Twenty-two tropical seaweeds from the Rhodophyta, Phaeophyta and Chlorophyta were examined for their possible use as nutritional supplements. All seaweeds contained balanced Na/K and C/N ratio and high amounts of macroelements (Na, K, Ca, and Mg) as compared to the terrestrial vegetables. Among the microelements, Fe was the highest followed by Zn, Mn, Cu and other trace elements. Fatty acid distribution showed high level of n-6 and n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and their ratios were within the WHO prescribed limits. The higher ratios of PUFA/SFA (>0. 4) are in agreement with the recommendations of nutritional guidelines. Most of the species, especially the Chlorophyta and Phaeophyta, had permissible intake values of unsaturation, atherogenic and thrombogenic indexes comparable to milk-based products. Principal component analysis demonstrated a correlation between total phenolic content, total antioxidant activity, DPPH, and O2•- radical scavenging activity, suggesting polyphenols as the chief contributor to the antioxidant activity in seaweeds. These results indicate that these seaweeds could be a potential source of natural antioxidants, minerals and high-quality PUFAs and may be efficiently used as ingredients in functional foods.
- Antioxidant potential
- Tropical seaweeds