Marine environment possesses a diverse cluster of plants and animals of biomedical, pharmacological, and nutritional importance. The exploration and exploitation of marine micro- and macroorganisms toward various health benefits are increasing day by day via the fundamental and biotechnological approaches. One of such organisms of marine habitat are the algae, which have been proved to possess tremendous health benefits from ancient times. In fact, the terms ''seaweeds'' or "sea-vegetables" are used interchangeably for the large and visible macroalgae, whereas microalgae have been recognized as the microscopic producers of some highly bioactive compounds of chemical and pharmacological diversity. Moreover, microalgae are considered as the actual producers of biomedical substances found in marine resources.

Algae can provide sustainable and affordable food and fuel, as well as ecological and novel solutions. Any food, fibers, or materials that can be achieved from land-based crops can be made from algae because land plants evolved from algae 500 million years ago (Edwards, 2010). Seaweeds are majorly consumed in the oriental countries, such as Japan, China, and Korea, and nowadays, in the United States and Europe (NAAS, 2003). The earliest recorded use of seaweeds dates back to 2700 BC in ''Chinese Herbs'' compiled by the Emperor Shen Nung. Humans are dependent on micro- and macroalgae, which have been utilized for hundreds of years as food, fodder, medicine, cosmetics, etc., and hence, consumption of algae is recommended for best health and medicinal prospects worldwide. A market-based survey at Arizona State University found that nearly 70% of medicinal and cosmetic products commonly depend on algal components. Most people do not consume algae directly as food but enjoy the products made from algal components that include algal flour in lieu of wheat, corn, or soy flour; algal oils that are healthier and less fattening than corn oil; and algal nutrients such as o-3 fatty acids, etc. Several species of macroalgae, belonging to Rhodophyceae (red), Phaeophyceae (brown), and Chlorophyceae (green algae), are also used as foods and food ingredients/components in Asian, Pacific, Canadian, and Icelandic traditions (Yuan, 2008).

Photoprotection is a group of mechanisms that nature has developed to minimize the damages that an organism encounters, when exposed to UV radiation (UVR). These mechanisms can be controlled or organized by certain organic and inorganic compounds or substances (e.g., melanin)

produced by different terrestrial and aquatic sources. A number of photo-protective compounds such as scytonemins (exclusively in cyanobac-teria), mycosporines (in fungi), mycosporine-like amino acids (MAAs; in cyanobacteria, algae, and animals), phenyl propanoids and flavonoids (in higher plants), melanins (in humans and other animals and even some bacteria), and several other UV-absorbing substances of unknown chemical structures from different organisms have been developed to counteract the photodamage. Besides the nutritional value, many algal species that are commonly exposed to elevated solar radiation synthesize and accumulate high concentrations of UV-absorbing compounds (Rastogi et al., 2010). This principle of photoprotection has been taken into consideration by the researchers to develop and isolate various photoprotecting and antiaging compounds /formulations from marine algae, and basing the fundamentals of photoprotective consequences by these macro- and microalgal species, certain species of algae are well recommended as various foods and nutritional supplements. Although majority of research is pending with regard to the identification of certain algal species of photoprotective importance, ancient people have used a variety of these organisms in their regular diet and noticed the medicinal value of them; for example, previous reports show that seaweeds have been a part of the Japanese diet since 300 BC. It was reported earlier that more than 10 million algal species presumed to exist all over the world and around 90% of all their bioactive and therapeutic compounds remain to be discovered (Edwards, 2010; Singleton, 2011).

In spite of possessing photoprotecting principle, algae are believed to have iodine, which is responsible for low rates of goiters in areas where algae are consumed frequently. In addition, the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) notes that the protein and vitamin combination in algae may help decrease fatigue.

Was this article helpful?

0 0
Food Fanatic

Food Fanatic

Get All The Support And Guidance You Need To Be A Success At A Food Business. This Book Is One Of The Most Valuable Resources In The World When It Comes To Turning Your Love For Cooking Into A Money Maker.

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment