When many Americans think of seaweed, they usually envision a slimy plant they come across at the beach. However, seaweed may also be a nutritional meal. A pair of UConn researchers have discovered that sugar kelp cultivated in Connecticut may help prevent weight gain and the beginning of obesity-related illnesses.
Nutrition Benefits Of Sugar Kelp
The researchers discovered major results supporting the nutritional benefits of Connecticut-grown sorghum in a paper published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry by the College of Agriculture, Health, and Natural Resources faculty.
Young-Ki Park, who is an assistant research professor in the Department of Nutritional Sciences, and Ji-Young Lee, who is professor and head of the Department of Nutritional Sciences were the researchers.
Brown sugar kelp (Saccharina latissima) was discovered to reduce hepatic inflammation and fibrosis in a rat model of diet-induced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, often known as fatty liver disease.
They investigated the distinctions between three sets of mice models. They put two on high-fat diets while adding sugar kelp, a kind of seaweed, to the diet of one. As a nutritious control, the third group followed a low-fat diet.
The sugar kelp group had a lower body weight and less adipose tissue inflammation than the other high-fat group, which is a significant contributor to a variety of obesity-related illnesses.
Sugar kelp consumption also aided in the prevention of steatosis, or the buildup of fat in the liver. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a disease that is frequently connected with obesity and can cause inflammation and decreased liver functioning.
The sugar kelp diet also resulted in better gut microbiomes in the mice. The microbiome is a community of bacteria and other microbes that live within and on our bodies. The diversity and makeup of the microbiome are critical to the maintenance of a variety of health functions.
Lee says she wasn’t shocked to read the statistics because she knows seaweeds are healthful. However, this is the first scientific proof for the health advantages of Connecticut-grown sugar kelp, so it’s still really fantastic data.
This is the first time researchers have investigated the relationship between sugar kelp produced in the United States and obesity.
According to Park, there has never been any research on this topic. Park and Lee recognized an opening to do the study on the nutritional science of seaweed, a burgeoning agricultural business in the United States, and they seized it. They thought that by accumulating actual evidence on the health advantages of sugar kelp, they would be able to persuade people to eat seaweed.
Consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated, according to Lee. The nutritional element is critical to the success of Connecticut’s seaweed business.
The researchers selected Connecticut-grown sugar kelp especially since Connecticut oversees the safety of seaweeds. This is critical for monitoring heavy metals absorbed by seaweed from the ocean.
The majority of seaweed consumed in the United States is imported. Park and Lee believe that more study on the benefits of locally farmed seaweed would encourage customers to support the sector in the United States.
According to Lee, it is a worldwide industry that is always developing. Following the completion of this pre-clinical trial, the researchers want to go into clinical studies to examine the potential advantages of sugar kelp for additional health issues. They also intend to reach out to individuals in order to teach them how to include sugar kelp into their diet.
This study is the result of a productive partnership between scientists, farmers, and the state. Farmers must be aware that what they are doing is beneficial in order to increase sales, according to Park. They have the potential to be a partner.
Park and Lee want to strengthen relationships with Connecticut seaweed producers by working with Anoushka Concepcion, an extension educator with the Connecticut Sea Grant and UConn Extension Program.