Alginate: An All-star Weight Loss Aid

Did You Know…that a compound found in sea kelp blocks fat absorption better than anti-obesity drugs?

Who knew crunching on kelp—a brown seaweed popular in Asian cuisine—could be the answer to weight loss?   Several studies have shown that a fiber and iodine-rich compound in kelp may just give us an advantage in the battle against obesity.

Recent research suggests that this compound, called alginate, may be able to reduce fat absorption by as much as 75% and decrease fat intake by as much as a third!

Alginate May Be the Answer to Obesity 

Alginate is a popular gelling agent used to emulsify and thicken processed foods such as ice cream, yogurt, sauces, gravies, and dressings.  Researchers have been studying its potential as a nutritive food source to combat malnutrition in underdeveloped parts of the world.  They’re finding that what is good for the malnourished is also good for the overfed—and alginate may become the next all-star weight loss aid.

Newcastle University researchers set out to discover not only what types of alginate were best for weight loss, but also the degree to which alginate could burn fat and shed pounds.  Published in the journal Food Chemistry, the study featured impressive results. Alginate was found to:

Decrease fat digestion and absorption by 75%
 Reduced fat intake by 1/3, when added to bread

     The seaweeds with the highest concentration of alginate (and the most fat-burning effects) were:

  1. Tangle or Cuvie (a brown sea kelp)
  2. Bladderwrack (known as the giant gray seaweed)
  3. Bull kelp (a brown algae)


With such promising finds, researchers are now planning full clinical trials to confirm the link between alginate and weight loss.

Shrink Your Stomach with Alginate 

Alginate not only effects fat absorption, but also influences hunger signals by encouraging satiety.  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a double-blind study whose findings indicate that supplementing with alginate may increase weight loss by as much as 36%.

University of Copenhagen researchers divided 96 overweight but healthy individuals between 20 and 55 years olds into two groups.  One group supplemented with a sodium alginate drink before each meal for three months.  The other group received a placebo drink.  Those receiving the alginate mix lost an average of 15 pounds, while those taking the placebo lost an average of 11.

PhD student researcher Morten Georg Jensen explains, “A probable explanation of the weight loss is that the alginates form a gel in the stomach which strengthens the gastrointestinal satiety signals to the brain because the gel takes up space in the stomach.  The overweight subjects thus ate less than usual.”   The potential of alginate as a weight loss aid is currently being explored. Underground Health Reporter will keep you updated on the research as it unfolds!

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