Vitamin Sea

Scoot over, avocados and kale, there’s a new superfood in town. While off-putting at first, seaweed is rich in essential vitamins and can be enjoyed in many forms.

Words by Annie Peterson | Photo by Unsplash

If you’re on TikTok, then you’ve definitely seen — or at least heard about — Emily Mariko’s infamous salmon bowl. If not, it’s basically deconstructed sushi made up of leftovers. But, the star of the show is how she eats. Mariko uses seaweed sheets, also known as nori, to scoop and eat the salmon mixture.

This video not only took the internet by storm but introduced many to the superfood that is seaweed and enjoying it outside of sushi rolls.

In its natural habitat, seaweed is rather unappealing. But, it holds a multitude of health and environment benefits. Seaweed is the name for multiple species of algae and marine plants. The different species come in a range of sizes from phytoplankton to the size you usually see on the beach and large kelp that grows like a tower.

Many of these species are also edible — and quite delicious. It can be an interesting cuisine to get into but the benefits and taste are worth it. Move over kale, because seaweed is the new superfood and it’s here to stay.

This is a red seaweed that’s dried into sheets. When you eat sushi, nori is what you’re eating. They’re also sold in packs to enjoy as a quick snack or crumble over rice and popcorn for a unique, umami flavor.

Instead of eating this brown seaweed, it’s main- ly used as a flavoring agent for class Japanese broths and soups like dashi and miso soup.

Another brown seaweed, but unlike kombu, wakame is meant to be eaten. It’s also used
to create miso soup, but is left in when served to be eaten. It has a slightly sweet taste, making
it perfect for seaweed salad, like the image
to the right.

Health benefits

  • Contains a multitude of vitamins and minerals including: Vitamin A, D, E, C, and B along with calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
  • Is rich in fiber and high in protein.
  • Early studies have found seaweed helps with high blood sugar.
  • Seaweed contains iodine which aids in thyroid health.
  • Four compounds in seaweed — fucoidan, fucoxanthin, astaxanthin and phlorotannin — pro- vide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

Environmental benefits

Seaweed farming has recently risen in popularity in the US. They grow many of the variations that we eat,
but the farms also provide great environmental benefits to not only the water but land as well.

The plants suck up carbon dioxide then use that to grow. They also remove nitrogen from the water.

Brown seaweeds absorb the most nitrogen and are commonly turned into meal to be used as fertilizer. This fertilizer provides plants on a land with a boat load of nutrients and minerals which causes plants to grow faster. Seaweed fertilizer has also been found to help retain water in the soil.

The components of seaweeds are not the only things that help the planet. The way seaweed grows without the need for soil or fresh water is a major benefit. When comparing that to fruits and vegetables, which take constant maintenance and a regular stream of water, seaweed is a walk in the park — or rather a swim in the ocean.

Seaweed also releases oxygen, which greatly helps the plants and life around it. This actively com- bats the negative effects of ocean acidification created by oysters and clams because they are a calcium carbonate-dependent species.

Researchers from Harvard have made a big discovery in 2019. They found that seaweed is the leading and most effective way of absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere.

Seaweed really does it all, and does it well.

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