Microalgae have a long history of use as foods and for the production of food ingredients. There is also increasing world movement in their exploitation as sources of bioactive compounds for use in functional foods and nutraceuticals. Authorisations of novel foods and novel food ingredients are regulated differently from country to country.
A functional food is similar in appearance to, or may be, a conventional food that is consumed as part of a usual diet, and is demonstrated to have physiological benefits and/or reduce the risk of a disease beyond basic nutritional functions. Microalgae might be used as functional food whenever the microalgae is ingested as a whole-cell as it contains the bioactive compounds.
A nutraceutical is a product purified from food which is generally sold in medicinal forms not usually associated with foods. The majority of the microalgae derived products sold as nutraceuticals are usually marketed as tablets, capsules, or liquid extracts. A nutraceutical is demonstrated to have a physiological benefit or provide protection against disease.
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|Nutraceutical||Functional Food||Functional Food|
|Whole-cell||Chlorella||Super food. Detox capacity|
|Whole-cell||Spirulina||Super food. Detox capacity|
|Alpha-carotene / Beta-carotene||Dunaliella||Neutralise free radicals, which may cause cell damage|
|Lutein||Green Microalgae||Reduces the risk of macular degeneration|
|Reduces the risk of prostate cancer|
|Omega-3 fatty acids DHA||Isochrysis, Odontella,
|Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Improve mental, visual functions|
|Omega-3 fatty acids EPA||Nannochloropsis Tetraselmis||Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease. Improve mental, visual functions|
|Astaxanthin||Haematococcus||Strong anti-oxidant activity|
Decrease insulin and blood glucose levels