Here we review the physiological effects of the calcium salt of alginate (Ca-Alg), focusing on our own work. First, we found that Ca-Alg promotes the excretion and decreases the absorption of various metals, and does so more effectively than sodium alginate (Na-Alg). Ca-Alg also reduced plasma cholesterol (Cho) in rats fed a high-Cho diet for 2 weeks. This was considered to be due to reduced intestinal reabsorption of bile acid, resulting from the binding of Ca-Alg and bile acid; this induces an increase of bile acid synthesis from Cho in the liver, leading to a decrease in Cho in plasma. The increase of blood triglyceride (TG) levels in rats fed a high-fat diet for 5 weeks was significantly suppressed by Ca-Alg, leading to decreased fat accumulation in the liver and whole body. Ca-Alg in food was also effective in suppressing the postprandial increase of blood glucose level in rats and humans. An in vitro study suggested that Ca-Alg inhibits the interaction between α-glucosidase and its substrate maltose. In conclusion, Ca-Alg has a number of beneficial effects as a functional food ingredient, and is expected to be a safe and effective food additive for long-term use.
Part of the book: Alginates