What is Seaweed?
Cuntless species of seaweeds and marine plants grow in the ocean, as well as in lakes, rivers, and other water bodies. Most seaweeds are the food source of various aquatic creatures while there exist many seaweeds that are edible and beneficial to us humans too.
Seaweeds aren’t of a particular species, but a common name used to describe a variety of aquatic plants and algae. They’re found in places where there is enough sunlight for them to grow, which comes within the top 200 meters of water.
Seaweeds have been a part of the human diet for a long time, dating back to the 5th century. Seaweeds have several health benefits that make them an excellent addition to our diet.
Types of Seaweed
Seaweeds are classified into four major groups – green seaweed (Chlorophyta), brown seaweed (Phaeophyta), blue-green seaweed (Cyanobacteria ), and red seaweed( Rhodophyta ). Not all of them are edible, and you are not advised to eat directly from the ocean. Always eat processed seaweed food grade products.
Seaweeds are in abundance, and not all of them yet identified and classified. Think this way that almost 75 percent of the planet earth is water, and these seaweeds/algae are everywhere.
Here are some edible seaweed from all four seaweed types.
Green-seaweed, scientifically named Chlorophyta, exists in more than 4000 species. They’re found in moist soil and freshwater or marine habitats. Green Seaweeds come in three forms: multicellular, colonial and unicellular.
Though the green seaweeds grow mostly in freshwater, some species like green fleece, sea lettuce and hollow green seaweed grow in marine water.
Examples of Green Seaweed
- Sea Lettuce
- Green Fleece
- Hollow Green Weed
With the scientific name Phaeophyta, brown seaweeds make up the most abundant type of seaweed. Brown seaweeds are usually yellow-brown or brown. They’re found in arctic or temperate waters. Brown seaweeds generally have a root-like structure that anchors them to the surface.
A type of brown forest forms the floating kelp beds in the Sargasso Sea while another forms vast kelp forests near the Californian coast.
Examples of Brown Seaweed
Blue-Green seaweed is the fourth type of seaweed. The tuft-forming blue-green Cyanobacteria are sometimes considered to be seaweeds. These types of seaweeds are usually found in home aquariums where they cover all the surfaces quickly.
Blue-Green seaweeds are also called smear algae or slime algae.
Red seaweeds are found in more than 6000 species. They have the scientific name Rhodophyta and gain their color due to the pigment phycoerythrin. Rhodophyta (red seaweed) can live at greater depths than brown and green seaweeds because they do not require direct sunlight. They can exist through the blue light absorbed through the water. A subgroup of red Seaweed, Coralline algae is necessary for the formation of coral reefs.
Several types of red seaweeds are used as food additives and in Asian cuisine.
Examples of Red Seaweed:
Uses of Red Seaweed
Red seaweed has been used for a long time as an essential source of nutrition. It has also been used as an ingredient in pharmaceutical substances. Many of the seaweeds are rich sources of protein, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, trace elements, and essential fatty acids.
In earlier times, red seaweeds were eaten raw, in soups, salads, meals, and condiments. Some species of red seaweeds are specially grown as food crops. For example, Nori in Japan, Gim in Korea, Dulse in Britain. These seaweeds have high amounts of protein and vitamins and are easily grown.
Red seaweeds like Gracilaria, Euchema, Porphyra, Palmaria, Gelidium, and Acanthophora are mainly known for their industrial use as thickening agents, anticoagulants, textiles, food, water-binding agents, etc.
Dulse is one of the most consumed red seaweed, and it’s a good source of protein, iodine, calcium, and magnesium.
Health Benefits of Red Seaweed
Like other seaweeds, red seaweeds are natural source of minerals. Most of red seaweeds have 92-99 minerals and these minerals are essential to human body. Red seaweeds are also good and natural source of iodine. You are advised to use processed seaweed in general. Since, every seaweed species lives in a distinct way and environment, it is obvious that their nutritional composition will vary. This is why you must check seaweed package wherever you buy it.
Here are some of the promising health benefits of red seaweed.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Red seaweeds contain good amounts of potassium. Potassium is a vasodilator i.e. it helps reduce the damage and strain to blood arteries and vessels caused by high blood pressure. Thus, it helps in lowering blood pressure, which also lessens the risk of heart attacks and coronary heart diseases. Red seaweed also acts as ‘brain food’ because potassium can also help increase the blood flow to the capillaries and the brain.
Boosts the Immune System
Vitamin C increases the white blood cells in our blood, contributing to the repair and growth through its role in collagen production. Vitamin C also keeps the immune system in working order, which is crucial for our good health. Since Vitamin C is readily available in red seaweeds, especially Dulse, it helps boost the immune system.
Builds Strong Bones
Red seaweeds contain a wealth of minerals, including iron, magnesium, and calcium. All these minerals contribute to bone mineral density in our bodies. They can also help protect tissues and joints, helping you stay stronger in your old age.
Improves Eye Vision
Red seaweeds have high levels of Vitamin A in them. Vitamin A helps with vision problems, acting as an antioxidant and preventing free radicals from damaging eye tissues. Vitamin A can also slow down the development of cataracts.
Improves Blood Circulation
Red seaweeds contain a high amount of iron, as do other seaweeds. Iron helps in the production of hemoglobin, which in turn improves the circulation of blood. Having proper amounts of iron in your blood reduces risks of anemia and its unpleasant symptoms like headaches, stomach issues, cognitive disorders, and overall weakness.
Thus, Red seaweeds have a lot of uses and health benefits, and when consumed in proper amounts, they can be very beneficial.
Red Seaweed FAQs
Red Seaweeds are commonly found in tide pools and coral reefs.
Red Algae are just another name for red seaweeds, so yes, Red Algae are seaweeds.