Sea Cucumber for functional foods?

Deep Sea Diamond News   •   March 27, 2019

Sea cucumbers are marine invertebrates that have gained popularity among researchers in recent decades, not only due to their nutritive value, but also due to their potential health benefits and therapeutic uses. Extensive literature survey revealed that sea cucumber has a long history as a traditional food and folk medicine. Most of the sea cucumber uses have been validated through scientific and ethnopharmacological research. A myriad of bioactive, isolated from sea cucumber such as chondroitin sulfate, triterpene glycosides (saponins), lectins, heparin, cerebrosides, gangliosides, bioactive peptides, sterols and omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, have shown multiple biological activities such as anti-angiogenic, anticancer, anticoagulant, anti-hypertension, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antioxidant, antithrombotic and antitumor. Overall, we concluded that sea cucumber can be explored as a potential source of high-value components for functional foods and the nutraceutical industry. There is a great potential to utilize sea cucumbers to develop valuable functional foods with physiological benefits for human beings. The current review emphasizes that this underutilized resource contains a wide array of functional bioactive that can be isolated and purified to act as ingredients of functional foods and nutraceuticals.

  • In recent decades, the concept of functional foods has offered a new and practical approach to achieving optimal health by promoting the use of natural products with physiological benefits thus reducing the risk of various chronic diseases.
  • Although there are many cultured and harvestable sea cucumber species, around 20 species are reported with relatively high economic and food value. Sea cucumbers, usually processed into a dried product know as “bêche-de-mer”, are valued as important seafood, particularly in Asian countries. Commercially, the product “bêche-de-mer” can be graded into low, medium or high economic value depending upon several aspects such as species, appearance, abundance, color, odor, thickness of the body wall, and market trends and demands [23]. They are widely consumed by people in China, Japan and South Asia [70].
  • During the past three to four decades many efforts have been devoted to isolating numerous biologically active novel compounds from marine sources. Many of such naturally occurring compounds are of great interest for potential drug development as well as an ingredient of new leads and commercially successful products for various industrial applications, especially, pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, functional foods and nutraceuticals [4]. Sea cucumbers are one of the potential marine animals with high food and medicinal value. The medicinal properties of these animals have ascribed to the presence of functional components with promising multiple biological activities.