Characterization of protein, lipid and mineral contents in common Norwegian seaweeds and evaluation of their potential as food and feed

J Sci Food Agric. 2014 Dec;94(15):3281-90. doi: 10.1002/jsfa.6681. Epub 2014 May 6.


Background: The objectives of this study were to examine protein and amino acid composition, lipid and fatty acid composition, along with a range of essential minerals in common Norwegian seaweed species representing the red (Palmaria palmata and Vertebrata lanosa), green (Cladophora rupestris, Enteromorpha intestinalis and Ulva lactuca) and brown (Alaria esculenta, Laminaria digitata, Laminaria hyperborea, Fucus vesiculosus and Pelvetia canaliculata) classes and assess their potential as alternatives to cereals in food and feed. As macroalgae accumulate heavy metals, arsenic, cadmium and mercury were also analyzed.

Results: Proteins ranged from 34 to 123 g kg(-1) dry weight (DW) and the essential amino acid levels may cover both human and salmonid requirements. Lipids were low (6-58 g kg(-1) DW), but the red algae had high relative content of long-chained omega-3 fatty acids (32-34 % of the fatty acids). Iodine contents were particularly high in the Laminaria species. Of the heavy metals only arsenic levels may be of concern.

Conclusion: In total, the red alga P. palmata was regarded as the best alternative to cereals in food and feed. For several of the other species, single-component extraction for the ingredients market may be better than using the whole product.

Keywords: characterization; iodine; lipids; macroalgae; protein; selenium.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / analysis
  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Arsenic / analysis
  • Edible Grain
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / analysis
  • Food*
  • Fucus / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Iodine / analysis
  • Laminaria / chemistry
  • Lipids / analysis*
  • Metals, Heavy / analysis
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Norway
  • Proteins / analysis*
  • Rhodophyta / chemistry
  • Seaweed / chemistry*
  • Ulva / chemistry


  • Amino Acids
  • Fatty Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Lipids
  • Metals, Heavy
  • Minerals
  • Proteins
  • Iodine
  • Arsenic