Some Interesting Facts & Information on Seaweed

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Okay, we get it. Seaweed might not be the most interesting thing in the world. However, there are many interesting facts to learn about this natural wonder. In addition to this, it has many uses you’ve likely never heard of before, both inside and outside of the kitchen. Get ready to spend a little time with us and boost your knowledge of and appreciation for seaweed.

Technically, speaking, seaweed is a form of sea algae that lives and grows by the seabed, but is frequently washed ashore. It is often quite close to the shore already, as it needs steady objects to cling to as well as an adequate amount of sunlight in order to perform the photosynthesis that it undergoes in order to feed itself. Most types of seaweed will fall into three larger categories – brown algae, red algae, and green algae. It is the seafood belonging to the red algae group that has the ability to best grow in deeper ocean waters.

Seaweed has several important commercial uses, and for this reason, it is both gathered by boat and raised on seaweed farms. Seaweed’s uses are many, with the bulk of its usage going toward the areas of food, fertilization, herbal medication and water filtration1.

The filtration purposes of seaweed are fairly simple and basic. Because of its ultra-efficient photosynthesis abilities, seaweed has the capacity to pull in nutrients with ease and remove unwanted ones from surrounding waters that can adversely affect other plants and animals living in the same area. The main elements and nutrients that seaweed helps to filter are ammonia, ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, copper, iron, and carbon dioxide1.

Seaweed also sees regular use as a medicinal herb. Due to its ability to quickly create a feeling of satiety in the human stomach, seaweed extract is a key ingredient in many different kinds of diet pills. It is also a great source of iodine, which is key in treating diseases of the thyroid and various thyroid health issues. Off the coast of Prince Edward Island, a special kind of red seaweed referred to as Irish moss is zealously collected by residents and sold for a nice profit. It is useful as an ingredient in organic toothpaste, soaps and as fodder for decoration by artisan craft makers2.

As previously mentioned, seaweed also is used frequently for crop fertilizing purposes. It is often used in organic gardens, most notably in Europe and along the southernmost points of South America. It also sees use in ¬†mulch blends and compost heaps. Another helpful quality seaweed brings to garden is the repelling of worms. Worms can’t stand seaweed and refuse to live anywhere that contains the stuff.

Now we’ll get to the part that you’ve all been waiting for – seaweed and its use as a source of food. Edible seaweed comes in all three algae color forms – red, green and brown. In most cases, the seaweed that winds up as a form of food is of the green variety. It is important to note that only saltwater seaweed should ever be used as food, since freshwater seaweed is often highly toxic.

Seaweed is eaten in nearly every coastal country in the world as well as many inland countries. Even though it sees use worldwide, it is especially popular in Asian countries. We’ll be sharing an Asian-style seaweed soup recipe with you a bit later on in this article.

Dried, roasted seaweed is often packaged for sale and can be found in most any supermarket in the United States. This is a nice, healthy, low-fat snack that has a satisfying oceanic taste, heavy in salt and with a satisfying crunch. It’s kind of like the potato chip of the ocean. You’re also likely to find dried seaweed in block form in most health food stores. These need to be soaked for a while and doctored up a bit before making for a suitable snack or meal item.

In Japan, as well as in many other countries in the Far East, sheets of dried seaweed are a popular soup ingredient and are also used for the purpose of making sushi. Sushi-wrapping seaweed, also known as Nori, is available for purchase in many stores right here in the USA. In addition to its great taste and versatility, seaweed offers many health benefits to those who eat it. It is a food that is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and calcium. It is also rich in iodine, which as we previously mentioned, is key to promoting good thyroid health.

Now that we’ve shared a little bit of seafood facts and usage insights with you, we’ll also share with you a delicious recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com called Korean Style Seaweed Soup.

Ingredients: 1 one-ounce package of dried brown seaweed, 6 cups of water, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1.5 tbsp of soy sauce, 2 tsp of sesame oil and 1/4 lb of minced top sirloin ground beef3.

Directions:

1. Cover the seaweed in water and soak until soft. Once softness has been achieved, drain any excess water and cut the seaweed into 2-inch strips.

2. Combine the beef, sesame oil, 1/2 tbsp of soy sauce and a small amount of sauce in a pan. Set the range to medium-high heat and cook for one minute.

3. Stir in the seaweed and add in the remaining soy sauce. Cook for another minute, stirring well throughout.

4. Add 2 cups of water to the pan and heat until the mixture is boiling.

5. Add the garlic and 4 other cups of water and stir well.

6. Continue to heat until the soup is again boiling and then cover the pot and allow to simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

7. Add salt to taste and then pour the soup into four bowls. Serve and enjoy!3

Works Cited

1. Author Unavailable
Seaweed
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seaweed/

2. Author Unavailable
Harvests of PEI
http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/sgc-cms/expositions-exhibitions/recoltes-harvests/moss_e/index.html/

3. Lee, Eunah
Korean Style Seaweed Soup
AllRecipes.com
http://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/korean-style-seaweed-soup/

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