Sea Cucumber?! It’s a Thing, and It’s Just as Healthy As You’re Hoping.
by Kiki Athanas
January 18, 2020
Months back I discovered possibly the coolest thing ever at the CHFA East: Sea Cucumber. It's not cucumber, but it does come from the sea...and it's a game-changer when it comes to mega-dosing on antioxidants (and who wouldn't want that?!). I connected with the researches behind Sante 4 Life to get the scoop, and the following is a guest post they shared with me (& you - you're welcome!) so that we can be in the know of the next best thing to hit the supplement aisle - direct from the oceans!
What is Sea Cucumber
Sea cucumber has been used as luxury food and traditional folk medicine in China, Japan and other parts of East Asia since ancient times. It is also now being heavily researched in Western Universities due to its nutritional and therapeutic properties. Originally, the sea cucumber fishery was limited to a few species in Pacific, but recently the exploitation of sea cucumbers has spread to many new regions in response to increased demand. Several species exist in the North Atlantic and adjacent seas, and only one species, Cucumaria frondosais, are targeted in the current fishery. The Atlantic sea cucumber, C. frondosais, are small and thin-walled relative to other sea cucumber species. They can reach 50 cm in length when fully grown, and have cylindrical shape with a leathery dark brownish skin covered with five rows of retractile tube feet. The sea cucumbers have ten branched oral tentacles ranging in colour from orange to black, so they are often called orange-footed sea cucumber.
The Origin of Sea Cucumber
They are settled at intertidal-to-300 meters (most commonly 30-60m) and widely distributed in the North Atlantic and Arctic Ocean. They are usually found in many ocean bottom types such as bedrock, boulder, gravelly and sandy habitats.
Atlantic sea cucumbers were first harvested in Maine in 1988, but it was not until 1994 that the fishery began in earnest. Currently the total annual catch capacity in Canada is 13000 tons, and Atlantic Sea Cucumber Ltd accounts for about 34%.
The Potent Health Benefits of This Ocean Food
Sea cucumbers have an impressive profile of valuable nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and a large number of unique biological and pharmacological active compounds including triterpene glycosides (saponins), chondroitin sulfates, glycosaminoglycan (GAGs), sulfated polysaccharides, sterols (glycosides and sulfates), phenolics, lectins, peptides and lipids including eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Many reports summarized that these high-valued components have administered various bioactivities namely anti-coagulant, anti-cancer, anti-hypertension, anti-thrombotic, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-stimulant activities. These health benefits lead sea cucumber to serve as potential sources of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic agents, thus providing a new platform in biochemical research. Some researchers found the contents of triterpene glycosides, total amino acids, drug-effective amino acids and delicious amino acids are higher in Atlantic Sea Cucumber (C. frondosa) than other species.
How Can You Take Sea Cucumber Yourself?!
Traditionally, dry sea cucumber takes 3 days to rehydrate and cook in for the appropriate cuisine. That’s why Sante 4 Life developed and launched Nova Sea AtlanticTMSea Cucumber capsules. They are registered as a Natural Health Product with Health Canada and have an approved claim of providing antioxidants that help fight/protect cells against the oxidative damage caused by free radicals. They recommend 1-2 grams/day (capsules per day) swallowed with water.
How To Source The Best
Not all Sea Cucumbers are created equal. The bioactive levels vary greatly between species, with less bioactives in sea cucumbers pulled from warmer waters. If you want the highest level of bioactives, you want to ensure that you are getting the Atlantic Sea Cucumber which are harvested from 30 meters down, and in frigid waters. To ensure that you are not getting a knock-off, purchase from a Canadian company that works with Canadian fisheries.
There are no reports of adverse effects from the use of sea cucumber. However, if you are taking anticoagulants or antihypertensive drugs, please consult with your doctor, as the polysaccharide and saponin may increase the effect of anticoagulant/anti-hypertensive to cause bleeding/hypotension.