Algae –you may have heard or seen of this before. However, do you know what these are? Well, actually, algae are a varied group of aquatic organisms that have the capacity to conduct the process of photosynthesis. Various types of algae are familiar to some people, just like the seaweeds like phytoplankton and kelp, algal bloom in the lakes, as well as pond scum. Nevertheless, there exists a wide variety of algae, which aren’t just beneficial for us, but are also critical to our own existence. As matter of fact, the algae also contain various essential nutrients beneficial for the health. These are what make up all the health benefits of algae. If you want to know more about algae, feel free to give this article a read.
Algae: What are these?
The terminology, algae can actually cover lots and lots of different organisms that are capable of producing oxygen through the process of photosynthesis. We all know that the photosynthesis is the process of gathering the light energy from the sun in order to produce carbohydrates. These algae are not really closely related with each other. Nevertheless, various features unite them. This is while differentiating them from some other major group of organisms that photosynthesize, like the land plants.
In the actual fact, algae are one of the first form of life here in this planet. It has been consumed as a medicine and a food for over centuries now. Our consumption of the spirulina or the blue-green algae can actually be traced back to the civilization of the Aztecs in the 14th century. The edible varieties of the algae like the chlorella and spirulina are most commonly used in medicines and supplements.
As a matter of fact, the health benefits of algae are so pronounced. This is all because of their high levels of antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals. These are what make the algae one of the superfoods. Moreover, there are certain varieties of algae that have overlapping and distinguishing health benefits.
For instance, the brown algae, which have been in use to laid in weight loss, heart conditions, stress, arthritis, cancer, and many other serious illnesses. On the other hand, the blue green varieties of the algae are also high in essential nutrients and also a strong energy booster. It is used in naturally aiding weight loss, anxiety, stress, depression, hay fever, and many others.
Moreover, studies also suggest that the blue green algae possess anti-bacterial, anti-diabetic, anti-allergic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-tumour, and antiviral properties. These are all beneficial for the health.
Nutritional Value of Algae
Algae may come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and growth forms. They may also be single or multi-celled, and are present in fresh and saltwater. One of the components in the algae that can contribute to the betterment of the health is the chlorophyll. Just like the plants, they use the chlorophyll in order to ruse the sunlight. This is important for them in undergoing photosynthesis.
Moreover, the chlorophyll in the algae is in fact, considered as the single most important chelator in the whole nature. This is because it provides energy to plants, which in turn, also provide us the energy we need. The best sources of this chlorophyll are green vegetables and algae.
The nutritional value of the algae may vary from a product to another. Nonetheless, here is the general idea of the usual nutrient profile of algae. Algae possess the following:
- Phytochemicals like fucoxanthin, chlorophyll, and some other plant pigments
- Active enzymes
- Omega 3 fatty acids like ALA, GLA, DHA, and EPA
- Minerals and trace minerals like zinc, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, and many more
- A lot of vitamin B complex like thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, cobalamin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, niacin, biotin, and choline
- Vitamins C, A, K, E
- Amino acids and proteins
Algae may also differ greatly in their own cellular makeup. A lot are just made up with one cell, while the biggest varieties have millions of cells.
Health Benefits of Algae
Here are some of the most astounding health benefits of algae:
- Helps in lowering cholesterol levels. The fucosterol in algae is beneficial in naturally lowering the cholesterol levels in the body. Naturally, the algae are rich in phytosterols, which are beneficial in reducing the blood cholesterol level.
- Helps in reducing pain and inflammation. Generally, algae possess anti-inflammatory properties like chlorophyll and omega 3 fatty acids. These are what makes it essential in reducing inflammation and pain.
- Aids in heart health. The blue green algae are beneficial in protecting against cardiovascular conditions and non-alcoholic fatty liver conditions, which are two threats for those who are in developed countries.
- May help in fighting cancer. A lot of types of algae may be beneficial in slowing the growth of cancer cells in both laboratory and animal research. This is one of the best health benefits of algae.
- Aids in weight loss. The fucoxanthin content of algae is beneficial in promoting fat burning through the increase of the expression of thermogenin.