Some research conducted by scientists at Newcastle University suggests that seaweed may be one of the keys to weight loss. The scientists have discovered that alginate found in sea kelp prohibits the digestion of fat in the intestine. The findings have been published in Food Chemistry Journal, and showed that by increasing one type of alginate by 400 percent, the amount of fat absorbed was reduced by 75 percent. To many people seaweed may not appear to be appetizing, but the results of the research are very encouraging and researchers hope to begin clinical trials shortly.
The alginate in seaweed which may be the key to weight loss was believed to responsible for prohibiting the action of digestive enzyme, known as pancreatic lipase, which breaks down fat in the body. The researches believe that as less fat is absorbed in the body, the chance of developing conditions such as obesity would be greatly reduced. There were no definitive conclusions drawn from the research, and it is still not clear whether extract from seaweed can lead to improvements in other diseases that are often related to weigh-control, such as diabetes, and it is not suggested that the consumption of seaweed should be used as a substitute for a healthy diet.
In the west there may be some consternation or disbelief that seaweed may be the key to weight loss, but in many Asian diets, seaweed has been a staple for thousands of years, and is considered to be among the healthiest foods in the world. Seaweed is packed with minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins and the research may confirm that they can accelerate weight loss.
With the market for weight loss products being valued close to $600 billion, the research is expected to continue, and researchers have complied a list of seaweed that appear to hold much promise for weight loss.
The use of alginates as food additives is not new, as many products include alginates as thickening agents, and to improve the texture of low-fat foods. They have also been used in medicines or products that promote healing. However, the research was conducted to demonstrate the activity as weight loss product under controlled laboratory conditions. Different types of alginates were tested on different types of fats. Researchers examined the responses on both artificial and naturally occurring fats, and observed the statistical differences with the activity of the pancreatic lipase enzyme.
Researchers concluded that there are indeed some alginates that inhibit activity of the pancreatic lipase enzyme, but more investigation may be need as it does not demonstrate that the effect can always be replicated. The reports by the media and findings issued in the journal indicate that link between weight loss and seaweed may be largely speculative at this point.
The next stage in the process before definitive statements can be made, involve the clinical trials, where researchers will investigate the efficacy of alginates as part of a normal diet. It may still be too early to say whether seaweed may be key to weight loss, but with the work that has been accomplished, investigators state the results appear to hold much promise.
By Dale Davidson