What are Red Algae?
Red algae are also known as Rhodophyta. It is an ancient Greek name belonging to the oldest group of eukaryotic algae. Over 6000 species can be seen attached to other sea plants. These are red in color because of the presence of chlorophyll by phycobilin pigments.
You may find 5 % of red algae in freshwater. Red algae are also classified into some species like dulse, Irish moss, coralline algae or laver, etc. Red algae are an important part of the ecosystem because they are eaten by sea animals like worms, fishes, etc. Humans eat them too because they have certain health benefits in the form of supplements. Let’s talk some more about red algae and red algae supplements.
Types of Red Algae
There are over 6000 types of red algae but a few red algae species that are edible and those are sea moss also known as irish moss, agar-agar, dulse, Red Hordweed.
- Sea Moss
- Red Hornweed
Health Benefits of Red algae
As you might already know now that there are thousands of red algae and each would have similar nutrition profiles but not the same. This is why in this post I am going to quickly go over the health benefits of four red algae namely sea moss, dulse, agar-agar, and red-hornweed.
Red Algae (Sea Moss) Health Benefits
Sea Moss also known as Irish moss is very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin K, calcium and copper, and a very good source of riboflavin, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and manganese. 92 to 99 minerals of all 102 minerals are good for the human body.
Here is how sea moss the red alga benefits our body:
- An Antiviral Agent
- Treats our damaged skin, hair, and nails
- Good for Thyroid function
- Dietary Supplement (Helps in weight loss)
- Fights Fungal Infections
- Improves Vision
- Strengthens Bones
- Boosts Immunity
Red Algae (Dulse) Health Benefits
Dulse is from red-algae and its scientific name Palmaria palmata, which grows in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans in the Northwest and North regions respectively. Dulse seaweed grows wildly and is not cultivated. The colors of Dulse seaweed range from crimson to a deep purple hue.
Dulse is a rich source of Vitamins, including Vitamin-C and a good amount of proteins and dietary fiber.
Health benefits of Dulse (Red Agla) are the following.
- Boosts immunity
- Helpful in weight loss
- Strengthens bones, teeth, and nails
- Good for vision
- Good for thyroid gland
- Also good for skin due to presence of antioxidant in dulse
Agar-Agar The Red Agla
You might already have seen this jelly-like substance made from red-algae. Agar-agar is mostly used in decorative dishes. It is available in powder form, you just need to add water to use it.
Agar-agar is a good source of calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, sodium, carbohydrate, Vitamin-A, C, and a high amount of magnesium.
Agar-agar could be helpful in losing weight, strengthening bones, teeth, improving vision, boosting immunity.
Red Hornweed- Another Red Alga
Red hornweed is a tiny red alga, also known by its scientific name ceramium virgatum. It is commonly found in rocky pools with other wide range of sea plants. It is mostly found around British Island. This red alga is less explored.
Red Algae for Hair, Skin, and Nails
Most Red Algae are a good source of minerals, antioxidants, calcium, potassium and also help in producing hormones and collagen in our body that strengthens and grows hair, minerals and antioxidants are good for all types of skin (dry, oily), calcium and collagen help strengthen our nails.
There are thousands of other red algae that are not yet tested and declared edible. A few red algae go very well with the brown algae family.
Side-Effects of Red Algae
Though Red Algae are a rich source of minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, proteines but they also carry some undesired metals from the ocean, which are not good for our body and health. Following are some of its side effects of red algae if eaten straight from the ocean (always try processed and packed red algae) and you are also advised not to take red algae if you are suffering from any disease already. Please consult your family physician before you start consuming algae in general.
- If you are suffering from stomach problems, or stomach ulcers, don’t purchase them. Otherwise, it can create cramps or infection in your stomach.
- Don’t give sea moss products to small children as children have a weak immune system.
- These products can also create problems like dizziness, diarrhea, cramps, faintness, and headache.
- If you are Pregnant or breastfeeding, you need not consume it. One must seek a doctor’s advice before consuming it.
- Low blood pressure patients or people are going under any other medication; need not consume sea moss products.