Marine Algae, Superfoods from the Sea

Marine algae are one of the new foods gaining commercial production in many countries; not surprising when you consider their properties and benefits.

Studies carried out in different localities where algae consumption is widespread have shown that people living in these areas live longer and in a much healthier way. The nutritional wealth provided by these plants can be much higher than that of any other vegetable.

Marine algae are highly regarded for their contribution of vitamins and minerals; they stimulate the metabolism, clean the blood, eliminating toxins, to promote healthy kidney function. But there is more. Eating marine algae helps with weight loss and stimulation of the thyroid glands due to the high iodine content, so it is recommended for people suffering from hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland).

Consuming marine algae helps in the prevention of cancer treatment of skin diseases and hair problems, and the vitamin K helps to contain hemorrhages and improve the gastrointestinal system.

You could say marine algae are one of the most sustainable and nutritious crops on the planet; they do not require drinking water or fertilizers that influence their nutritional value. Everything they need to live is absorbed directly from the sea, so they are a good option both to cultivate and to add to recipes.

Marine Algae Definition

Algae are autotrophic organisms that organize simply and perform a photosynthesis process that produces large amounts of oxygen. This plant from the sea is considered a vegetal lung and is classified as a group of primitive vegetables endowed with pigments that include blue, green, yellow, red and brown. They can exist in both fresh and salt water. Some are microscopic and others very large.

Marine Algae Benefits

Seaweed consumption can benefit the family in general. Among the most important benefits are:

  • Suitable and highly recommended for vegetarians and vegans.
  • An extraordinary source of fiber, so help to restore intestinal health.
  • Contain essential and non-essential amino acids.
  • Provide trace elements such as iodine, potassium, calcium and iron.
  • Suitable for diabetics and celiacs.
  • Highly alkaline, so help to maintain the pH level of the blood and compensate for acidity caused by the excess intake of meats or processed foods.
  • Very depurative. Help detoxify the body, cleanse the blood and stimulate the functioning of the kidneys and liver.
  • Regulate blood pressure.
  • Suitable for weight loss because they dissolve fats and mucus created by high milk consumption. Also, they do not provide calories or fat.
  • Beneficial for the skin; spirulina, for example, is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6, folic acid, and others, which strengthen the skin, nails and hair. Marine algae are also used in the treatment of chronic skin diseases, acne, wrinkles and slow the aging process.

According to researchers at the University of California Los Angeles, marine algae provide several benefits to the skin when applied topically. The phytonutrients provide cardioprotective and anticarcinogenic benefits, so frequent consumption is recommended.


Nutritional Properties that Algae Bring

Algae are the oldest plants in the evolution chain; their properties come directly from the sea where they get extraordinary mineral wealth. Marine algae do not absorb as much pollution as fish since they do not grow in a contaminated area, so it is a very clean and organic food full of essential nutrients such as:

  • Carbohydrates and vegetable proteins.
  • Alginic acid, which allows eliminating toxins and heavy metals.
  • Minerals: All algae species are rich in iron, a structural atom in hemoglobin and calcium, essential for bones. They also provide magnesium and potassium, and that is why they are listed as one of the richest vegetables. But the best thing is its iodine content, essential for the growth and development of the body.
  • Rich in vitamins: Seaweed provides vitamin A and B in high quantities; vitamin C and E, which provide an antioxidant character that prevents the formation of free radicals, keeping cells healthy. Also, vitamin D, vital in the absorption of calcium to improve bone health. And the K vitamins, help coagulation of blood, among other benefits.
  • Marine algae omega-3: Sustainable 100 per cent vegetable omega-3 oil is extracted and is a good alternative to fish oil. It is good for the heart, brain and eyes, and does not leave a bad taste in the mouth.

Marine Algae Variety

There are three types of edible seaweed; the green ones that are mostly born near the surface, the browns that develop in shallow areas and the red ones that reproduce in the deepest parts where there is less light. In general, marine algae grow in greater abundance in cold waters or during winter; they contain chlorophyll and carry out the process of photosynthesis according to the amount of light.

The most common edible marine algae are:

  • Nori

It is a source of vitamins and minerals in equivalence with red meat; rich in vitamin A and iron. They are the type of marine algae best known for use in the preparation of sushi and Asian dishes. It is greenish-brown and cartilaginous in texture and has antioxidant and depurative properties.

You can consume it in protein shakes, with fruit or whatever you want to combine it with. Use it in salads as a complement of flavor and aroma, or on rice, pasta and meat.

  • Spirulina

Very commonly used in diets to help weight loss. Its benefits are varied and it has been popularized as a widely used superfood. You can consume it in its most natural form, adding it to salads, rice, pasta, meat, smoothies or natural juices. If you take it in the morning, you start the day with a lot of energy.

  • Hijiki

Its most significant contribution is calcium. Dark blue with an elongated appearance, it is an attractive complement to dry pasta and grains, but you can also add it to smoothies and other dishes.

  • Dulse

This seaweed has up to 30 times more potassium than a banana and 200 times more iron than a beet. It is reddish and has a crustacean flavor and also provides protein, fiber, zinc and vitamin C. You can eat it raw or cooked, added to soups, meat, fish and in shakes.

  • Kombu

Brown-colored seaweed that you find commercially in strips; they are striking and special to use in dishes with grains, pasta and meats or to enhance the aroma and taste of stews or cooked vegetables. Its flavor is iodized and a little smoked. Kombu provides mineral salts and is recommended for athletes and people with osteoporosis. It contains a lot of fiber, helps to reduce cholesterol and mitigate constipation.

  • Agar agar

It comes from the combination of eight different types of algae. It is suitable for vegetarians and has a neutral flavor. Used to thicken sauces and desserts and also in cold and hot milkshakes and soups. It stimulates the intestines.

Marine Algae for Skin

Marine algae oil is another way to use seaweed and is highly recommended as a cosmetic product because it regulates the sebaceous glands. It is an excellent moisturizer for the skin, smoothes, regenerates, increases blood circulation, detoxifies, and is rich in vitamins B1 and B12, allantoin, mineral salts and proteins. Also used in hair products.

Marine algae have evolved into skin treatments and are included in creams, oils, shampoos, masks and exfoliants. These products are used in facial and body treatments.

Seaweed helps stimulate the blood and restores the skin. The effects can be noticed mostly in the face because it reduces expression lines. A significant benefit is the ability to generate changes in a short time because the skin absorbs it quickly, so it is useful with wrinkles.

Seaweed is rich in proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, minerals and trace elements, all important nutrients for the skin. The high mineral content helps to increase the elasticity and tone of the skin and decreases sagging.

Algae in the Kitchen

Algae last for a long time in their dry state and can be included in a variety of recipes and protein shakes to increase daily nutrient intake.

Marine algae provide 55 per cent of the planet’s oxygen, illustrating the enormous power of this plant. In any presentation, seaweed is an excellent option to maintain and improve health and therefore the quality of life.

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