In a few Southeast Asian nations, seaweeds have been a staple of the cuisine since prehistoric times. Seaweeds are currently becoming more and more popular around the world due to their superior nutritional value and medicinal properties. This is because of rising seaweed production on a global scale and substantial research on their composition and bioactivities over the past 20 years. By reviewing several articles in the literature, this review aimed to provide comprehensive information about the primary and secondary metabolites and various classes of bioactive compounds, such as polysaccharides, polyphenols, proteins, and essential fatty acids, along with their bioactivities, in a single article. This review also highlights the potential of seaweeds in the development of nutraceuticals, with a particular focus on their ability to enhance human health and overall well-being. In addition, we discuss the challenges and potential opportunities associated with the advancement of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals derived from seaweeds, as well as their incorporation into different industrial sectors. Furthermore, we find that many bioactive constituents found in seaweeds have demonstrated potential in terms of different therapeutic attributes, including antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and other properties. In conclusion, seaweed-based bioactive compounds have a huge potential to play an important role in the food, nutraceutical, and pharmaceutical sectors. However, future research should pay more attention to developing efficient techniques for the extraction and purification of compounds as well as their toxicity analysis, clinical efficacy, mode of action, and interactions with regular diets.
Keywords: biologically active compounds; food additives; functional foods; nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals; polysaccharides; seaweeds; secondary metabolites.