Compounds in seaweed seem to reduce the severity of allergic reactions.

By Gillie Houston
Updated May 24, 2017

Food allergies range from inconvenient to life-threatening, but a simple solution could be lingering under the sea. A new report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry claims that one variety of seaweed could help counteract food allergies. About 8 percent of children and 5 percent of adults have a life threatening food allergy, according to a 2014 Mount Sinai Hospital study, and hoards more exhibit intolerances to different edible items.

Now, scientists have found that one form of seaweed—healthy snackers' favorite form of edible algae—contains molecules that could have anti-allergic and anti-asthmatic effects. While previous research has hinted at seaweed's possible allergy-fighting powers, a group of researchers lead by scientist Guang-Ming Liu set out to test whether Gracilaria lemaneiformis—or as it's also known, red algae—contains polysaccharides, molecules that can help fight off the hives, wheezing and dizziness that can result from allergen attacks.

The scientists isolated these polysaccharides from the algae and fed them to a group of mice that were allergic to shellfish. Another group of allergic mice wasn't given the molecules. When the mice ate shellfish, the group treated with the polysaccharides had milder allergy symptoms.

Liu and his team are hopeful that these positive results will lead to a better understanding of food allergies and how to prevent them in the future. And for now, it's probably a good idea to start snacking on the green stuff. Bonus points if it's the kind that tastes like bacon.

And if you're wondering how to pack more seaweed into your diet, check out these awesome allergy-combatting recipes.