A recent study by a team for UK scientists has found that seaweed can reduce fat uptake by up to 75 per cent.
The researchers, led by Dr Iain Brownlee and Professor Jeff Pearson, are now experimenting to see whether the dietary fibre found in a seaweed which is used commercially on a wide scale could potentially be added to edible products such as bread in order to create foods that help people lose weight as they eat them.
It was discovered that alginate, a natural fibre in sea kelp, prevents the body from absorbing fat more efficiently than many existing anti-obesity treatments. The team tested over 60 different natural fibres, with the use of an artificial gut, and measured the level of fat that was absorbed and digested with each one.
Presenting the findings to the American Chemical Society, Brownlee said, ‘The aim of this study was to put these products to the test and our initial findings are that alginates significantly reduce fat digestion. This suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily, such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts, up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body. We have already added the alginate to bread and initial taste tests have been extremely encouraging. Now the next step is to carry out clinical trials to find out how effective they are when eaten as part of a normal diet’.
He continued; ‘There are countless claims about miracle cures for weight loss but only a few cases offer any sound scientific evidence to back up these claims. Obesity is an ever-growing problem and many people find it difficult to stick to diet and exercise plans in order to lose weight. Alginates not only have great potential for weight management – adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fibre content.’