Laminaria japonica as a Food for the Prevention of Obesity and Diabetes

Miyuki Shirosaki and Tomoyuki Koyama1

Contents I. Introduction 200

II. Antiobesity Effects 200

A. Obesity 200

B. Antiobesity effects of seaweeds 201

III. Antidiabetic Effects 205

A. Diabetes 205

B. Antidiabetic effects of seaweeds 205

IV. Conclusions 210 Acknowledgments 210 References 210

Abstract Various seaweeds have traditionally been used as flavoring materials, food additives, and foodstuffs in many countries, especially those in Asia. The seaweed Laminaria japĆ³nica (LJ) is popular as "kombu" in Japanese cuisine. Laminaria sp. is one of the most important marine medicinal foodstuffs, as its biological functions have been widely investigated in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. This chapter introduces recent reports on the ability of Laminaria to prevent obesity and diabetes, and some approaches for effectively using the bioactivities found in Laminaria. The inhibitory effects of Laminaria sp. on triglyceride absorption were investigated in triglyceride-loaded mice and in mice with high-fat-diet-induced obesity. Shaved Laminaria, known as "tororokombu," showed more effective activities in

Graduate School of Marine Science and Technology, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan

1 Corresponding author: Tomoyuki Koyama, E-mail address: [email protected]

these experiments. The active component was considered to be alginic acid in the water-soluble fraction. On the other hand, the antihyperglycemic effects of a hot water extract of immature Laminaria were investigated in carbohydrate-loaded mice and in in vitro experiments using Caco-2 cells. The potential usefulness of Laminaria sp. as marine medicinal foods may be increased through the use of different processing methods and/or growth stages. These reports suggest that LJ may be useful for preventing lifestyle-related diseases.

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