The state-of-the-art technology significantly increases the growth rate, protein levels, healthy carbohydrates, and minerals in the seaweed’s tissues – making the “enriched seaweed” a natural superfood with extremely high nutritional value, which can be used in the future for the health food industry and to secure an unlimited food source, it was claimed.
In an article published in the scientific journal Innovative Food Science & Emerging Technologies, Israeli researchers explained that local species of the algae Ulva, Gracilaria and Hypnea were grown in close proximity to fish farming systems under different environmental conditions. The special conditions allowed the seaweed to flourish, and enabled a significant improvement in their nutritional value to the point of their becoming “enriched seaweed”.
The research was led under the guidance of Prof. Avigdor Abelson from the School of Zoology, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences at Tel Aviv University and Prof. Alvaro Israel of the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute (IOLR) in Tel Shikmona, Haifa.
“Seaweed can be regarded as a natural superfood, more abundant in the necessary components of the human diet than other food sources,” said Doron Ashkenazi, Ph.D. student at Tel Aviv University.
“Through the technological approach we developed, a farm owner or entrepreneur will be able to plan in advance a production line of seaweed rich in the substances in which they are interested, which can be used as health foods or nutritional supplements; for example, seaweed with a particularly high level of protein, seaweed rich in minerals such as iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, or in special pigments or anti-oxidants. The enriched seaweed can be used to help populations suffering from malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, for example disadvantaged populations around the world, as well as supplements to a vegetarian or vegan diet.”
Enabling sustainable and clean agriculture
Moreover, unlike terrestrial agriculture, aquaculture, and in particular the proposed seaweed farming approach, does not require extensive land, fresh water or large amounts of fertilizer. It is environmentally friendly, and preserves nature and the ecological balance by reducing environmental risks, claimed the researchers.
He called on integrated aquaculture to receive more support from governments around the world due to its environmental benefits, which include the reduction of nutrient loads to coastal waters and of the emission of gases and carbon footprints.
“In this way, it contributes to combatting the climate crisis and global warming,” said Ashkenazi: “Technologies of this type are undoubtedly a model for a better future for humanity, a future where humans live in idyll and in health in their environment.”
New aquaculture technology can help ease the global food crisis: “Enriched seaweed” with extremely high nutritional value