When people think of superfoods, seaweeds and sea vegetables usually aren’t the first choice that comes to mind. Yet seaweeds are amazingly nutrient dense and contain a load of compounds that help to support our health. The problem is, most of us don’t know what to do with them and how to use them in day-to-day cooking. That’s why we created this Guide to Seaweeds and Sea Vegetables to help you learn how to use this incredible array of tasty ingredients. Once you get on the seaweed train, you’re on it for life!
Guide To Seaweeds
Seaweeds are categorized into a few main groups, based on colour:
- Green seaweed: Can be anywhere from dull to bright and are rich in chlorophyll, otherwise known as the blood of plants (you’ll also find it in dark leafy greens and other green veggies).
- Red seaweed: Can be anywhere from reddish to purplish and are especially high in carotenoids, which are known to be anti-inflammatory.
- Brown seaweed: Not the most attractive, but brown seaweeds are incredible sources of iodine.
Health Benefits of Seaweeds and Sea Vegetables
Seaweeds and sea vegetables are rich in an array of nutritious qualities. They are:
- High in iodine, which is crucial for the thyroid and hormonal health.
- Rich in chlorophyll, which can help nourish our red blood cells, cleanse and detoxify, and can help prevent cancer, too.
- High in iron, an important mineral for energy production.
- A source of antioxidants like Vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption and is great for immunity.
- A good source of protein.
- High in B vitamins for energy and stress relief.
- Rich in polysaccharides called fucoidans that have anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties.
- A source of compounds that have anti-cancer effects in human breast cancer and colon cancer.
- Naturally salty, making them a great alternative to table salt.
Seaweed Sourcing Tips
- You’ll find seaweed dried in large whole pieces/strands, ground into flakes or powder, or transformed into noodles.
- Given the water pollution in our oceans and the fact that sea vegetables can absorb this pollution, be mindful of where seaweed comes from. Some seaweed is wild harvested and others are farmed – check in with the company you are purchasing from to ensure their seaweed production or collection is sustainable.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has a full report on farmed seafood as a resource. The Ocean Wise program also has some information about farmed and wild seaweed.
Sea Vegetable Recipes
Note: Seaweeds and sea vegetables have a flavour and scent that is ‘of the sea’. Some people find seaweeds fishier tasting than others. However, seaweeds also have an umami taste that adds a unique, rich and delicious flavour to recipes.
*Download printable for the guide to seaweed flavour profiles and best uses.*
Nori: Spicy Sunflower Nori Crackers
Arame: Lemony Herbed Millet with Arame
Wakame: Cucumber Wakame Salad
Agar Agar: Vegan Gummy Fruit Snacks, Vegan Chocolate Mousse
Kelp: Keto Chicken Lo Mein
Dulse: Coconut Dulse Ramen
Kombu: 5 Ingredient Vegan Fish Sauce
Hijiki: Hijiki Tofu Patties