Sound gross? If you were born in Japan you wouldn't bat an eye at eating algae. Today, over twenty varieties are a part of Japanese home menus. As far back as 600 BC, algae were considered a delicacy in China. Here in the western world, algae and substances extracted from them are already used in many foods. For example, carrageenan (extracted from a species of red algae) has been used as a stabilizing and gelling agent in foods such as chocolate, milk, instant puddings, frosting and creamed soups. Agar, another substance derived from red algae, is used as a gelatin substitute and as an anti-drying agent in breads and pastry. If you eat frozen dairy products, processed cheese, mayonnaise, puddings, creams and jellies, then there's a good chance you're also getting some agar. There is also widespread interest in algae as a nutrient-packed health food. Apparently, blue-green algae, such as Spirulina, are low in fat, high in fibre and contain amino acids, vitamins and trace minerals. However, any health or therapeutic claims have yet to be proven. Depending on the source of the algae, they may even pose a health risk. For instance, in 1999 a Health Canada survey found that many non-Spirulina blue-green algal products harvested from natural lakes, contained microcystins (toxins) above acceptable levels.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.