Algae milk: The latest fad or a healthy vegan alternative?
Mooove over milk substitutes because there is about to be another new kid on the block. At this year’s Natural Products Expo West, renewable oils and bio-products company, Solazyme (SZYM) introduced its latest food product, algae milk. Algae milk is free of dairy, soy, lactose, and nuts and is made using Solazyme’s whole algal flour. An ideal choice for vegans and those with allergies.
What is unique about this product is that the flour that the “milk” is made from has a very different content then the flour you normally think of. What it actually contains is powdered, heart-healthy oil with a profile similar to olive oil, along with protein and dietary fiber.
While the closest many Westerns come to algae is when they chomp into a sushi roll, the many varieties of algae are one of those foods that top the charts when it comes to nutrient density. Sea vegetables offer one of the broadest ranges of minerals of any food, are an excellent source of the B vitamins, vitamins A and C, and are very low in calories. But how much of this nutrition is in 8 ounces of this new algae milk is unclear. It seems to contain about half of its calories in the form of protein, 20% fiber, and about 10% healthy fats.
Consumers aside, manufacturers have been using different components of algae in food applications for years. Carrageenan is a stabilizing and gelling agent in foods like instant puddings, agar is a substitute for gelatin, and alginates thicken water-products.
There are numerous studies on the benefits of algae in terms of chronic disease prevention and improved digestion, so if the milk contains the valuable nutrients that make algae unique, then it would appear to be a great addition to anyone’s diet, vegan or not.