10 Reasons to Put Seaweed on Your Plate
Little known to Westerners, seaweed has been cooked for thousands of years by Asians and consumed as regularly as pasta… Their nutritional virtues are exceptional: putting them on the menu is, therefore, a real asset to health!
There are different varieties of algae:
- the brown algae: like wakame, kombu, sea beans, or fucus.
- the red algae: like dulse or nori, consumed in the form of leaves. Having a very pronounced taste, it is like that of Chinese smoked tea.
- green algae: like sea lettuce or Salicornia.
- the micro-algae: like spirulina
In the US and Europe, seaweed is mainly consumed via sushi bars and Asian restaurants, especially in the form of makis, miso soup, and wakame salad.
2. Spirulina, the alga that has all good properties
Spirulina is an alga that has existed for more than 3 billion years and belongs to the family of cyanobacteria or microalgae blue-green. 36 spirulina species are edible. The main one currently on the market is called Spirulina Platensis.
In stores, spirulina is generally in the form of a dehydrated blue-green powder, in bulk or capsules.
Low in calories, it contains a mine of nutrients in a very small volume of which 55% to 70% of proteins.
3. Their nutritional virtues
Boasting all the virtues of saltwater (and for some of the freshwater), algae are rich in minerals (calcium, phosphorus), vitamins (A, C, E, and B12), and trace elements ( iodine, iron). They fight against cardiovascular diseases and stimulate immunity.
They are also rich in fiber and protein (spirulina and nori) which promotes digestion.
4. A slimming ally
At an average of 43 calories per 100 g or the equivalent of 100 g of carrots, the seaweed is an essential slimming ally to vary the usual steam vegetables during a classic diet.
It brings a fancy element to the plate, and thus, avoids blandness while containing only a small amount of fat (fat).
Also, its high fiber content increases the feeling of satiety and reduces cravings.
5. Beyond the plate
The virtues of seaweed are not only found on the plate. Currently, a vaccine based on algae is being studied to strengthen the immune system of chickens reared in a battery, which would reduce the administration of antibiotics en masse, antibiotics that we, thereafter, ingest by consuming the chicken’s meat.
Tests already carried out on 500 000 poultry seem promising and could open other perspectives for the research of the fight against cancer.
6. Already on the menu
Some foods that we consume almost daily already contain seaweed without us knowing it.
This is the case, for example, with agar-agar, an additive used to thicken the culinary preparations, and comparable to gelatin, but without animal matter. It is found in cakes, especially organic, candies and deli meats.
For people who do not eat pork, agar is an interesting alternative to gelatin. In terms of health, it promotes the digestion and drainage of toxins.
7. Are they all edible?
There are many varieties of algae (100,000 in total), both in freshwater and seawater, but not all can be consumed.
145 seaweeds are currently open for consumption around the world, particularly in Asian countries. The Japanese consume 2 million per year against 1,500 tons for the Europeans and Americans.
In Europe, 24 varieties of algae are allowed including 8 brown algae 11 red algae, 2 green algae, and 3 micro-algae. They are mostly harvested in England, at a rate of 80,000 tons per year.
8. How to consume them and where to find them
Algae can be consumed in many ways. In a traditionally Asian menu, they will be found in makis, temaki, wakame seaweed salads, and miso soup… However, they are also suitable for more traditional dishes, to whose seasoning they add a subtle flavor: in soups, simmered, in papillotes, in broths, pasta or rice, salads…
Regarding how they are stored – they can be dried or frozen.
Still relatively rare in supermarkets, except nori leaves, thanks to the population of sushi, they are found in Asian stores and organic grocery stores.
9. A new way of feeding
Slowly, mentalities evolve about diet. We do not just eat what’s on our plate.
There are more and more questions about the methods of production, slaughter (for animals), and harvesting. In the coming decades, our food way of life is likely to change significantly in favor of plants and algae are part of it.
Beyond these questions, the Earth will have more than 9 billion people (and mouths) to feed in 2050… The resources of the plants mentioned today seem the best able to fulfill this mission…
10. An inexhaustible resource?
Algae appear to be the new source of food to preserve the environment while having a plate full of benefits.
The sea is indeed full of seaweed and, therefore, appears as an inexhaustible resource. However, they also suffer the effects of pollution, especially with oil spills and heavy metal contamination, as evidenced by some fish that contain large amounts of heavy metals in their bodies and are, therefore, harmful to their health.