Researchers at Tel Aviv University and the Israel Limnological and Oceanographic Research Institute in Haifa have developed an innovative technology that enables the growth of “enriched seaweed” infused with nutrients, protein, dietary fiber and minerals for human and animal needs. .
According to the researchers, the cutting-edge technology significantly increases the growth rate, protein levels, healthy carbohydrates and minerals in the seaweed tissues, making “enriched seaweed” a natural superfood with a extremely high nutritional value, which can be used in the future for the health food industry and to ensure an unlimited source of food.
The research was led by Ph.D. student Doron Ashkenazi, under the direction of Prof. Avigdor Abelson of the Tel Aviv University School of Zoology, George S. Wise School of Life Sciences, and Prof. Alvaro Israel of the Tel Aviv Institute of Oceanographic and Limnological Research Israel (IOLR) in Tel Shikmona, Haifa. The article was published in the scientific journal Innovative food science and emerging technologies.
Doron Ashkenazi explains that in the study, local species of algae ulva, Gracilaria Y hypnea were grown in close proximity to fish farming systems under different environmental conditions. The special conditions allowed the algae to flourish and allowed for a significant improvement in its nutritional value to the point of becoming “enriched algae”, which is a superfood. (The use of seaweed as a rich food source that meets all human nutritional needs is even reminiscent of the Bible manna who fed the Israelites in the desert). It will also be possible to use the enriched seaweeds in an applied way for other health industries, for example as nutritional supplements or as a medicine, as well as in the cosmetics industry.
“Algae can be considered a natural superfood, more abundant in the necessary components of the human diet than other food sources,” adds Ashkenazi. “Through the technological approach that we developed, a farm owner or entrepreneur will be able to plan in advance a production line for algae rich in the substances that interest them, which can be used as healthy foods or nutritional supplements; for example seaweed with a particularly high level of protein, seaweed rich in minerals such as iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium and zinc, or in special pigments or antioxidants. Enriched seaweed can be used to help populations suffering from malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies, for example, disadvantaged populations around the world, as well as supplements for a vegetarian or vegan diet.
Also, unlike land-based agriculture, aquaculture, and in particular our proposed seaweed farming approach, does not require extensive land, fresh water, or large amounts of fertilizer. It is environmentally friendly and preserves nature and the ecological balance by reducing environmental risks. In fact, the new methodology offers an ideal situation of sustainable and clean agriculture. Today, integrated aquaculture is beginning to receive support from governments around the world for its environmental benefits, including reduced nutrient loads to coastal waters and reduced gas emissions and carbon footprints. In this way, it contributes to combating the climate crisis and global warming.
Doron Ashkenazi concludes: “Technologies of this type are, without a doubt, a model for a better future for humanity, a future where humans live in idyll and health in their environment.” The research was conducted in collaboration with other leading researchers from across the country, including Guy Paz and Dr. Yael Segal of the Israel Institute of Oceanographic and Limnological Research (IOLR) in Haifa, Dr. Shoshana Ben-Valid, an expert in chemistry Dr. Merav Nadav Tsubery from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Exact Sciences, Bar-Ilan University, and Dr. Eitan Salomon from the National Mariculture Center in Eilat.
Materials provided by Tel-Aviv University. Note: content can be edited for style and length.