Initially used extensively as an additive and ingredient in the food industry, alginate has become an important compound for a wide range of industries and applications, such as the medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetics sectors. In the food industry, alginate has been used to coat fruits and vegetables, as a microbial and viral protection product, and as a gelling, thickening, stabilizing or emulsifying agent. Its biocompatibility, biodegradability, nontoxicity and the possibility of it being used in quantum satis doses prompted scientists to explore new properties for alginate usage. Thus, the use of alginate has been expanded so as to be directed towards the pharmaceutical and biomedical industries, where studies have shown that it can be used successfully as biomaterial for wound, hydrogel, and aerogel dressings, among others. Furthermore, the ability to encapsulate natural substances has led to the possibility of using alginate as a drug coating and drug delivery agent, including the encapsulation of probiotics. This is important considering the fact that, until recently, encapsulation and coating agents used in the pharmaceutical industry were limited to the use of lactose, a potentially allergenic agent or gelatin. Obtained at a relatively low cost from marine brown algae, this hydrocolloid can also be used as a potential tool in the management of diabetes, not only as an insulin delivery agent but also due to its ability to improve insulin resistance, attenuate chronic inflammation and decrease oxidative stress. In addition, alginate has been recognized as a potential weight loss treatment, as alginate supplementation has been used as an adjunct treatment to energy restriction, to enhance satiety and improve weight loss in obese individuals. Thus, alginate holds the promise of an effective product used in the food industry as well as in the management of metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity. This review highlights recent research advances on the characteristics of alginate and brings to the forefront the beneficial aspects of using alginate, from the food industry to the biomedical field.