The growing interest in laver as a food product and as a source of substances beneficial to health has led to global consumer demand for laver produced in a limited area of northeastern Asia. Here we review research into the benefits of laver consumption and discuss future perspectives on the improvement of laver product quality. Variation in nutritional/functional values among product types (raw and processed (dried, roasted, or seasoned) laver) makes product-specific nutritional analysis a prerequisite for accurate prediction of health benefits. The effects of drying, roasting, and seasoning on the contents of both beneficial and harmful substances highlight the importance of managing laver processing conditions. Most research into health benefits has focused on substances present at high concentrations in laver (porphyran, Vitamin B12, taurine), with assessment of the expected effects of laver consumption. Mitigation of chemical/microbiological risks and the adoption of novel technologies to exploit under-reported biochemical characteristics of lavers are suggested as key strategies for the further improvement of laver product quality. Comprehensive analysis of the literature regarding laver as a food product and as a source of biomedical compounds highlights the possibilities and challenges for application of laver products.
Keywords: chemical risk; edible seaweed; functional substance; health functionality; microbial risk; nutritional value; omics-based technology; processed laver product; processing technology; raw laver.