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Alginate: Seaweed Extract Revolutionizing Food and Nutrition

Seaweed extract, known as alginate, is emerging as a versatile ingredient in food manufacturing and nutrition. Its benefits range from aiding in the production of consistent high-quality food products to potential weight control advantages.

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BNN Correspondents
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Alginate: Seaweed Extract Revolutionizing Food and Nutrition

Seaweed extract, known as alginate, is gradually gaining recognition as a versatile ingredient in food manufacturing and nutrition. This natural fiber, found in sea kelp, plays a pivotal role in the production of food items such as ice cream, onion rings, and beer. Jeffrey Pearson, a professor of molecular physiology at Newcastle University, sheds light on this versatile ingredient's contributions to the food industry.

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Alginate's Role in Food Manufacturing

Alginate contributes to the consistent production of high-quality food products. For instance, it helps prevent ice crystal formation in ice cream, ensuring a smooth and creamy texture. In processed foods like onion rings, alginate maintains uniformity, enhancing the consumer experience. It even helps sustain the frothy head on beer, improving its visual appeal and taste over time.

Seaweed: The Rising Superfood

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Beyond its utility in food manufacturing, seaweed itself is fast becoming recognized as a 'superfood' in Western countries. Already a staple in coastal Asian diets, seaweed is gaining popularity in the West due to its nutritional and sustainable properties. However, consumers should be aware that while seaweed in its natural form is low in calories and rich in protein, fiber, polyphenols, and iodine, processed seaweed snacks can be high in salt and additives.

Nutritional Benefits and Weight Control

Seaweed's nutritional properties contribute to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and can aid in managing blood pressure and thyroid function. Pearson's research suggests that some types of seaweed could aid in weight control for overweight or obese individuals. This is attributed to the inhibition of lipase, an enzyme involved in fat digestion, potentially reducing fat absorption from the diet by up to 75%.

Seaweed's role in our diets and food production is evolving, with its benefits transcending mere culinary applications. As a sustainable, nutrient-rich superfood with potential weight-control advantages, it is set to become a regular feature on our plates and in our food manufacturing processes.

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