Blog: Secret seaweed

Catherine Sleep | 27 September 2005

You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink, as the saying goes. Similarly, you can offer consumers all the healthy food in the world, but you can’t make them buy it. Or can you?

Just as parents sometimes disguise vegetables in their kids’ food to lure them into eating them despite their best intentions, scientists in Newcastle have found a way to make fastfood healthier by adding a high-fibre seaweed extract called alginate. The alginate has been found to strengthen the mucus lining the gut wall. It can inhibit digestion and slow the uptake of nutrients in the body, reported Sky News.

I like eating seaweed, although I have to admit I enjoy it most when it’s fried to a crisp as a side dish with a Chinese meal, which undoubtedly negates any health benefit it might provide. I imagine food manufacturers will make sure the extra ingredient doesn’t change the flavour, for those consumers who don’t like to be reminded they’re eating something healthy.

Nutrition by stealth, then. Is it the way forward?

ADDENDUM: I am reliably informed by a colleague who knows about such things that 'seaweed' in Chinese restaurants is generally, in fact, nothing of the kind. It's usually spring greens - hence the inverted commas. Oh well.

Seaweed part of solution to obesity


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