Seaweed Could Help Fight Obesity

Seaweed is a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes, from sushi to salads. Now, studies show that seaweed could also help curb obesity.

New research suggests that seaweed could be the latest weapon in an attempt combat the obesity epidemic.  Researchers from Newcastle University in Australia found that sea kelp fiber, called alginates, can lower the body’s fat uptake by 75 percent or more.

This natural fiber could be added to products that many people eat every day, like biscuits, bread and yogurts, researchers say, and the greater part of fat from the meal would simply pass through the body.

Clinical trials are currently in the works to see how effective seaweed would be in a normal diet. In the trials, the scientists used the aid of an “artificial gut” to determine the effectiveness of more than 60 different natural fibers by evaluating the extent to which they impacted fat digestion.

The early results seem promising.  Dr. Ian Brownlee, who co-led the research team, noted, “Our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion. There are countless claims about miracle cures for weight loss, but only a few cases offer any sound scientific evidence to back up these claims. ”

However, Dr. Brownlee believes that these early tests suggest that the fiber in sea kelp could offer a very real solution in the battle against the obesity epidemic.

The research is part of a three-year project funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

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