Algae for Functional Food and Beverage
Global demand for macroalgal and microalgal foods and beverages are growing at a rapid pace annually, and algae are increasingly being consumed for functional benefits beyond the traditional application of capsule and tablet. There is a growing interest in algae derivatives as additives in food and beverage to gain the nutritional benefits algae affords. These Algae derivatives span a wide range of culinary and cultural considerations, from professional sports drinks and smoothies to vegan cuisine, a dressing for your salad or a tasty dessert. As awareness of the benefits of algae grow so will new uses for it in functional food and beverage. It could easily be said that the possibilities in this sector are endless.
Algae has been gaining significant traction as a food ingredient. The world is seeing ever-increasing interest in algae-based ingredients as the consumer demand for healthful yet satisfying food continues to grow. Algae-based food ingredients can help improve the nutritional profile of many common foods, while enhancing taste and texture
In order to keep up with growing demand for algae based food products, there are three algae-based food ingredients that have proven optimally functional for a number of food products sold across the aisles at the local grocery store: algae lipid powder, whole algae protein, and algae oils.
Algae Lipid Powder
Algae-based lipid powder can help to provide food companies with an ingredient to boost healthier nutrition profiles, while still making delicious, indulgent-tasting food products. Rich in lipids, this powder can therefore replace fats, oil, and egg yolks, while enhancing the nutrition profiles of products in applications such as breads, cakes, crackers, and cookies.
Whole Algae Protein
Whole algae protein is a unique combination of a protein that contains all the essential amino acids, is highly digestible and does not interact with other ingredients in a formulation.
When using this in formulations, the protein and other nutrients are completely protected within the microalgae cell wall. This protection means that it has limited interaction with other ingredients, and so can be used to increase protein in a broad range of food products, including cereals, sauces, snacks, bars, beverages, dressings and bakery products, without compromising on taste or texture.
When it comes to oils made from algae, many people are surprised to learn that algae is the world’s original oil producer. Algae oils offer a neutral flavour, which allows for unlimited formulation ability to help food companies create nutritionally and functionally optimal food products.
Algae oils can exist as a high-stability oil with a low polyunsaturated fat content, and low levels of saturated fat, and zero trans-fat. With low polyunsaturated fat levels, the oil offers exceptional oxidative stability, with a longer fry-life. This oil can help replace partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs) in products like mayonnaise and potato chips, following the trans-fat ban from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It can also offer a clean label solution, removing preservatives such as ethylene diamine tetra acetic acid (EDTA), in mayonnaises and dressings.
Algae in Desserts
Algae is so versatile in the food and beverage industry that there are not many areas where it could not be used. Even for those with a sweet tooth algae has made an entrance. Algae has been used for centuries in Asia as a sweet Jelly (Agar Agar) treat. Agar Agar is a great alternative for vegan or vegetarian lifestyles. In the west its not uncomon to find a delicious algae smoothie or even algae icecream.
Algae for Sports
Another fast growing market and new delivery method for benefiting from all that algae has to offer is in sport’s drinks and sports gel's. Functional water products and whole algae infused gel sachets are a great way to partake.
The recovery benefits of algae are sensational
The recovery benefits of algae sensational:
They’ll Speed Your Exercise Recovery. After tough training sessions, your muscles are left riddled with microscopic tears; tears that, when healed, will make you stronger, bigger, and faster. Algae contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that help make that recovery process happen.
They’ll Make You Stronger. You’ll still have to pump some iron to score those 20-inch biceps you’ve been vying for, but algae may help things along. Besides decreasing muscle breakdown, algae can increase protein synthesis—the process in which your muscles transform the protein you eat into the protein in your biceps. For instance, in a 2011 study of healthy men and women, Washington University researchers found that omega 3s increased the subjects’ muscle-building response to insulin and amino acids, both of which are released in the body during exercise.
They’ll Make DOMS a Thing of the Past. Another benefit of omega 3s’ inflammation-fighting ways is its ability to reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) You know, the ache that leaves you limping for two days after you hit the squat rack. In one Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine study, omega 3 supplementation markedly reduced men’s levels of perceived pain and their range of motion 48 hours post exercise.
They’ll Boost Your Reaction Time. The human brain is nearly 60 percent fat, so it’s no shocker that omega 3 fatty acids help the heap of wrinkly fat do its thing. The fatty acids have been shown to improve cognitive functioning, and play a critical role in both visual processing and signaling. Meanwhile, they are vital components of nerve endings, neurons, and muscle membranes, For instance, in one Journal of Sports Medicine study, soccer players dramatically improved their reaction time with just four weeks of fish oil (DHA and EPA) supplementation.
They’ll Reduce Your Risk of Overuse Injuries. Apart from speeding exercise recovery, omega 3s fend off workout-ending injuries by preventing tissue degradation, easing inflammation, boosting blood and oxygen flow to muscles, increasing range of motion, and relieving joint tenderness.
They’ll Make Your Muscles Work Better. By helping signals get from one cell to another ASAP, the omega 3s in your body’s nerve endings, neurons, and muscle membranes direct your body’s overall neuromuscular function. In a 2015 Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition study of male athletes, supplementation with a DHA and EPA led to greater increases in neuromuscular function (they increased thigh function by 20 percent!), and far less muscle fatigue.
They’ll Keep You Light on Your Feet. Omega 3 fatty acids can help you burn any excess fat weighing down your athletic gains. Researchers found that daily omega 3 supplementation significantly decreased adults’ fat mass in just six weeks. This is because having adequate levels of omega 3s allows your body to better burn fat for energy while exercising. It also means you don’t burn as much muscle when exercising.
They’ll Make Your Workouts Feel Easier. Part of omega 3s’ heart-health benefit is that they decrease heart rate and the amount of oxygen your body burns through every minute. It means that, during every minute of exercise, your body needs less oxygen than does your competitor. This means it takes less energy to run a marathon, kick a goal, or make a tackle.
They’ll Keep Your Bones from Snapping. If you’re into contact sports like football, soccer, or rugby, broken bones are a real concern. Omega 3s work to prevent brittle bones. Researchers believe the fatty acids may increase your body’s level of calcium absorption and mediate bone growth.
They’ll Fight Exercise-Induced Asthma. By reducing inflammation, omega 3s can make a big difference in the life of asthma sufferers. For instance, in a 2013 Respiratory Medicine study, omega 3 supplementation drastically improved lung function and reduced airway inflammation in people who regularly suffer exercise-induced bronchoconstriction (aka exercise - induced asthma.)