Did you know that there are some types of algae that are suitable for consumption? More and more people include these organisms that grow in the oceans in their daily meals to eat a healthier and more balanced diet. The algae are organisms that grow mainly in the aquatic world and can present a wide variety of colors and shapes. However, those that we consider as edible can be classified as green, red and brown or brown.
What are marine algae
Seaweeds are organisms with capacity to do the oxygenic photosynthesis that live mainly in aquatic environments (either fresh or salt water), although they are also cultivated in different coastal areas. Currently, 25,000 different species have been discovered all over the world, but only 50 of them are suitable for human consumption.
These organisms defined as eukaryotes can be of two main types: unicellular or pluricellular. However, seaweed graded as edible is also currently classified according to its color:
- Red seaweed:have this tone due to its richness in biliproteins, a substance that causes the elimination of green color.
- Blue-green algae:its high chlorophyll content is the cause of the color of this type of organism.
- Brown algae:only found in salty waters and its color is caused by its content in xanthophylls, iodine and other pigmenting substances.
- Golden algae:also called Chrysophyceae and are mainly freshwater. Its color is from an intense yellow to yellow and golden tones, close to brown or brown.
- Green algae:due to their presence of chlorophyll and starch, these algae are distinguished by having a greenish shade than bluish ones.
Properties of edible seaweed
As we anticipated in previous lines, seaweed has become a very popular food all over the world because, in addition to having a delicious flavor and easy conservation, they have a high concentration of essential nutrients for our health in very small quantities.
Next, we will explain the properties of edible algae that have become an increasingly sought after food for a healthy and balanced diet:
- Healthy fats:edible algae provide up to 5% essential unsaturated fats. In addition to this, this vegetable does not contain saturated fats, that is, those that are not healthy for our body.
- High fiber content:thanks to this, they have certain laxative and digestive properties. They also contain other fibers such as mucilage, polysaccharides that can retain several times their volume in water, so they are also considered a fairly satisfying food.
- Great source of iodine:this nutrient is considered an essential trace element for our cells to perform energy metabolism correctly. Also because of this richness, they are an ideal alternative for vegetarians since the main sources of iodine are fish and shellfish.
- High calcium content:some edible seaweed can provide up to 1400 mg of this nutrient, consuming only 100 grams of this aquatic organism.
- Rich in iron:algae are an ideal food for vegan diets because although its iron content is of vegetable origin, it also has vitamin C, which favors the absorption of this mineral.
- Other nutrients in its composition: inaddition to the above properties, algae also have great richness in different vitamins such as A, B and E and in other minerals such as selenium and zinc.
Benefits of cosmetible seaweed
Due to the properties and nutrients that we have explained in the previous section, edible algae have the following health benefits:
- They avoid some intestinal problems:due to their digestive and laxative properties, the algae regulate the intestinal tract and prevent some problems such as constipation.
- They favor weight loss:algae are very useful in low-calorie diets because, thanks to their mucilage content, they reduce appetite and increase the sensation of satiety if, before consuming them, you drink a glass of water.
- They help to purify the organism:due to its contribution in alginic acid, this food helps eliminate toxins accumulated in our body.
- They help regulate the thyroid:thanks to its richness in iodine, the algae favor the functioning of the thyroid gland.
- They favor cardiovascular health:as we have indicated, this food is rich in healthy fats, which helps us to prevent high levels of bad cholesterol.
- Prevent osteoporosis:thanks to its content in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, algae are an excellent product to keep our bones and teeth in good condition.
Types of edible seaweed and how to eat them
We already know both the properties and the benefits of these organisms. But how are they consumed? Below we will explain what the types of edible seaweed are and how we can consume them:
- Wakame:this type of algae, also known as Undaria pinnatifida, is especially rich in vitamins such as complex B and C and in minerals, such as calcium and potassium. One of the most popular ways to consume Wakame is as a condiment in salads or as an ingredient in pestos.
- Nori: itstands out for being easy to digest and for being especially rich in proteins and vitamin A. The most popular way to take nori is in sushi for its delicate flavor, but it can also be the ingredient of any soup, stew or dish of pasta. For example, it is common to find it also in hot dishes such as ramen.
- Spirulina or spirulina: in addition to its intense bluish green color, spirulina is an algae that stands out as one of the foods with the highest protein intake (even more than eggs and meat). In addition, it also has a high content of calcium, phosphorus and different vitamins (including B12, E and provitamin A). This seaweed can be consumed either as a vitamin supplement or as a paste.
- Seaweed barnacle or sea ramallo:its scientific name is Codium fragile and is increasingly used in cooking for its unique texture and flavor, which resembles that of barnacles.
- Fucus: Fucus vesiculosusis a brown algae that stands out for its great wealth of vitamins and minerals. Due to its laxative and diuretic properties, the best known way to consume fucus is as a dietary supplement for weight loss diets. The properties of the fucus are these and more, you can finish knowing them here.
- Kombu seaweed: ithas a high content of both iodine and glutamic acid, so this seaweed is used to enhance the flavor of the stews and to soften the fibers of other legumes during cooking. In this other article we show you these and other properties of kombu algae.
- Sea lettuce:it is also known as Ulva lactuca. This alga rich in minerals such as iron and magnesium and in vitamins A and C can be consumed both raw and in different wines.
- Dulse algae:this reddish algae, also known as Palmaria palmata algae, dillisk, dilsk or creathnach, is especially rich in iron and fiber. This seaweed can be consumed both cooked by adding it in soups or raw in salads after soaking.
- Agar agar:this type is an extract obtained from different red algae, which are notable for their mucilage content. Due to the properties to absorb water and its lack of flavor, agar agar is used both to thicken and to gel different dishes such as sauces, jams, jams, ice creams, creams and mousses.
Almost all of these algae, in addition to being able to eat them directly in dishes, can be taken in capsules or specific algae pills. For example, spirulina and fucus pills are very common.