Algae are literally sea vegetables (in the same way that carrots or broccoli are land vegetables) and have been used as food for centuries by peoples with different cultures, such as the Chinese, Japanese, Scottish, Irish, Scandinavian, German, etc. who used them as a traditional medicine for different conditions. Algae have been around for 1200 million years (Tang et al. 2020), and traditionally consumed as food in various forms: raw as salad and vegetables, as pickles, as sugared jellies and also cooked for vegetable soup. As an herbal medicine, seaweed is generally used for traditional cosmetics such as antipyretics and antiseptics, vermifuge and treatments for cough and asthma, hemorrhoids, nosebleeds and boils, goiter and scrofula, stomach and urinary diseases (Anggadiredja et al. 2016). Low in fat, algae have phycocolloids (agar-E406, carrageenan-E407, alginates from E400 to E405) behaving, for the most part, as water-soluble fibers, with practically no caloric value. They also show a wide application in the food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical industries. The study involved 45 adult volunteers divided into groups (control and experimental). The experimental group consumed Gemacol based on phycocolloids, jelly made with seaweed extracts (prepared at the Laboratory of Seaweeds, MARE, University of Coimbra). Volunteers consumed 100 mL of Gemacol per day and at dinner, for 60 days. To estimate the impact of Gemacol on the lipid profile, the levels of total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and glucose were evaluated, to understand the variation in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Serum values after 60 days of jelly intake revealed a statistically significant decrease in TC levels (5.3%; p = 0.001) and LDL-C concentration (5.4%; p = 0.048) in females. The daily ingestion of vegetable jelly for 60 days showed a reduction in serum levels of TC and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in women. Glycemic levels also showed lower mean values after the consumption of vegetable gelatin, leading to the conclusion that phycocolloids have bioactive potential in reducing the concentration of TC and glucose.
Audience Take Away Notes:
- The study aims to evaluate the effect of vegetable gelatin as a nutraceutical in participants with high levels of cholesterol and blood glucose. Daily consumption of vegetable gelatin, derived from seaweed, reduces cholesterol and glucose levels. The control of these markers is important in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
- The replication of the study allows evaluating other populations.