The dried seaweed Ulva lactuca — derived from the waters of Pameungpeuk in Java — is said to have prospects for human nutrition.
Ulva lactuca has been consumed by Pameungpeuk's coastal communities for many years, but a researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences sought to detail its nutritional composition, with the intention of determining its possible uses.
A sample of the seaweed was procured from Pameungpeuk waters and thoroughly washed and cleaned, first with seawater and then with distilled water.
After this, it was air-dried in the sun for five days before being ground in a blender. The powdered samples were then kept in a dark container at room temperature to be analysed for ash, moisture, protein, dietary fibre, fat, carbohydrates (proximate analysis), vitamins and minerals.
The sample was found to be high in carbohydrates (58.1%), dietary fibre (28.4%), moisture (16.9%) and protein (13.6%). It was also shown to contain vitamins A, B1 (thiamine) and B2 (riboflavin).
In terms of its mineral content, calcium was the main component (1,828mg/100g), significantly higher than potassium (467mg/100g), sodium (364mg/100g), iron (14mg/100g) and phosphorus (0.05mg/100g).
Its high dietary fibre content also led the researcher to state that Ulva lactuca could be considered an alternative source of dietary fibre that is high in protein but low in fat (0.19%).
Another important consideration was its moisture level. Moisture content is vital to determining the shelf-life and quality of processed seaweed, since high moisture may "hasten the growth of microorganisms", thereby shortening shelf-life.
However, Ulva lactuca's moisture content was relatively low when compared with other seaweed species sold commercially in Indonesia, such as Eucheuma sp. (32%), Gracilaria sp. (25%), Turbinaria sp. (20%) and Sargassum sp. (20%).
It was also observed to be low in heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, arsenic and lead, which were present in amounts that fell below the maximum levels permitted, as per the limits set by the National Standardization Agency of Indonesia.
As such, the study concluded that Ulva lactuca "may be considered to be developed as an alternative source of a healthy food for human in the future".
Source: Tropical Life Sciences Research
"Evaluation of Nutritional Composition of The Dried Seaweed Ulva lactuca from Pameungpeuk Waters, Indonesia"
Author: Abdullah Rasyid