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Seaweed polysaccharide has potential as ‘natural bioactive’

By Nathan Gray+


Bioactive fucoidan compounds found in brown seaweed have great application potential in functional foods, according to a new review.

The Korean researchers noted that natural seaweed compound has been generating ‘a great deal’ of interest parts of the industry as consumers begin to develop interest in functional foods from natural sources.

Writing in the Journal of Functional Foods, the team led by Se-Kwon Kim from Pukyong National University noted that the last decade has seen ‘numerous’ novel compounds to be isolated from marine organisms, “and many of these compounds are potential for industrial development of functional foods.”

“Among them, fucoidans have been found due to their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, anti-tumour, anti-obesity, anti-coagulant, anti-viral, anti-hepatopathy, anti-uropathy, and anti-renalpathy effects,” they said.

First isolated in 1913 by Professor Kylin of Uppsala University, fucoidans are a complex group of polysaccharides found widely in the cell walls of brown seaweeds. Kim and colleagues say that the ‘special properties’ of fucoidans already support its use in functional food applications, however they suggest  further applications are possible.

“The extensive studies of fucoidans will discover novel biological properties as well as novel functional applications in … nutraceuticals, cosmeceuticals, and functional foods.”

Oceans of potential

The team noted that a large number of fucoidans have already been widely identified in marine algae. These fucoidans exhibit various biological activities and health benefit effects, they said.

“It is well-known that the world’s oceans, covering more than 70% of the earth’s surface … Thus, marine environment has been a rich source of both biological and chemical diversity.”

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
Published online ahead of pring, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2012.08.007
“Fucoidans as a natural bioactive ingredient for functional foods”
Authors: Thanh-Sang Vo, Se-Kwon Kim

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