Australian seaweeds have passed taste and nutrition tests in a Deakin University study that could eventually pave the way for seaweed to become a regular part of our national diet.
The results of the crowd-funded "Would you like seaweed with that?" research project under a Pozible Research My World partnership show Australian seaweeds tested positively from both nutritional and taste perspectives.
Project coordinator and Marine Biologist at Deakin's Centre for Integrative Ecology, Dr Alecia Bellgrove, said the research group had plenty of new questions to answer as a result of the project, but early indications were exciting.
Several seaweed species collected from south-west Victorian beaches were put to the taste test in Warrnambool last year in miso soup and seaweed salads. They were also compared to Japanese seaweed species," Dr Bellgrove said.
She said the Australian species used in the soup rated highly in both nutrition and taste.
"There was no difference between Australian and Japanese species in the soup but there was a preference for the Japanese species in the salad due to differences in texture," she said.
While the results are positive and show Australians could develop a liking for seaweed, Dr Bellgrove said it could be some years before it became a regular part of the national diet.
"Some of the seaweed species are important habitat forming species and we need to understand the impact of putting them into commercial aquaculture or sustainable wild harvesting," she said.
"The first step is to see if they taste good and suit the Australian palate and that is looking very positive."
Dr Bellgrove said seaweed was healthy and an important part of the diets of Asian cultures but was not often consumed in Australia and other western countries.
Seaweeds are high in protein, dietary fibre, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids and a suite of vitamins, minerals, fucoxanthins and antioxidants. Regular consumption of seaweeds can significantly reduce obesity and associated illnesses.
"There is compelling evidence from both health and sustainability literature that seaweeds should become a common part of global diets," Dr Bellgrove said.
"Seaweeds are incredibly nutritious and can significantly reduce obesity and associated illnesses. Regular consumption of seaweeds has the potential to enhance the health of societies now, and for generations to come."
The research was a collaboration between Deakin University's Centre for Integrative Ecology, Centre for Chemistry and Biotechnology and Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research.
The research results will be revealed 4-5pm at B3.03 at the Deakin University Warrnambool Campus, Tuesday 14 October and video-linked to ia1.006 LT1 - Peter Thwaites Lecture Theatre at Geelong Waurn Ponds Campus and LT 5 B3.07 at Burwood Campus.