Edible seaweeds have been consumed by Asian coastal communities since ancient times. Fucus vesiculosus and Ascophyllum nodosum extracts have been traditionally used for the treatment of obesity and several gastrointestinal diseases. We evaluated the ability of extracts obtained from these algae to inhibit the digestive enzymes α-amylase and α-glucosidase in vitro, and control postprandial plasma glucose levels in a mouse model of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH); a liver disease often preceding the development of Type 2 diabetes (T2DM). This model was obtained by the administration of a high-fat diet. Our results demonstrate that these algae only delayed and reduced the peak of blood glucose (p < 0.05) in mice fed with normal diet, without changing the area under the blood glucose curve (AUC). In the model of NASH, the phytocomplex was able to reduce both the postprandial glycaemic peak, and the AUC. The administration of the extract in a diet particularly rich in fat is associated with a delay in carbohydrate digestion, but also with a decrease in its assimilation. In conclusion, our results indicate that this algal extract may be useful in the control of carbohydrate digestion and absorption. This effect may be therapeutically exploited to prevent the transition of NASH to T2DM.
Keywords: Ascophyllum nodosum; Fucus vesiculosus; nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; postprandial blood glucose level.