Although they are not an ingredient of Italian cuisine, the use of edible seaweeds in gastronomy has evolved, starting from traditional Chinese and Japanese cuisine, to become a very popular ingredient on our tables. The edible seaweed species are numerous, as are the nutritional benefits they offer to the body. Indeed, each species is rich in specific nutrients such as antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber. In addition, many of them also have an important protein nutritional profile. Additionally, they contain amino acids called glutamates which give seaweed a salty, rich, savory taste known as umami.
Therefore, for those who follow a healthy and balanced lifestyle, regularly integrating them into their diet can only prove beneficial for the body. But which and how many are edible seaweeds? First of all, it is good to know that the varieties of algae to eat are marine ones, i.e. aquatic plants that grow in the sea and oceans. These come in different shapes, sizes and colors and are divided into red algae, green algae or brown algae. So let’s find out the main varieties of edible seaweed, their properties, and their benefits to the body.
Properties And Benefits Of Edible Seaweed
As an edible ingredient, seaweed is often referred to as a superfood. In terms of health benefits, they are very poor in carbohydrates and rich in mineral salts, specifically sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium, and in vitamins, especially vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and B12. We can consider algae vegetables rich in all the nutrients our body needs. They are low in calories and have digestive and detoxifying properties.
Furthermore, unlike fish and crustaceans, marine algae do not seem to assimilate polluting substances such as mercury, also thanks to the algin they contain, a substance which favors the elimination of toxic substances. Trace elements such as iron, calcium and iodine are also present in high quantities in marine algae. For this reason, those suffering from hyperthyroidism should consult their doctor before taking it. Edible seaweeds are allies for the health of our body because they help lower blood cholesterol levels and the well-being of the gastrointestinal system, thanks to their anti-inflammatory properties.
In addition to promoting the immune system and performing a purifying action for blood circulation, edible seaweeds have therapeutic functions related to slowing down the degenerative processes due to aging and activating the metabolism. In this sense, they can be considered allies for weight control. Regular consumption of seaweed is a great help against obesity and obesity, thanks to the presence of mucilages that promote satiety. Furthermore, the high presence of iodine stimulates metabolism, and other enzymes favor the demolition of fats.
Edible Seaweed: The Most Common Varieties
Soft and malleable in water, seaweed is mostly dried for storage, while most of it needs to be rehydrated in a liquid, such as water or broth, before being consumed. Here are some of the kitchen’s most commonly used types of seaweed.
Wakame seaweed, also known as sea mustard, is a dark green seaweed often found in miso soup. They have a sweet taste and a smooth, silky texture and are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Kombu seaweed is one of East Asia’s most popular edible seaweeds and is the main ingredient in miso soup and ramen. It is also steeped in water to make a Japanese tea known as kombucha.
Nori seaweed is well known in Italy, thanks to the spread of Japanese restaurants. They are deep purple-red that turn dark green when dried. Generally, it is roasted and pressed into dried sheets and used to wrap sushi.
Dulse is a reddish seaweed with a soft texture. It has a bacon-like flavor and can be cooked until crisp, making it a popular snack in Canada. Sold in dried flakes, shredded or ground into a powder, this seaweed has a wide range of culinary uses.
Hijiki is a brown seaweed that turns black when dried and looks like small thin twigs. It is obtained from the rocky coasts of China, Japan and Korea and is first boiled and then dried, cooked in a pan or served with fish.
Among the few edible non-marine algae, it is a freshwater alga rich in proteins and vitamins of groups B, A and D. Nowadays. It is widely used in preparing to purify and detoxify food supplements. In addition to tablets, it is also found in powder and the kitchen. It can be used to create condiments with oil or lemon.