Results of a recent UK study suggest that seaweed fibers may one day be capable of helping people fight obesity.
In the study, a team of Newcastle University researchers used an artificial gut to test the effectiveness of more than 60 different natural fibers by measuring the amount of fat that was digested and absorbed with each alternative treatment.
Lead investigators Iain Brownlee and Jeff Pearson found that alginate—a natural fiber found in sea kelp—was able to reduce fat intake by approximately 75 percent, which is more competitive than the majority of over-the-counter anti-obesity treatments.
"This suggests that if we can add the natural fiber to products commonly eaten daily—such as bread, biscuits and yogurts—up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body," said Brownlee.
The next step for the research team is to conduct clinical trials to see how effective alginate is when eaten as part of a normal diet. In addition to weight management, adding seaweed to food has been proven to boost fiber content and overall digestive health.