Sea cucumbers are marine animals of the class Holothuroidea, and they can be used as food, in fresh or dried form, in various kitchens. They are a delicacy in Chinese cuisine and are exorbitantly priced. In some cultural contexts, sea cucumbers are believed to have medicinal value. Sea cucumbers contain an interesting combination of valuable amino acids; glycine is the main component.
On the other hand, sea cucumber extracts produced by organic solvents have been found to inhibit the growth of both cell lines (A549 and C33A) to varying degrees. Suzuki et al., have compared the antithrombotic and anticoagulant activities of the depolymerized fragment (DHG) of glycosaminoglycan extracted from sea cucumber (Stichopus japonicas) (FGAG) with those of unfractionated heparin (UFH) or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH). Mamelona et al., have evaluated the total content of phenolic compounds and flavonoids and the antioxidant activity of extracts from different parts of the Atlantic sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa). The anti-cancer activity of three triterpenic glycosides, the intercedensides A, B and C, isolated from sea cucumber (Mensamaria intercedens) has been evaluated by Zou et al. According to the updated trade and harvest data available, Asia and the Pacific are the two main regions producing sea cucumbers.
Sea cucumbers provide an impressive amount of nutrients and beneficial compounds, including proteins, antioxidants and B vitamins. They are echinoderms, along with hedgehogs and starfish. It is revealed that certain chemical compounds, such as chondroitin, mucopolysaccharides and glucosamine, found in sea cucumbers, have beneficial effects on arthritis disorders. Popular Chinese belief attributes male sexual health and its aphrodisiac qualities to sea cucumber, since it physically resembles a phallus, and uses a defense mechanism similar to that of ejaculation. In this case, the isolation and production of compounds from sea cucumbers, with first-class purity, could lead to the development of functional foods.
The dried ovary of the sea cucumber, which is called konoko () or kuchiko (), is also eaten. So can humans eat sea cucumbers? The answer is yes! If you're feeling adventurous, try adding sea cucumber to your dishes instead of more traditional seafood. However, it is important to note that due to their increasing demand for human consumption, poaching has become a contagion around the world.