Scientists say they’ve found a way to turn seaweed into “super seaweed” by increasing its health and medicinal value, according to a report from SWNS.
The researchers are hoping the “boosted” seaweed can be used in “the superfood, drug and cosmetic industries of the future,” the British news service said.
Scientists from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute managed to double the seaweed’s antioxidants, triple the amount of natural sunscreen and boost unique protective pigments of great medical value ten-fold.
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The advanced technology even promotes an environmentally friendly approach of “sustainable integrated aquaculture” in which the seaweed purifies the water and maintains the ecological balance, said SWNS.
Published in Marine Drugs, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, the study claims to have made groundbreaking findings in the field of marine-derived health and medicinal compounds.
Author and doctoral student Doron Ashkenazi told SWNS, “Seaweed, also known as macroalgae, are marine plants that form the basis of the coastal marine ecosystem. The seaweed absorb[s] carbon dioxide and release[s] oxygen into the environment.”
He said the seaweed plants “purify the water [and] provide food, habitat and shelter for numerous species of fish and invertebrates.”
The researchers are eyeing anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibiotic substances.
Ashkenazi added, “Not many are aware … [that] seaweed produce a wide variety of distinct bio-active compounds that are beneficial to humans … In order to survive, the seaweed have developed a unique set of chemical defense mechanisms, natural chemicals that help them cope with these harsh environments.”
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He also said, “One could say that seaweed are [a] highly efficient natural factory for the production of valuable substances that may offer significant benefits to humans.”
The team grew three local types of seaweed — Ulva, Gracilaria and Hypnea — alongside fish effluents, and subsequently exposed to various stress conditions, namely high irradiance, nutrient starvation and high salinity, said SWNS.
They looked at how the changes affected the concentration of specific valuable biomaterials in the seaweed — with the aim of enhancing their production.
The team found a way to “replicate the results minus the stressors.”
The results showed increases in their concentrations, SWNS reported — so the team found a way to “replicate the results minus the stressors.”
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Ashkenazi said, “We developed optimal cultivation conditions and invented a new and clean way to increase levels of healthy natural bio-active compounds … We produced ‘super seaweed’ tailor-designed to be [used] by emerging health industries for food and health applications.”
The researchers are eyeing anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibiotic substances, said SWNS.
The scientists say seaweed aquaculture is environmentally friendly and minimizes excessive amounts of manmade nutrients.
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Ashkenazi added, “The study demonstrates, in a practical manner, how we can enjoy nature … without harming it.”
He also said, “We can learn from nature how to preserve it, and thus live and prosper alongside it.”