Algae as nutritional and functional food sources: revisiting our understanding

Mark L. Wells, Philippe Potin, James S. Craigie, John A. Raven, Sabeeha S. Merchant, Katherine E. Helliwell, Alison G. Smith, Mary Ellen Camire, Susan H. Brawley (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

924 Citations (Scopus)
420 Downloads (Pure)


Global demand for macroalgal and microalgal foods is growing, and algae are increasingly being consumed for functional benefits beyond the traditional considerations of nutrition and health. There is substantial evidence for the health benefits of algal-derived food products, but there remain considerable challenges in quantifying these benefits, as well as possible adverse effects. First, there is a limited understanding of nutritional composition across algal species, geographical regions, and seasons, all of which can substantially affect their dietary value. The second issue is quantifying which fractions of algal foods are bioavailable to humans, and which factors influence how food constituents are released, ranging from food preparation through genetic differentiation in the gut microbiome. Third is understanding how algal nutritional and functional constituents interact in human metabolism. Superimposed considerations are the effects of harvesting, storage, and food processing techniques that can dramatically influence the potential nutritive value of algal-derived foods. We highlight this rapidly advancing area of algal science with a particular focus on the key research required to assess better the health benefits of an alga or algal product. There are rich opportunities for phycologists in this emerging field, requiring exciting new experimental and collaborative approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-982
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Issue number2
Early online date21 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • Journal article
  • Algal foods
  • Antioxidants
  • Arsenosugars
  • xperimental design
  • Microalgal supplements
  • Nutritional minerals
  • Omega-3-fatty acids
  • Polysaccharides
  • Sea vegetables
  • Vitamins


Dive into the research topics of 'Algae as nutritional and functional food sources: revisiting our understanding'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this