Nutralence — Superior, Nutritionally Dense Algae Foods
by Dr. Mark Edwards
mpty calories, while ubiquitous today, are so yesterday. Who would choose to eat foods with empty calories when they could discover foods with 100 to 300% more nutrients per bite? Algae-based foods can provide “nutralence” – high nutrient density, versus empty calories.
Who would pass up better taste, texture, aroma, color, mouth feel, and aftertaste with naturally nutralent foods? Who would choose empty calorie fossil foods that extract non-renewable resources that will deprive our children of the natural resources that our generation consumed: fertile soil, fresh water, fossil fuels and agricultural chemicals? Who would choose fossil foods that waste non-renewable resources and pollute and destroy our ecosystems?
First product wave from fermentation
Fortunately, naturally nutralent foods enter the market soon. The first wave will come from algae produced in the dark and fed sugar, using the 200-year old fermentation technology. Solazyme will sell their fermentation algae Almagine™ product line through Whole Foods and other food manufacturers and retailers. Solazyme has developed algae-based food ingredients including oils and powders that enhance the nutritional profile and functionality of food products, while reducing costs for consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies.
When used in full or as partial replacement for ingredients such as eggs, butter and vegetable oil, Almagine products offer superior health benefits, including reduced calories, saturated fat and cholesterol. They offer functional benefits such as enhanced taste and texture for low-fat formulations, while also providing lower cost handling and processing requirements than traditional lipid sources.
Second wave from photosynthesis
The next nutralence wave will use photosynthetic algae that have all the micronutrients provided by solar energy and captured by photosynthesis. Algae contain a wide spectrum of prophylactic and therapeutic factors that include vitamins, minerals, amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Algae provide the super anti-oxidants such as β-carotene XE “β-carotene”, lutein, lycopene, and selenium as well as vitamins A, B, B-complex, C, D, E, and K, and a number of unexplored bioactive compounds. These constituents stimulate numerous metabolic pathways and promote antioxidant, anti-bacterial, antiviral, anticancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic, and anti-diabetic actions. Extensive medical research shows algae constituents promote vascular, mental, and intestinal health.
Produce weight versus nutralence
Consumers want nutralent foods that have 100 to 300% higher nutrients per bite than industrial foods. Consumers abhor field produce such as tomatoes that have no taste because they suffer from nutrient dilution. Nutrient dilution occurs because farmers maximize yield weight, not food quality or nutritional density.
Most genetically engineered foods, also called Genetically Modified Organisms, GMO, increase yield weight. Unfortunately, most of the extra weight comes from water absorbed in the produce. Nutrient dilution depletes modern foods not only of nutrients but also of color, aroma, taste, texture and nutrient density. GE monocultures jeopardize our entire food supply because a single pest vector can destroy the entire crop. GE monocultures cheat consumers of nutralence, nutrient density, and diversity.
Scientists use the term “empty calories” to describe how nutrient dilution from industrial farming diminishes the nutrients in each bite. Our human bodies evolved over eons to eat nutritionally rich and diverse natural foods; not GE monocultures loaded with preservatives and chemical residues. GE crops require massive amounts agricultural chemicals and poisons because they are genetically engineered to optimize yield, not plant vitality.
GE crops are extremely vulnerable to a broad spectrum of weeds and pests. They require significantly more fertilizer and chemical poisons, some of which stays as residue in refined foods and fresh produce. Recent scientific evidence suggests that despite Monsanto’s promise of GE food safety, genetic crop manipulation causes changes in human body chemistry.
Wise consumers with sufficient wealth buy fresh organic farmers’ market produce because it tastes better, avoids pesticides and has slightly more nutralence than industrially-farmed produce. Organic consumers will quickly embrace naturally nutralent foods because they already know the value proposition. When consumers understand that their nutralent food choices can significantly enhance their personal and family’s health, naturally nutrient foods will be compelling immediately.
Empty calories from industrial foods have created a global obesity and diabetes epidemic. Industrial produce maximizes yield, (weight) rather than nutrition. Consequently farmers add more macro fertilizers to plump up the weight, which is mostly water. Therefore, consumers get less nutrients per bite.
The Centers for Disease Control reported recently that one of three of our children born after the year 2000 would develop diabetes. A 2011 study shows that over 34% of our children are obese and over 20% have high blood pressure. Nutralent foods can solve this epidemic. Algae-based “functional foods” can prevent the onset of obesity and diabetes and moderate the symptoms for many diabetics.
Succulence, the natural ability of succulent plants to absorb and hold water gives the plants such a competitive advantage that succulents are found globally. Succulents and other land plants evolved from algae at the cost of nutrient absorption.
Land plants can absorb only those nutrients within reach of their roots when conditions are good. Soil moisture must be present, the root structure (plumbing) must be in good working order, and the nutrients must be broken down, typically by algae and other microorganisms, before they can be taken into the plant. Too much salt, acidity or lack of humus can spell death for plants. Roots lock each plant to one location, where the plant becomes completely dependent on soil quality and nutrient availability.
Nutralence in algae
Algae demonstrate “nutralence,” as the biomass concentrates nutrients at substantially higher levels than land plants. Algae avoid the uptake problem by living without roots. Field tests with produce over two years demonstrated that algae used as a nutrient delivery system increase nutralence, macro and micronutrient density 100 to 300%.
Micronutrients include calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), boron (B), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), chloride (Cl), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn). Industrial farmers typically skip adding micronutrients when they fertilize fields because typical fertilizers mix in only macronutrients, N, P and K. Micronutrients give produce their color, texture and taste. Industrial produce typically suffers from “hidden hunger,” from micronutrient deficiencies.
Algae have substantially more surface area to absorb nutrients than land plants. Algae’s nutralence shows in comparison to common produce. One tablespoon, 10 grams of algae, delivers the same amount of:
- Calcium as 8 tbs milk, 32 tbs soybeans, 8 carrots, or 22 tomatoes.
- Magnesium as 40 tbs milk, 8 tbs soybeans, 9 carrots, or 6 tomatoes.
- Iron as 512 tbs milk, 8 tbs soybeans, 11 carrots, or 5 tomatoes.
Field studies show that algae deliver nutralence for other vitamins and minerals are consistently 100 to 300% higher per bite than typical field crop produce.
Algae are also an excellent plant source of glutamic acid, an amino acid that promotes intestinal health and immune function. Each kilogram of algae biomass has roughly double the protein available from a kilogram of a food grain. Algae concentrate many other nutrients at a multiple of the nutrients found in grains.
Algae growers have access to splendid natural diversity that enables them to grow biomass of 30 to 70% protein, depending on their target food, feed, fertilizer or coproduct. Growers that want to maximize lipids (oils) may select a species that contains 40% lipids. Other growers may want to maximize production of carbohydrates, pigments, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, cosmetics, medicines, vaccines or many other valuable coproducts.
Naturally nutralent foods are available today in the form of sea vegetables, microalgae powders and dried seaweed. Naturally nutralent foods can be found at health food and Asian food stores today. These new foods are being introduced by Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Sunflower, Kroger, Costco, and specialty markets.
Soon, nearly all food categories will offer functional foods with higher nutralence than traditional foods. The entrepreneurial opportunities in the natural nutralence food category is poised to become the hottest niche in food marketing. Most consumers look forward to the opportunity to choose healthier foods that offer superior nutralence and sensory appeal.
Adapted from: Abundance: Sustainable Fossil-free Foods with superior Nutrition and Taste; less Pollution and Waste, Mark Edwards, winner of “2011 Best Environment Book.”