Why are seaweed healthy?
According to the Prohibition Regulation on nutrition and health claims “Regulation No 1924/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council” – we are not allowed to call seaweed for healthy So we don’t! – But DTU , Science , Christian Bitz and many more does!
This page will cover the following areas.
Introduction – The weed of the sea
The good kind of fat
Seaweed is a diet food
Fish and seaweed
All the good substances
The salt in seaweed
Seaweed and umami
Seaweed is an untapped raw material in the Nordic kitchen
However, we can’t live of only seaweed
Seaweed occurs in many places where you may not even realize it
Can you grow seaweeds in Denmark?
In view of how many people have become acquainted with seaweed as an annoying element at the beach, there is nothing to say that the English expression is seaweed. It says something about the general attitude of the West to the big sea algae.
In Denmark however, we have come so far that we call seaweed for the sea’s vegetable – which sounds more inviting. In an article about seaweed, Christian Bitz writes: “Some of the trendiest things you can put your teeth in are that you also get between your toes a hot summer day at the water’s edge.” And he continues:
“For seaweed is simply some of the healthiest you can eat. Normally, I’m not so excited about proclaiming food for superfood because it’s more important to eat varied than to eat some particular things because they both get the most different of the healthy ingredients onboard. But with regard to seaweed, it’s so close that I feel like… “
In this connection, we can also mention a quote by Ole G. Mouritsen, who has written the danish book “Seaweed: Vegetables of the sea” – a book that we recommended:
“Seaweed has more to offer than being a potential source of nutrition for humankind. Thus, seaweed have been used by humans for the purposes of the world, for example. building materials, fuel and soil fertilizers. “
Seaweed is more common in the East, where sea algaes have been considered valuable over the years, and it tops in Japan where they celebrate the Seaweed’s Day every year on 6th of February.
Tang which is seaweed in danish is an ancient Nordic common name for plants that grow in the sea. In everyday speech, seaweed is denoted as what we find along the shore and on the Danish coasts we find toothed wrack, bladder wrack, sugar kelp, red dulse or sea lettuce.
Seaweed are not real plants, but multicellular, large algae, also known as macroalgae.
In the East, seaweed has a special status, not least because many different seaweed species are part of the daily food of the population, and there is a rich cultural history for the harvesting and cultivation of seaweed.
Most of the world’s consumption seaweed is produced in special seaweed farms, and especially China, the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia and Japan are leading producers of these seaweed farms.
The annual value of this type of aquaculture now exceeds 40 billion dannish crowns. The most valuable single crop is the Japanese nori, known from sushi. Nori is produced by red algae Porphyra yezoensis, in Danish purpurhinde. The world’s nori industry has an annual turnover of around 10 billion danish crowns.
Seaweed in Denmark is still a pretty small part of this, but signs from the industry at home indicate that it is a market in rapid growth.
When we ask people if they have tasted seaweed, the answer is often, no. But it is longer and longer between a rejection no – and its because the seaweed contains a very significant health potential as food for man. The composition of the various nutrients, especially the essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, is somewhat near the ideal as human food.
It may not sound much when you say that seaweed contains 2-5% fat in dry weight. But the interesting thing is that there is an overweight of unsaturated fatty acids, typically 2-3 times more unsaturated than saturated fat. In addition, the unsaturated fatty acids, especially the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
It is also well-known that the western diet contains too much saturated fat and too little of the essential fatty acids that our organism can not or only produce to a very limited extent.
The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in seaweed is in the range of 0.7-3.2, which is close to the ideal ratio of about 1. It is remarkable that our nervous system and brain contain 65% fat, of which more than half are the long chain, super-unsaturated fatty acids and that the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is close to 1. This is the reason for mentioning fish and seaweed as brain food.
In addition, the ratio of the essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is completely out of balance. The imbalance is a contributing factor to many of the lifestyle diseases we are suffering from, especially cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes II and cancer, but also the many mental illnesses that are in strong growth in the West. We typically eat at least ten times too much omega-6 relative to omega-3. Omega-6 is obtained from plant foods such as soybeans and various plant oils, for example. from corn and sunflower. Omega-3 comes mainly from the sea – from fish, shellfish and algae. Interestingly, for fish too, omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids.
Research suggests that the seaweed’s content of vitamins and minerals and other good substances is ten times greater than in some of the plants we know from the land. The seaweed is also perfectly slim, since it’s stuffed with dietary fibers – there are more fibers per. 100 g than in other known fiber-rich vegetables like cabbage and broccoli – and is also very low-calorie.
The fish can not even produce omega-3 fatty acids. They must take them from their diet, i.e. further down from the food chain where we meet the algae. It is algae and hence seaweed, which is the main source of essential omega-3 fatty acids, especially the long-chain and super-unsaturated fatty acids docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), which we know best from fish oil as a dietary supplement.
The content of different substances varies greatly from seaweed species to seaweed species, and furthermore the amount of the substances depends on the habitat and season variation. We are currently participating. in an experiment with DTU where these substances are to be measured. Of course, there is a little time before the results can be compared, but we will inform you about it on our website.
The iodine content may be very high in brown seaweed, especially leaf seaweed (Saccharina latissima, Saccharina japonica). Iodine is important for thyroid hormonal function, but can also be harmful in excessive quantities.
During the last quarter of 2018 the page will be updated with a lot of new knowledge and information about the content of seaweeds.
The interesting thing about the salt in the seaweed is that most species have an excess of potassium salts relative to sodium salts, making seaweed and seaweed salt good replacements for cooking salt in relation to blood pressure regulation. It’s good for you, your health and your blood pressure.
Seaweed also has the very deep umami flavor, which we otherwise know primarily from meat and stored products, which makes the seaweed do so your dishes taste of more.
There is good reason to assume that seaweeds in earlier times, in all coastal areas, were part of the diet. We know that seaweed used to be part of the poverty line in the coastal areas of the Nordic region, and in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and on the Norwegian coastline there is still a memory of seaweed in food intake. There is hardly any doubt that seaweed in the future will be a much larger part of our diet.
In the industry, we also see increasing demand from both health food stores, but also from resturants who wish to serve fresh Danish seaweed for their guests.
If you want to become get more knowledge in this area, we will hold various seaweed events
Seaweed like “vegetables from the sea” will mean a welcome renewal in the western dietary pattern, and may counteract the growth in diet related diseases.
Hardly any other commodity has as wide use in the kitchen as seaweed. Seaweed can be eaten raw, cooked, baked, toasted, purified, dried, granulated or deep fried. It can be eaten by itself or it can be found in countless combinations with other cold or hot ingredients. In almost every situation, the seaweed retains most of its healthy ingredients intact.
Therefore, there is a good reason why a growing number of Danish chefs up to Michelin star status have taken the seaweed as an exciting and challenging commodity.
Initially, it will be red dulse, purple laver, winged kelp, toothed wrack, bladder wrack, sugar kelp, oarweed, cuvie and sea lettuce, which will be the most obvious species to use in Nordic cuisine, despite the fact that there are more than a hundred species of seaweeds in Denmark alone.
Previously, we wrote that it was the few that had tried to eat seaweed – at least Danish seaweed. But look an extra time the next time you buy products – maybe it contains seaweed. Seaweed has more to offer than being a potential source for human consumption. Thus, seaweed have been used by humans for the purposes of the world, for example. building materials, fuel and soil fertilizer.
In addition, it has been used for several decades in more or less processed form such as medicine, salt and gelling agent and as a source of important substances such as iodine, potash and soda. In recent times, seaweed have been used in the production of bioactive and pharmaceutical products and may also be used in the future to produce biofuels such as diesel and ethanol.
Without knowing, most people come in daily contact with products derived from seaweed in the form of additives, such as used to thicken foods. The E-400 to E-405, E-406, and E-407 E-Numbers thus cover the groups of alginates, agar and carrageenan extracted from brown algae (alginat) and red algae (agar and carrageenan), respectively.
Alginate, agar and carrageenan are complex polysaccharides that have an outstanding ability to bind water. A good agar can, for example, bind more than 99% water. Some carrageenans are good at tying proteins, and are therefore used to thicken dairy products.
Other carrageenans have anti-viral effects that are used in contraceptive products to reduce the risk of HIV infection.
Norway has a large production of alginate on the basis of the harvest of wild incarnations of cuvie (Laminaria hyperborea) and Norwegian kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum).
In the near future, we would like to start a project where we 2-3 places around the Isefjord, Kattegat and Storebælt make 4-5 aquaculture for cultivating seaweed. Seaweed can also be used for combination breeding – that’s where it stands with, for example. an aquaculture with trout or mussels. The possibilities are many – but more about it in the near future.
We are currently working on getting products with seaweed on shelves in so many specialty stores, delicatessen farm stores, etc. as possible – these products can be both raw seaweed for further processing or seaweed as processed product – such as salt, oil, pesto or mustard.
Sources: videnskab.dk, current science, Christian Bitz, Ole G. Mouritsen, DTU (Susan Holdt)