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Salicornia: evaluating the halophytic extremophile as a food and a pharmaceutical candidate

Patel, Seema
3 Biotech 2016 v.6 no.1 pp. 104
Salicornia, antinutritional factors, diet, extremophiles, flavonoids, flora, food security, geographical distribution, halophytes, humans, marshes, nutrients, oxalates, polyphenols, risk, saponins
Food insecurity is a major issue in current scenario where a large section of mankind is at risk of insufficient diet. As food productivity has its limits, the prospecting of unutilized or underutilized flora as food candidates is collectively recognized as a sustainable option. In the past decade, a number of obscure plants have been identified to be rich in dietary components and deemed fit for integration into the food platter. This review discusses a candidate Salicornia, belonging to family Amaranthaceae. This halophyte has a broad geographical distribution, and phytochemical profiling has indicated its food relevance. An array of functional nutrients as fibers, polyphenols, and flavonoids have been detected in Salicornia. Though high salt, oxalate and saponin content in the plants are anti-nutrients, they can be removed to justify usage of Salicornia as a ‘sea vegetable’. Apart from culinary relevance, medicinal attributes like immunomodulatory, lipid-lowering, antiproliferative, osteoprotective, and hypoglycemic render this lesser-known marsh plant significant for phytochemical studies. This appraisal is expected to be useful towards further research and popularization of this extremophile halophyte.