You can have an impact on an individual and global scale, starting with what you put on your plate and beyond. Take seaweed, for example. If you’ve ever enjoyed seaweed wrapped around your favorite fish in sushi, it’s still not very well known in the West. However, the cultivation of algae could change this in the very near future. Read on to find out why seaweed just might be the next sustainable superfood.

Why seaweed is important

As far as humans are concerned, research conducted in 2020 indicates that algae may have played a role in the evolution of mankind from Homo erectus to Homo sapiens, and served as a staple food. in times of famine. Evidence indicates that seaweed was used as food and medicine in Asia, Europe and South America at least 14,000 years ago. The Romans and Celts may have used seaweed to enrich infertile soils. However, it’s not just this rich global history that makes seaweed so interesting as a modern food crop. They provide a host of other benefits, from job creation to ecosystem restoration.

Algae could even be the future of food. This is largely due to seaweed aquaculture, also known as seaweed farming.

Environmental Benefits of Seaweed Farming

The systematic cultivation of seaweed can be a viable solution to several challenges, from clean ocean water to economic stimulation. Growing algae requires little to no resources
Seaweed is a zero-input crop and leaves the ocean healthier with each harvest.

The cultivation of algae requires:

no arable land
no pesticides
no herbicide
no food
no fresh water

Algae are what is known as a “non-fed” aquaculture species, which means that they generally do not need to be provided with additional nutrients for them to grow. It simply uses the nutrients present in seawater.

Seaweed farming promotes healthy oceans

The ocean absorbs around 30% of the carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere. This leads to changes in the pH of the oceans and an increase in acidity, which negatively impacts fish, corals and shellfish such as oysters, crabs and sea snails. These organisms are an important of the ocean food chain. Fortunately, algae capture carbon and nitrogen from ocean waters, helping to reduce ocean acidification. They also provide habitat for a number of organisms living in the oceans, thus contributing to the diversification of ocean ecosystems.

Seaweed farms:

reduce the amount of carbon in the ocean
reduce the acidity of ocean waters
provide habitat for species living in the ocean
diversify ocean ecosystems.
Also, seaweed farms aren’t just good for the ocean. It appears that seaweed farms can help mitigate wave energy and reduce erosion and other shoreline effects.

The health benefits of seaweed

When it comes to the health benefits of seaweed, the list is quite long.


For starters, seaweed is known to be an excellent source of iodine. They also have slight nutritional variations depending on the type of seaweed. For example, kelp is a large brown seaweed found on shallow coastal fronts where the salt water is rich in nutrients.

In 100g of raw kelp you will find:

55 percent of the daily value (DV) of vitamin K1
45% of the daily value (DV) of folate
29 percent DV of magnesium
16% DV of iron
13% of the daily value of vitamin A
13% DV pantothenic acid
13% DV of calcium
Note: The above DVs are for an average male.
Kelp is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet.

Wakame is a seaweed that has been cultivated for centuries in Korea and Japan.

Two tablespoons, or 10 grams, of raw wakame contain:

280 percent of the DV of iodine
7 percent DV for manganese
5 percent DV for folate
4 percent DV for sodium
3% of the NA for magnesium
2% of the NA for calcium

Other types of algae include:

Nori, a red seaweed used to roll sushi and often sold in dried sheets.
Sea lettuce, a type of green nori often eaten raw in salads or cooked in soups.
Kombu, a type of kelp used to make soup stocks or pickles.
Arame, a type of soft kelp with a firm texture, sometimes used in baking.
Dulse, a red seaweed used to add flavor to recipes and eaten as a snack.
Chlorella, a freshwater algae often used as a powdered supplement.
Agar and carrageenan, gelatinous substances used as binders and thickeners of vegetable origin.

Some research shows that seaweed often has bioactive compounds that provide different benefits.

These compounds include in particular

proteins with essential amino acids
polyunsaturated fatty acids

Medicinal uses

Seaweed has been found to have a number of medicinal benefits, including the following

protection against cell damage

Several compounds found in seaweed have been shown to have therapeutic potential. According to a 2021 study, certain compounds in seaweed have been shown to be able to induce cancer cell death and fight metastasis.

Do algae have any drawbacks?

Although algae is a veritable goldmine for human and planetary health, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Too much iodine is not a good thing

Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, but how much? According to a 2021 study, eating seaweed once or twice a week probably isn’t dangerous. However, regular consumption of iodine-rich seaweed, such as kelp, could lead to excessive iodine consumption. Excess iodine can have a negative effect on thyroid function, especially in people with pre-existing thyroid disorders, pregnant women and infants.

Impacts of farming

Not everything is necessarily positive in the field of algae cultivation. There are also possible negative effects, such as an increase in the number of cultivation gear in the water, which could lead to things like pollution from abandoned or lost gear.

Seaweed Frequently Asked Questions

Are algae a vegetable?

Yes, seaweed is nutritionally a vegetable. They are full of nutrients such as iodine, vitamins and minerals. Technically, seaweed is a type of sea vegetable.

How are algae used in food?

They can be used for sushi wraps, to flavor soups and stews, and to thicken sweets and sauces. They are also used in fertilizers, cosmetics, fuels and animal feed.

What are the benefits of seaweed? Is dried seaweed good for health?

Seaweed is a nutrient-dense food that contains significant amounts of iodine, folate, magnesium, iron, vitamin A, pantothenic acid, and calcium. Both fresh and dried seaweed offer these nutritional benefits.

Do algae have side effects?

Seaweed is generally considered a healthy addition to a balanced diet. However, the high levels of iodine in seaweed can lead to thyroid problems, especially in people with pre-existing thyroid conditions, pregnant women, and infants.

Can we eat seaweed every day?

Seaweed is rich in iodine, and excessive amounts of iodine can lead to thyroid problems. Consumers are recommended to consume seaweed only once or twice a week.

How to use seaweed in recipes?

Use seaweed as a wrap, garnish, salad ingredient or flavor source.

What is seaweed extract?

Seaweed extract is a biostimulant, also called fertilizer, extracted from seaweed. It is often used to stimulate the growth of plants, seeds and crops.

Take away

Are algae the superfood of the future? They certainly have the potential. Only time will tell if seaweed becomes a waste-free staple food crop that contributes to human and planetary well-being.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.