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Abalone - The Emperor of the Seashells

Abalone – The Emperor of the Seashells

Marine-derived nutrients have been used for thousands of years. Abalone has recently gained popularity due to its potential as a medicinal marvel with its wide range of uses. As newer research into the health benefits of Abalone pour in, it is only right that the demand for this nutrient-rich mollusc grows at an astounding rate.

What is Abalone?

Abalone, is a common name for any group of small to very large edible sea snails, marine gastropod molluscs that belong to the family Haliotidae. Abalone is a safe marine organism used as a food source with numerous nutraceutical and therapeutic benefits.

They are distinct from other species of marine molluscs in having a single flattened shell which places them in the genus ‘haliotis’, which means ‘sea ear’ owing to its peculiar shape.

It is variously known as ear shells, sea ears, muttonfish or mutton shell in Australia, ormer in Great Britain, and pāua in New Zealand. Due to its various health benefits, it has been called “the emperor of the seashells,” “mother of shellfish,” or more interestingly “ginseng in the ocean”.

The flesh of abalone has been used worldwide as an exotic food due to its portended health benefits. They vary in size, the largest one is about 12 inches long while the smallest is about 20 millimetres. Abalone is considered as a functional food because it aids specific functions for promoting health benefits.

What is the Source of Abalone?

Abalone is found in coastal waters of every continent with the exception of Pacific coast of South America, the East Coast of the United States, and the Polar regions. Abalone is mostly found in cold waters, off the coasts of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Western North America, and Japan.

NutriNZ’s Abalone is sourced from the clean waters of New Zealand’s South Island.

What are the Health Benefits of NutriNZ Abalone?

Abalone has been regarded as a rich source of highly absorbable nutrients ranging from important trace minerals, vitamins, Omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates and proteins.

This naturally rich source of nutrients has been in use since time immemorial for its portended health benefits, such as:

  • Abalone meat provides nourishment to the body due to its nutrient-rich content.
  • It also boosts the detoxifying capacity of the liver by supporting metabolic functions. Most detox diets integrate abalone as one of their ingredients.
  • Abalone is rich in Omega-3 and Omega-9 fatty acids which are potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidants. These promote a healthy circulation and a healthy heart.
  • The rich content of glycosaminoglycans (GAG) in Abalone meat provides for healthy joints and connective tissues. It improves joint pain and mobility of the joints, therefore preventing arthritis.
  • Antioxidants such as Vitamin A, Vitamin E and Selenium are contained in Abalone which negate the ill effects of eating non-fresh, processed foods which can cause oxidative damage. The antioxidant effects of Abalone also prevent liver dysfunction due to excessive alcohol consumption.
  • It has been used as an aphrodisiac to enhance sexual energy and vitality since ancient times.
  • The immune system is given a boost because of its antibody-generating capacity.
  • Vision and eyesight improves with Abalone due to the presence of Vitamin A and other trace elements that support vision.
  • Abalone is considered as a naturally-derived anti-bacterial against penicillin-resistant organisms.

What are the Active Ingredients in Abalone?

Polysaccharides or their derivatives: These are abundantly available in abalone meat and perform various cellular functions such as signal transduction, metabolic pathways and killing of tumour cells. Chitosan, derived by chemical deacetylation has health-promoting properties such as antioxidant, wound healing, antibacterial, and anticoagulant. Sulphated polysaccharide conjugates isolated from abalone have antioxidant activities such as scavenging or hydroxyl radical and metal-chelating activities.

Carotenoids: These are a group of phytochemicals that have protective effects against cancer, oxidative stress, and cardiovascular diseases and include alpha and beta-carotene, lutein, fucoxanthin, neofucoxanthin and other carotenoids. Fucoxanthin, a carotenoid, is able to reduce obesity by inhibiting intestinal lipase activity.

Natural anticoagulant molecules: Abalone displays anticoagulant properties through a glycosaminoglycan-like sulphated polysaccharide containing galactosamine, glucuronic acid, fucose, and galactose with 15.5% sulphated content and shows significant increase in Prothrombin Time (PT).

Anticancer molecules: Macromolecules such as abalone polysaccharide, proteins and peptides derived from Abalone extract possess antitumor properties by inducing cell death and necrosis. Abalone proteoglycan also significantly inhibits tumour growth.

Anti-microbial and immune-modulatory molecules: Crude fresh Abalone juice has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Two polysaccharides namely AVPI and AVPII derived from Abalone stimulate white blood cell proliferation, phagocytosis of macrophage, and natural killer cell activity in a dose-dependent manner.

Cosmeceutical molecules: Abalone contains high amounts of collagen, chondroitin sulphate, amino acids, and minerals needed for skin regeneration.

Antihypertensive effect and memory building is enhanced by various active ingredients of Abalone.

Are there any Risks or Side-effects with Abalone use?

Abalone is not recommended for people allergic to shellfish and during pregnancy or lactation.

Those with shellfish allergy are prone to anaphylactic reactions and should avoid Abalone or its derivatives.

Supporting Products


Larsen, R., Eilertsen, K.E., Elvevoll, E.O. 2011. Health Benefits of marine foods and ingredients. Biotechnol Adv 29:508-518

Kim, Se-Kwon. 2013. Marine Nutraceuticals: Prospects and Perspectives. CRC Press, Taylor and Francis Group

Rajasekaran, A., Sivagnanam, G., Xavier, R. 2008. Neutraceuticals as therapeutic agents: A review. Res J Phar Technol 1:328-340