(DGIwire) – Everyone has a rough idea of what algae are—but few may appreciate their true versatility. Here, courtesy of the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, a division of the US Department of Energy, are three cool insights about this fascinating form of plant life:
- Algae is ubiquitous: There are thousands of different kinds of algae that grow in a variety of colors and forms. They can be found everywhere on the planet—even on snow and ice. Some types have a high photosynthetic rate ideal for bioproducts.
- Algae is hardy: Algae only require a few essentials to grow: water, sunlight, carbon, and nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. From salt water to fresh water, there are strains that can take advantage of nearly any water resource.
- Algae has potential in foods and beverages: In the nutrition industry, algae have already been used to create non-animal-based fish oil replacements. Meanwhile, other companies are expanding its uses as a way to enhance a healthy diet.
“An algae culture can be produced—and its nutritive components can be extracted— for use in foods and beverages that support human health,” says Andrew Dahl, President and CEO of ZIVO Bioscience, a biotech/agtech R&D company engaged in the commercialization of nutritional and medicinal products derived from proprietary algal strains. “Studies have suggested there are substantial benefits from incorporating algae-based products into dietary supplements, foods and beverages.”
For example, ZIVO’s proprietary algal culture extracts have shown to be beneficial in supporting a healthy cholesterol balance and immune response, along with other studies to assess additional benefits.
The company’s algal strain can be spray-dried, belt-dried, drum-dried or freeze-dried depending on a product’s formulation requirement, ranging from a fine powder for better mixing properties to a flaked form that looks and blends like pesto, parsley flakes or dried seaweed. Once approved for use, the algal biomass can be grown by contracted cultivators and shipped to licensed drying facilities. From there, it would be shipped to formulators, for use as a protein-enhancing food ingredient, a dietary supplement or a vegan beverage ingredient.
“In addition to a digestible protein, our algal strain also offers a very significant fiber component, as well as natural, bioavailable vitamins A and C, non-starch polysaccharides and other micronutrients,” adds Dahl. “Our biomass and extract products have much to offer across a wide range of commercial products that need a protein, fiber or natural vitamin boost with potential added health benefits. We truly believe our algae-based products will be part of a coming wave of non-GMO, antibiotic-free, pesticide/herbicide-free, non-soy, sustainably-produced foods, beverages and supplements for health-conscious consumers.”