Scientists Study Protective Effects of Red Algae

Red algae studied and region of Chile from which they were collected.

Many experts suggest that algae (seaweeds) are a natural and healthy plant-based food and supplement ingredient. In recent times, there has also been wide interest in the functional properties of seaweeds and their application as bioactive components as both ingredients and additives that improve the conservation of foods.

Among the typical functional ingredients being investigated for their applications are antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavonoids, florotannins, carotenoids, etc., as well as immune protectants such as b-glucans, oligosaccharides, dietary fiber, lignans, peptides, and more.

Seaweeds also provide essential nutrients such as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAS) and vitamins (folic acid and ascorbic acid, retinol), and components related to sensory and gastronomic aspects that supply the umami flavor. Therefore, ingredients derived from algae may be a safe alternative to replace artificial food additives.

Recently, research regarding the use of red, green, and brown algae extracts has shown that the different bioactive antioxidant components are effective in preserving fish and shellfish. In addition, it has been observed that phenolic extracts from red algae inhibit the development of different pathogenic bacterial strains and the toxic products generated by their proteolytic activity. These include biogenic amines which stand out because of their risk to human health.

Salmon is a fish of high nutritional richness due to its content in PUFAS, carotenoids, minerals, and vitamins, and is in high demand by consumers. However, the high PUFAS content makes it extremely susceptible to deterioration by oxidation even when refrigerated, frozen, cooked, or dried. The presence of oxygen, metals, microbial contamination, and other manipulations including temperature, are direct factors that catalyze the oxidative process of polyunsaturated lipids. Therefore, it is necessary to search for natural antioxidants capable of inhibiting oxidation and the consequent loss of essential components.

Given the many unknowns about the potential of chemical, bacteriostatic and food preservation properties of these algae species, the objective of this work was to develop a preliminary chemical study of the inhibitory power of phenolic extracts against lipid oxidation of salmon paste subjected to a cooking heat treatment. In addition, the ability of phenolic extracts to inhibit the development of different pathogenic bacterial strains was determined.

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