Population growth combined with increasingly limited resources of arable land and fresh water has resulted in a need for alternative protein sources. Macroalgae (seaweed) and microalgae are examples of under-exploited “crops”. Algae do not compete with traditional food crops for space and resources. This review details the characteristics of commonly consumed algae, as well as their potential for use as a protein source based on their protein quality, amino acid composition, and digestibility. Protein extraction methods applied to algae to date, including enzymatic hydrolysis, physical processes, and chemical extraction and novel methods such as ultrasound-assisted extraction, pulsed electric field, and microwave-assisted extraction are discussed. Moreover, existing protein enrichment methods used in the dairy industry and the potential of these methods to generate high value ingredients from algae, such as bioactive peptides and functional ingredients are discussed. Applications of algae in human nutrition, animal feed, and aquaculture are examined.
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