Margarita Casas Valdez

Margarita Casas Valdez is the team leader for the seaweed research project.

Latin American Herald Tribune reports that in the northwestern Mexican state of Baja California Sur, seaweed has become a healthy and nutritious alternative for people and animals, thanks to the efforts of researchers at the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) in Mexico City.

A team at the IPN Marine Sciences Interdisciplinary Center in Baja is working at the Macroalgae Laboratory in Mexico City to incorporate seaweed — a food rich in minerals, carbohydrates, fiber, essential amino acids, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, beta-carotenes and vitamin — into products such as pastas, pies and crackers.

“We have approximately 1,200 species of seaweed across all of Mexico’s coasts, but the Baja California peninsula is special because we have the greatest abundance of seaweed in that region,” Margarita Casas Valdez, the team leader and member of the National System of Researchers (SNI), a Mexican government agency, said.

“We obtain products of high commercial value from seaweed such as alginates and agar, a gelatin-like product used for human nutrition and to make pharmaceutical products and culture media, as well as feed for cattle, laying hens and broiler chickens and shrimp,” she said.

Dr. Casas Valdez says consumption of seaweed helps reduce levels of lipids (fats), cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, as well as abdominal obesity, and that its omega-3 and -6 fatty acids also support brain growth and visual development during early fetal development.