Evaluation of marine algae Undaria pinnatifida and Porphyra purpurea as a food supplement: composition, nutritional value and effect of intake on intestinal, hepatic and renal enzyme activities in rats


Correspondence to: Cristina Taboada, Department of Physiology, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Santiago de Compostela, E-15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain. E-mail: mariacristina.taboada@usc.es



There is a long tradition in Eastern countries of consuming seaweeds, although demand for these organisms has also increased in Western countries. However, knowledge of the effects of consumption of algae is limited. In this study the proximate composition and amino acid profile of Undaria pinnatifida (Harvey) Suringar (wakame) and Porphyra purpurea (Olivi) De Toni (nori) were determined. The effects of feeding diets containing 100 g kg−1 of wakami or nori for 4 weeks on food intake, growth, protein efficiency ratio, diet conversion ratio and some organ weights in growing rats were evaluated. The effects on intestinal, hepatic and renal enzyme activities were also studied.


Both algae are a good source of protein, particularly nori, and contain essential amino acids. There was no effect of alga consumption on trophic balance. Intestinal disaccharidase and hepatic and renal γ-glutamyl transpeptidase activities were lower in alga-fed rats than in the control group, while intestinal leucine aminopeptidase activity was higher in rats fed algae.


Both seaweeds are a good source of protein and carbohydrates and contain all essential amino acids. The effects of the two algae on enzyme activities were similar. The inhibition of intestinal disaccharidase activity by seaweed ingestion could be interesting in patients with altered glucose homeostasis. © 2013 Society of Chemical Industry