Researchers find health benefits of sugar seaweed grown in Connecticut

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Young-ki Park, left, and Ji-Young Lee at the NutriPrevention of Obesity, Inflammation & Liver Disease (NP-OILD) lab. Credit: Peter Morenus / UConn

When most Americans think of algae, they probably evoke images of a viscous plant found on the beach. But algae can also be a nutritious food. A couple of UConn researchers recently discovered that sugar seaweed grown in Connecticut can help prevent weight gain and the onset of obesity-associated diseases.

In an article published in Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry by the Faculty of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources faculty, Young-Ki Park, assistant research professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences and Ji-Young Lee, professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences, the researchers reported from significant findings that supported nutrition. benefits of sugar grown in Connecticut . Brown sugar algae (Saccharina latissima) was found to inhibit liver inflammation and fibrosis in a diet-induced mouse model , a .

They studied the differences between three groups of mouse models. They placed two in high-fat diets, but incorporated seaweed with sugar, a kind of , in the diet of a. The third group followed a low-fat diet as a healthy control. The group that ate seaweed with sugar had lower body weight and less inflammation of adipose tissue, a key factor in a number of obesity-related diseases, than the other high-fat group.

Consumption of seaweed sugar also helped prevent the development of steatosis, the accumulation of fat in the liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a condition often associated with obesity that can cause inflammation and reduce liver function.

Sugar algae diet mice also had healthier intestinal microbiomes. The microbiome is a collection of bacteria and other microorganisms in our body. The diversity and composition of the microbiome are key to maintaining a large number of health functions.

“I wasn’t surprised to see the data, because we know algae are healthy,” Lee says. “But they’re still pretty surprising data, as this is the first scientific evidence of the health benefits of cultivated sugar kelp in Connecticut.”

This study is the first time researchers have analyzed the link between sugar-grown seaweed grown in the United States and obesity.

“No study had been done on this kind of aspect before,” Park says.

Park and Lee saw an opportunity to conduct research on the nutritional science of algae, a growth in the United States. They hoped that by collecting concrete data on the health benefits of sugar kelp, people could be encouraged to consume seaweed.

“Nowadays, consumers are getting smarter,” Lee says. “The nutritional aspect is really important for the growth of the seaweed industry in Connecticut.”

The researchers specifically used sugar algae grown in Connecticut, as Connecticut regulates the safety of algae. This is important to control the heavy metals that algae can absorb from the water.

Most algae consumed in the US are imported. Park and Lee hope more research on the benefits of locally grown seaweed will drive consumers to support the state industry.

“It’s really a growing industry in the world,” Lee says.

After completing this pre-, researchers now hope to move on to clinical studies to investigate the benefits that sugar seaweed can cause for other health problems. They also want to work to reach out to people to teach them how to join seaweed in your diet.

This work represents a fruitful collaboration between researchers, farmers and the state.

“Farmers need to know what we do to help increase their sales,” Park says. “We can be a partner.”

In collaboration with Anoushka Concepcion, an extension educator for the Connecticut Sea Grant Extension Program, and UConn, Park and Lee hope to build stronger partnerships with Connecticut seaweed producers.


Algae benefits from co-cultivation with mussels


More information:
Mi-Bo Kim et al, Sugar Kelp (Saccharina latissima) inhibits liver inflammation and fibrosis in a mouse model of diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry (2021). DOI: 10.1016 / j.jnutbio.2021.108799

Citation: Researchers Find Health Benefits of Sugar Seaweed Grown in Connecticut (2021, June 24) Retrieved June 24, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-06-health-benefits -connecticut-grown-sugar-kelp.html

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