Is seaweed good for you? Seaweed as food! I’m a fan! And in this blog, I’ll tell you why. There are many reasons to treasure the greens of the ocean, for you, and a healthy sea.
Over the years I’ve been exploring, harvesting, and testing plants of the sea as food. Driven by curiosity. I came across so much of it during freediving, beach walks, and even during sailing passages. I was wondering which seaweed you can eat, how to eat seaweed, how healthy eating seaweed actually is, and if it can replace fish with the nutritional content.
The benefits of seaweed are nothing new. It’s an ancient wisdom that we in the western world have forgotten a bit about. Especially in eastern cultures like Japan, Korea, and China seaweed has been harvested for thousands of years for food or medicine.
I’m nowhere near an expert on seaweed. But I explore, try, experience, question, read, research, study, and repeat. I’m currently studying nutrition and natural medicine, and ever more interested in exploring more about the superpowers that nature has to offer. With what I’ve learned so far, I hope to make you as excited about seaweed as a source of food.
What is actually seaweed? Is seaweed a vegetable? As the name says, seaweed is a weed of the sea. “Seaweed” is the common name for countless species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean as well as in rivers, lakes, and other water bodies. Some seaweeds are microscopic small, such as the phytoplankton. Some are big, like kelp that grow in abundant “forests.” Most seaweeds are somewhere in between (NOAA).
Here are 10 reasons to be excited about seaweed and why seaweed is good for you!
Leave any questions you have about seaweed in the comments and I can base a next blogpost on that.
Seaweed is globally available in abundance and variety
Seaweed grows pretty much everywhere in our oceans. It just needs sun, currents, and a rock. It washes up ashore, can be found between the rocks, and on the shorelines pretty much everywhere in the world.
Seaweed is good for you. They are nutritional powerhouses.
Seaweeds superpowers have been known since way back. The Romans used them to treat wounds, burns, and rashes. And there are sayings out there that even the Egyptians used them to treat breast cancer. In Japan seaweed is attributed to aging vitally old. Seaweed is good for you. Though seaweed covers a lot of territories and each species has a different nutritional profile some generalizations can be made. Here’s a summary of the health benefits of seaweed!
Edible seaweeds are a rich and sustainable source of macro and micronutrients. Seaweed has many essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, amino acids, vitamins such as A, C, E, K, and B vitamins, minerals such as folate, zinc, sodium, calcium, magnesium, and iron, and antioxidants. Seaweeds contain anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. And it’s a powerful source of iodine, which helps support your thyroid gland (But be careful eating too much of it). The mineral content of seaweeds is ten times higher as found in plants grown in soil. By eating seaweed it will be tough to create any mineral deficiencies! (Cherry et al, 2019; Mahadevan, 2015 ;USDA SR-21, 2018)
What makes seaweed most interesting is the source of Omega-3 , which is an essential fat our bodies need for good health. We do not create omega-3 in our bodies so we need to eat it. Where many of us think it’s fish where we have to source this from, it’s algae, including seaweed where the fish get their omegas from in the first place. A big reason why seaweed is good for you.
By eating seaweed it’ll be difficult to get mineral deficiencies. There are ten times as many minerals in seaweed than in plants grown in soil. Perhaps this has something to do with our more and more depleted soils?
Seaweed can be free
Where there’s the sea, there’s weed! Seaweed can be found in rivers, oceans, shorelines all around the world. It only needs a bit of sunlight and current to grow and can be foraged. Only take what you need. You can also find seaweed in more and more supermarkets, Asian stores, and on Etsy creators / foragers near you.
Sea is low resources farming
Plant, wait, harvest and that’s pretty much it! Seaweeds do not need fertilizing, weeding, or watering. Pests or diseases are hardly happening. Seaweed gets all it needs from its surroundings, and if it really thrives it can grow up to 15 centimeters, PER DAY!
Seaweed is the best replacement for fish
Not only for your health, for the health of the ocean seaweed is a better choice. Seaweed is the replacement for fish. There’s not much fish left and it’s increasingly toxic. In one-third of fish, microplastic is found. And in every sample of water I took across the Atlantic, plastic was found!
What makes seaweed most interesting is the source of Omega – 3, which is an essential fat our bodies need for good health. We do not create omega-3 in our bodies so we need to eat it. Where many of us think it’s fish where we have to source this from, it’s algae, including seaweed where the fish get their omegas from in the first place.
The recommended intake of omega 3 fatty acids is 500 mg / day. It’s the EPA and DHA oils that need to cover this amount.
Seaweed is versatile and can be eaten a variety of ways
There are thousands of kinds of seaweed. Seaweed is mostly red (over 7200 species), brown (about 2000 species), or green (more than 1800 species) (Seaweed.ie). There are many types of seaweeds and most of them are edible. Common types of seaweed include nori, kelp, wakame, Irish moss, kombu, dulse, and blue-green algae, like chlorella and spirulina.
You can eat seaweed raw, cooked, fried, and fresh. Sprinkle it in your soup, salad or pasta, or mix it in your smoothie. Put it in your pastries, bread, wraps, or around it. You can simply snack it. Use it as a salt replacer.
How much seaweed should you eat? It is recommended to only eat a few grams of seaweed per day. Be careful with eating too much seaweed because it can contain a lot of iodine (especially Kelp). Most people are Iodine deficient. But too much iodines can cause thyroid problems. I once overdosed myself with Irish moss and it wasn’t pleasant. Seaweed takes very little resources to grow.
Seaweed is a relatively safe food choice
Considering the large number of seaweed species we eat, and that eating seaweed is an ancient practice, there are only a handful of cases where seaweed caused a harmful effect.
Seaweed is plastic-free
Fish, beer, honey often contain microplastics these days, which in turn attract heavy metals like a sponge. Microplastics have even been found in the placenta of unborn babies. There is not any evidence that seaweed contains plastic. Seaweed IS the new ‘plastic’, and is increasingly used in the packaging industry as a more environmentally friendly wrapper.
Seaweed is easy to store, keep and travel
If you find seaweed free in the wild you can simply dry it and store it in a jar or bag. Or you can buy dried seaweed. It’s light so also easy to carry in the backpack. It lasts a long time and makes for great survival and emergency food. If I can only choose one supplement to travel with, it would be seaweed.
Seaweed brings the ocean into your house
Do you know the nori that’s wrapped around sushi rolls? This is seaweed. Yummy isn’t it? Seaweed tastes like the ocean. It smells like the ocean. It can have a bit of a funny texture. Sometimes it’s crunchy, sometimes is soaky. Sometimes it’s chewy. Seaweed gives dishes an extra touch of salt and a special finishing touch.
Lots of reasons why seaweed is good for you.
Which reason makes you most excited to incorporate more seaweed into your diet?
What else would you like to know?
Leave any questions you have about seaweed in the comments and I can base my next blogposts on that.
Read more on why seaweed is good for you
Cheney, D. Chapter 13 – Toxic and Harmful Seaweeds,Editor(s): Joël Fleurence, Ira Levine,
Seaweed in Health and Disease Prevention, Academic Press, 2016,Pages 407-421,
ISBN 9780128027721, https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-802772-1.00013-0.
Paul Cherry, Cathal O’Hara, Pamela J Magee, Emeir M McSorley, Philip J Allsopp, Risks and benefits of consuming edible seaweeds, Nutrition Reviews, Volume 77, Issue 5, May 2019, Pages 307–329, https://doi.org/10.1093/nutrit/nuy066
Wells, M. L., Potin, P., Craigie, J. S., Raven, J. A., Merchant, S. S., Helliwell, K. E., Smith, A. G., Camire, M. E., & Brawley, S. H. (2017). Algae as nutritional and functional food sources: revisiting our understanding. Journal of applied phycology, 29(2), 949–982. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-016-0974-5
Are you oceanpreneuring in seaweed and would like to team up? Let me hear from you!