01 Sep The Benefits Of Seaweed
Seaweed isn’t just for sushi anymore, as seaweed and other sea plants are growing in popularity because they’re sustainable to cultivate, harvest, and use in a wide range of food products. The popularity of sea plants has tripled in Europe in recent years and will be coming to US shelves this year in new forms such as tea, cooking oil, dry seasoning, noodles, and ice cream. Low in fat but high in fiber, omega-3 and phytonutrients, this is one I’m excited to see diversify and grow.
It seems that anything is possible with this emerging category, including microalgae and seaweed, which will continue to add to this growing array of plant-based options. And as studies have shown, sea plants can also be a much more sustainable way to source important, health-supporting nutrients that might be challenging to source in a plant-based diet.
8 Facts about Seaweed
1. Most of the world’s oxygen (about 70%) comes from seaweeds and other microscopic algae.
2. It is estimated that there are nine times more microscopic algae and seaweeds in the oceans than there are plants on land.
3. Together with microscopic algae called phytoplankton, seaweeds (macroscopic algae) are responsible for all primary production in the oceans and, therefore, form the basis of the food chain in the oceans.
4. Seaweeds are amongst the fastest growing organisms on the planet. For example, under optimal conditions, the giant kelp Macrocystis pyrifera, can grow nearly a metre (three foot) a day – attaining lengths in excess of 50m.
5. Strictly speaking, seaweeds are not plants. Only green seaweeds are considered plants as they have given rise to land plants. However, like plants, most algae and seaweeds depend on sunlight to create energy through photosynthesis.
6. Seaweeds assimilate minerals directly from the sea and are thought to be the single most nutritious foods that you can eat. Rich in trace elements and vitamins, many of them frequently contain more protein than meat and more calcium than milk.
7. For instance, green seaweeds are rich in carotenoids (an antioxidant, age-defying substances) and beta carotene derived from green seaweeds is used as a yellow-orange food colorant in cheese, coffee creamers, egg substitute, margarine, mayonnaise, multivitamins and salad dressings.
8. The word seaweed is so commonly used, yet to refer to these marine algae as ‘weeds’ is very far from the truth. Although we often cannot smell or taste them, many ingredients in our foods and household products come from the sea and from seaweeds.