, encouraging strong root growth and defending plants against drought, heat and other environmental challenges. Ranchers and veterinarians have also benefited from this knowledge as they see increased conception rates and milk production across many species of animals when seaweed is a regular feed ingredient.
In human research, there is reason to hope that seaweeds may hold important secrets leading to scientific breakthroughs in diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
The secrets of seaweeds are being quickly unraveled, proving themselves to be an excellent ingredient option in functional food, nutraceutical and cosmetics due to their potent antioxidant, prebiotic, fiber-rich, antiviral, anti-aging, immune stimulation and many other beneficial effects.