Seaweed — yes, the brownish-green ribbons and bundles of oceanic plantlike matter that wash up on beaches — is in fact edible. Nori, the papery sheets used to wrap sushi rolls and as a ramen bowl garnish, is likely the most well-known and enjoyed seaweed, but these large, leafy algae come in hundreds of colorful varieties, including wakame, kombu, red dulse and sugar kelp.
Seaweed helps to support other marine life and to clean the water surrounding it. When out of the water, it can bring more nutrition and minerals to our diets..
“Even though we try to eat healthy, we’re relying on land-based, soil-based agriculture for the most part,” said Sarah Redmond, founder and owner of Springtide Seaweed in Gouldsboro, Maine. “Seaweed is a really interesting alternative because it provides those nutrients that are really hard to find in other land plants.”
With several companies bringing seaweed-based foods to the market, it’s getting easier than ever to taste the sea. Here’s why we all can benefit from seaweed.
Good for humans and the environment
Though nutritional profiles vary slightly between green, brown and red varieties, across the board seaweed contains a number of vitamins, including B, C, E and K, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, amino acids, polyphenols and 10 times more minerals than land-based plants, according to a recent study. These essential minerals include iron, calcium and iodine.
“Seaweeds have this ability to concentrate all the trace minerals in the ocean that we cannot access,” Redmond said. “They are sort of this balancing food that we can return some of those trace elements back into our bodies and into our diets.”
And when used as a fertilizer for land-based farming, seaweed can add those essential nutrients back into the soil, improving its health.