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Weight of evidence behind seaweed-enriched bread

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Issued:20/03/12

New evidence has emerged from Sheffield Hallam University that Seagreens® seaweed can be used as an acceptable alternative to salt in bread and contribute to weight loss and management.

An appetite study by the Centre for Food Innovation found that participants who ate bread enriched with the company's Ascophyllum nodosum were found to be less hungry and consume fewer calories than when they ate a normal 'control' bread in an identical test a week later.

Researchers say that the reduced energy intake caused by eating seaweed-enriched bread may be helpful in weight management.

The study, supported by the Seaweed Health Foundation, tested the effect of the seaweed-enriched bread eaten at breakfast time on energy intake at lunch time in 12 overweight, but otherwise healthy males. 

Over the course of the morning, blood glucose and blood cholesterol were measured, along with ratings of hunger and fullness.

At lunch time, participants were provided with a meal consisting of pasta and a tomato-based sauce, and researchers weighed how much they ate.

After consuming the seaweed enriched bread, participants consumed significantly less energy (178kcal) at lunch time, than when they consumed the control bread.  A daily energy deficit of ~100kcal may help prevent weight gain.

Energy intake was also reduced over the following 24 hours but there were no significant differences in blood glucose or blood cholesterol at any time point suggesting that the seaweed acted as a bulking agent, increasing gastric stretch to a greater extent than the control bread.

Anna Hall, who led the study, said that the results are a positive contribution to the evidence surrounding seaweed and health.  

She said: "This study shows that in the short term, consumption of this bread reduces energy intake, which in the long term may contribute to weight loss or weight management. We hope to undertake long-term trials, which are needed in order to potentially produce such results."

Anna won the Alpro Foundation Award for Masters in the UK for her thesis about food and nutrition and its impact on health, the environment or the economy. 

Results from this study suggested that seaweed presents an attractive option for food manufacturers by aiming to maximise the health-giving potential of their dietary fibre rich products.

Dr Craig Rose from The Seaweed Foundation, added: "Seaweed for food and health is a rapidly emerging trend, with multiple benefits from a sustainable and underutilised resource."

The Centre for Food Innovation at Sheffield Hallam has been at the forefront of research into using seaweed as a replacement for salt, working closely with Seagreens and the British Seaweed Foundation.

For press information contact: Laurie Harvey on 0114 225 2621 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk