Recent interest in seaweeds as a source of macronutrients, micronutrients, and bioactive components has highlighted prospective applications within the functional food and nutraceutical industries, with impetus toward the alleviation of risk factors associated with noncommunicable diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. This narrative review summarizes the nutritional composition of edible seaweeds; evaluates the evidence regarding the health benefits of whole seaweeds, extracted bioactive components, and seaweed-based food products in humans; and assesses the potential adverse effects of edible seaweeds, including those related to ingestion of excess iodine and arsenic. If the potential functional food and nutraceutical applications of seaweeds are to be realized, more evidence from human intervention studies is needed to evaluate the nutritional benefits of seaweeds and the efficacy of their purported bioactive components. Mechanistic evidence, in particular, is imperative to substantiate health claims.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding/support. This review was funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) under Ireland’s National Development Plan 2007–2013, via The PreMara Project, project no. 13F511. P.C. is a recipient of a Department for Employment and Learning Northern Ireland (DELNI) postgraduate studentship. C.O’H. is undertaking an InterTradeIreland FUSION program between Ulster University and VOYA Products Ltd.
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- Functional foods
- Heavy metals
- Marine bioactives