Seaweed: a new tool in the fight against obesity?

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A natural fiber found in seaweed may reduce the body’s fat absorption by as much as 75%, according to findings presented this past weekend at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco. As part of a three-year research project funded by the U.K.’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council researchers Iain Brownlee and Jeff Pearson from the University of Newcastle tested the impact of 60 different types of fiber on the digestion and absorption of fats. They found that alginate, a form of fiber found in sea kelp, reduced fat absorption by 75% when tested in an artificial gut. These preliminary findings suggest that seaweed—or more specifically alginates—may hold a key to helping reduce obesity rates, the researchers say. What’s more, according to initial taste tests of bread with added alginate, Brownlee says, adding a little extra fat-busting fiber may actually produce some delectable results.