Seaweed facts

No planet B poster picture

"You can help us to achieve our goals, not by thinking about what we do today, but by the way we approach and treat our tomorrows" -  Alec Watt

   For centuries, the people of Ireland have consumed seaweeds for nutrition. In modern times, Irish researchers at Teagasc (the national Irish agriculture and food development authority) have researched bioactive components from seaweed grown off their Atlantic Coast.  These bioactive components enhance properties of food and provide health benefits. One of these properties is the prevention of moisture loss in prepared foods by seaweeds. This impacts texture, flavour and consumer acceptability.  Although the vitamin and mineral nutritional benefits of seaweeds have been known for centuries, more emphasis now is focused on seaweed as an alternative protein source. 

This is vital to our planet that cannot continue sustainably to provide protein through meat or soy products.  

Furthermore, seaweed has been shown to have renin-inhibitory peptides (proteins) that influence heart disease and blood pressure. Betaine is an amino acid protein also found in seaweeds that is beneficial for the body.

 In the food industry, proteins from seaweeds are used for emulsification, gelation, foaming, solubility and water binding properties.  The emulsification and water binding properties are what preserve moisture in most foods. In addition, seaweeds are high in dietary fibre.

 Research on dietary fibre content of Himanthalia Elongata (sea spaghetti), has shown that it reduced fat and water loss during cooking of meats. As a result, hamburger patties became more tender and juicy. In the blog “Umami, that’s good”, I emphasized how seaweeds enhance umami flavour. Restaurant chains, such as Umami Burger, capitalize on this concept.  Now, there is further reason to add seaweeds to hamburgers to make them juicier.

 Teagasc has assessed the effects of dulse protein on the moisture content, ash, crude fat, fibre and protein content in bread products . As with hamburgers, proteins in dulse can prevent moisture loss in baked goods also. Dulse also contains a dipeptide protein that inhibits renin in the body and thus, can lower blood pressure and the risk for heart disease. The renin-inhibiting peptides (hydrolysates) from dulse were also demonstrated to survive the baking process in wheat bread. Imagine sinking your teeth into a warm, moist, piece of dulse bread and lowering your blood pressure at the same time?

Seaweeds contain betaine, an important amino acid in the body that (by lowering homocysteine levels) fights heart disease and helps promote muscle gain and fat loss. This property is currently being promoted in sports performance products.

There is more to our seaweed than meets the eye, did you know that :- Seaweed can be made into an edible plastic, an alternative to plastic water bottles?

If seaweed is fed to cattle it reduces the amount of methane they produce, methane from intensive beef and milk farming contribute to global warming.

Carrageenan, made from seaweed, is highly sort after in western societies where it is especially important in the dairy industry. Milkshakes, cheese, yoghurt and powdered milk (including baby formula) all possess red seaweed carrageenan extracts. Carrageenan is also used in toothpaste, cosmetics, shampoos, paints and pet food. 

Freshly picked red dulce seaweed

© Green Ocean Farming UK