If you are a sushi lover, you are probably familiar with nori, this seaweed that is used in the manufacture of these rolls with a thousand and one possibilities. But did you know that there are several hundred types of algae?
As with the more famous vegetables, some types of seaweed have more nutritional value than others. Algae are generally classified by their color; whether red, brown or green, and are chosen for their fiber, antioxidant and mineral content, including iodine.
You are probably already eating seaweed without even realizing it!
Yes, several varieties of yogurt (especially the low-fat versions) contain carrageenan. The latter can also appear as E407 (food classification code). Its usefulness for the food industry comes from its property of thickening and gelling a product, but this use of algae is more or less interesting; carrageenan is possibly linked to the development of gastrointestinal disorders. Instead, opt for whole seaweed, which is mostly found dry in our grocery stores. If it’s the seaweed in brine that you like, be sure to rinse it off before eating it, as it’s very salty.
Among the most popular, we find among others: wakame, nori, kombu, sea bean, dulse, sea lettuce, spirulina. The latter is in fact a microalgae, sold in powder form. It is commonly used by vegans to meet their needs for vitamin B12, which is found mainly in the animal kingdom, except spirulina which is an exception. However, the disadvantage of B12 which is found in spirulina is that its bioavailability is very low, therefore very little absorbed. Despite the impressive percentages of B12 on Spirulina Nutrition Facts labels, their action is rather limited. For vegans, supplements sold in pharmacies are therefore a better option to meet their needs for this vitamin, essential for the integrity of the nervous system and blood.
Seaweed has this special taste called umami. Umami is actually a Japanese term which means: delicious taste! Umami is now recognized as the 5th taste, the others being sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
Tips to better integrate it
When looking to increase our intake of a particular food, say algae, it is important to find various ways to incorporate it into dishes that we love if we want the change to persist over time. Seaweed works well in your fish and seafood dishes, with pasta or rice, in an omelet, with vegetables or even in salads. Seaweed can be easily used as decoration or as a flavoring, but can also be served as a vegetable in its own right.
Try this Tempeh bowl and sprinkle it with a few seaweed leaves, sliced into thin strips!