Seaweed as the future food

From ancient time seaweed (marine macro-alga) were part of the human food supply. The Roman used to collect seaweed from the Mediterranean coastline and feed their cattle on it in order to increase fat concentration in the milk, so as using it as a soil fertilizer to improve crops yield.  Evidence to the use of Seaweed as a food source in Japan and China go back to the fourth and sixth centuries. Today the largest consumers of seaweed as food are China, Japan and Korea were Seaweed are found almost in every dish or meal.

Beyond taste and flavor, seaweed add plenty of healthy and needed elements to our food including minerals, trace elements, antioxidants, fibers and protein. Moreover, seaweed is great source of vitamins including vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, and B vitamins. The health benefits in consuming seaweed continue with active molecules such as polysaccharide and fucoidans that can reduce cancer risk. Adding seaweed to foods with high glycemic value known to reduce it due to the high fiber content found in seaweed and other active chemicals that decrease sugar absorption after eating.

The rich marine environment where seaweed flourish serves as a great source for minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium that are all abounded in many types of seaweed. Iodine, that play a major role in embryonic and newborn development can also be found and consumed from seaweed such as Ulva and Gracilaria and other brown and red species.

Seaweed are also excellent ingredient in meat replacement products aimed to the growing population of vegetarian and others that try to reduce red meat consumption. Seaweed are rich with alginate and ager both are key players in producing the “meat like” bite and flyover that are needed in these products. High and balanced protein levels together with all the above benefits makes seaweed a key player in future development of the health-food industry.

Seaweed grow fast and can absorb and concentrate whatever is in the marine environment including toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury. Most of the seaweed product companies regularly test their seaweed before sending it to the market and care should be taken in this matter. Land-based seaweed cultivation technologies that control marine water quality are also part of the solution to this problem.

Overall seaweed is great source for healthy and beneficial ingredient that can be added to all kind of foods from snacks to entrée all over the world.