Food: Fight allergies, the Asian way

June 14, 2016 2:37 PM (UTC+8)


Red algae snack

There seems to be a sugar “solution” from the salt waters for the new-age food allergy problem!

While reports about the increased incidence of food allergies are pouring in and startling people worldwide, here comes sweet news that a commercial variety of red algae which has long been a staple food in several Asian countries possesses certain kind of sugars that can help fight food allergies.

A 2014 estimate suggests that about eight percent of children and five percent of adults suffer from food allergies worldwide.

Guang-Ming Liu from Jimei University and colleagues isolated polysaccharides from Gracilaria lemaneiformis, an edible algae in the category of seaweed, and fed them to a group of mice sensitive to tropomyosin, a protein that is a major shellfish allergen. Allergy symptoms were reduced as a result.

Previous research has suggested that certain seaweed varieties contain polysaccharides with anti-asthmatic and anti-allergy effects. But no one, before these researchers, had investigated whether similar molecules in G. lemaneiformis, a commercial variety of red algae, might have similar properties. This apart, this low-calorie edible algae is also packed with essential nutrients.

Algae has been used in Asian cuisine since prehistoric times, as it is considered healthy and packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Seaweed has recently caught on as a snack food in America as a healthful alternative to chips.

The study has been published in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.