Scientists say this could have nutritional or medicinal benefits

Don’t be fooled by its appearance.

Scientists publishing in PLOS One say this brown, sausage-shaped sea cucumber (Stichopus cfhorrens) could hold nutraceutical and medicinal benefits, and warrants further study.

Scfhorrens is a high value species in the Philippines and Malaysia, sold in dried and processed forms for its medicinal and nutritional properties. 

The species is among 170 reported species of sea cucumber, 41 of which are foraged by fishers and considered economically important.

Sea cucumbers in China and south-east Asian countries are regarded as a culinary delicacy and used in traditional medicines. They are usually eaten in dried form – known as bêche-de-mer or trepang.

But new research has addressed the lack of biochemical studies on Scfhorrens finding the species to be “a promising source of bioactive compounds” with potential nutritional and medicinal benefits.

Using biological and chemical analysis called ‘metabolomics’, they found the species has an abundance of bioactive compounds in the body wall and internal organs called phosphatidylcholines. 

Phosphatidylcholines are chemicals found naturally in foods like eggs, soybeans, mustard and sunflower. Some research suggests their use as an anti-inflammatory medication in patients with ulcerative colitis.

Other compounds, including phosphatidylethanolamines were also present, which the researchers say might be linked to the stress response of sea cucumbers.

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