What are algae proteins? | bygora.com

Algae Proteins

Algae is an integral part of our food chain and is found throughout various ecosystems. Algae is nutritionally dense, offering vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and has attracted attention in recent years for its use as an alternative protein source. Today we are going to look further into the different types of algae proteins and their use as novel proteins for animal feed.

What are algae proteins? | Types of algae proteins | Algae proteins production

Algae proteins application | Algae proteins as novel proteins for animal feed

algae proteins

What are algae proteins?

Algae is a protein-rich species and is considered an alternative and sustainable source of protein. With millions of species to choose from, companies are beginning to use algae as a protein source for both humans and animals. Certain types of algae, such as green or blue-green, consist of between 40 to 60 % protein and offer good amino acid quality and nutritional benefits. As algae are quick to grow and easy to cultivate, it’s now being considered as a potential protein option by many companies. After their extraction, these high protein algae sources can be used for a wide variety of applications.

Types of Algae Proteins

Algae proteins are generally split into two categories; microalgae and macroalgae. The main difference between these two types is the number of cells in the algae, with microalgae consisting of a single cell. Below we will detail these two types of algae proteins, and offer some algae protein examples that you may be familiar with.

Microalgae

Microalgae are unicellular organisms, meaning they consist of a single cell, and the most common examples of this type of algae are spirulina and chlorella. All of this type of algae are found in freshwater and marine environments. Chlorella protein and spirulina protein are often sold for food and as novel proteins for animal feed, thanks to their naturally protein-rich composition. Spirulina, a biomass of cyanobacteria, is a popular superfood often used within smoothies and other health-conscious recipes. It’s renowned for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and offers high levels of protein in spirulina servings. Chlorella is a green algae with a single cell, of which there are about thirteen different species. It offers many benefits to anyone who consumes it, including potentially lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Macroalgae

Macroalgae, better known as seaweed, is a form of marine algae that is usually visible to the human eye. Seaweed has been consumed for years as part of Asian cuisine and has now been identified as a solution for feeding animals. Macro refers to the larger species, and these types of algae have multiple cells and are rich in protein. Macroalgae can be found in a variety of colours, including green, brown, blue and red. They are seen as a promising and sustainable option for animal feed and offer a good protein source. Macroalgae is one of the major sources of food for fish and other creatures in the ocean.

Algae proteins production

One of the benefits of this form of protein is that it does not take up land for algae protein production, and can be grown in aquatic environments, such as ponds which are quality controlled. It’s a sustainable protein source, especially compared to traditional animal protein sources that significantly contribute to climate change. The algae proteins, both seaweed and microalgae, are extracted from the algae by various acidic, alkaline, and aqueous processes. Following this, there are multiple rounds of centrifugation, and then further rounds of ultrafiltration or precipitation to create the algae protein content. While this is the conventional production method, there are other alternatives that have been tested, including ultrasound extraction, electrical fields, and microwave-assisted withdrawal. These algae proteins can then be used for human and animal nutrition, as well as aquaculture.

algae proteins

Algae proteins application

Algae proteins are used within human nutrition, animal feed, and aquaculture. As protein is an essential part of any human’s diet, algae can be a reliable source of protein for anyone who requires higher than average protein consumption, such as athletes. It can be a good alternative for anyone who is unable to eat dairy or eggs as part of their diet. As seaweed and microalgae offer a rich source of amino acids, they are an excellent addition to anyone’s healthy diet. In Asian cuisine and other indigenous populations, macroalgae have been used for many years. Both macroalgae and microalgae are also now available in pills and powder form and have been incorporated into products such as bread, drinks, and candy.

As well as using algae proteins for animal feed, microalgae are critical for the reproduction of some aquaculture species, such as mollusks. As well as offering a source of food, they can stabilize pH levels, reduce bacteria, and increase the chance of reproduction. This results in much higher survival levels than with man-made diets. There are also further uses for algae protein sources within industrial settings, such as the use of extracted lectins and phycobiliproteins. Algae are also used in the production of biofuel, although at the current time it is too expensive to be commercially available. It has great advantages in comparison to petroleum fuel, including using less land and high oil content.

Algae proteins as novel proteins for animal feed

The high protein levels found in algae proteins make it an ideal novel protein source for animal feed. Currently, around 30% of algae production is used for animal feed. Spirulina is particularly popular for supplementing animal feed, thanks to its nutritional benefits and the amount of protein in spirulina. Algae proteins can be offered to a wide variety of animals, including farm animals and pets. Seaweed, chlorella and spirulina protein content can be added into the diet of various animals, such as pigs, cows, sheep, chickens, and rabbits. Consumption of algae proteins by poultry, in particular, has been heavily researched, in the hopes of commercial profit as a result of this novel protein source.

It has been noted that algae proteins can improve animals’ immune systems, reduce cholesterol levels, and increase white blood cells. Algae also offers a good source of omega 3 for any animal who consumes it through feed. Spirulina protein has been heavily researched within poultry feed and has benefits for the production of eggs for consumers. For pigs, algae protein has been used to replace soy proteins in the animal feed, and spirulina, in particular, has been a popular addition to their diet. For weight gain, brown seaweed has been effective when consumed by pigs, and it can also increase the iodine levels in their muscles.

There are many benefits of using algae proteins as novel proteins for animal feed. They are a sustainable option, which offers many environmental and health benefits. The high protein levels in both microalgae and macroalgae make this an ideal choice to supplement the diet of both animals and humans. The algae protein market will only continue to expand in the future as they become more widely available.

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