Seaweed as a Low-Cost Protein Alternative

October 19, 2012

Irish researchers are identifying novel ingredients from protein-rich seaweeds.

Dulse (Palmaria palmata), laver (Porphyra), and other protein-rich seaweeds could serve as a viable protein source for future food manufacturing.

That’s according to the Marine Functional Foods Research Initiative (NutraMara), an offshoot of Ireland’s Teagasc Food Research Center. NutraMara’s mission is to identify functional ingredients from sustainable Irish marine sources, and help food and drug companies formulate with these ingredients. Several seaweed species are under investigation, and NutraMara says they could offer low-cost, highly nutritional alternatives to soy and other protein crops.

For example, dulse is 9 to 25% protein by weight and reportedly contains sufficient levels of amino acids leucine, valine, and methionine. And NutraMara researchers say they’ve just discovered a renin-inhibitory peptide in dulse, which could be beneficial in the management of high blood pressure. No other seaweed has been found to contain this peptide, says the organization.

“It is also possible that protein isolated from P. palmata as part of this study could be used for technical purposes in food manufacture, for example in the manufacture of reduced fat products,” said Teagasc researcher Maria Hayes, PhD.