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    When most of us read the words “plant-based diet,” we think of kale salad and grain bowls or modern meat alternatives. But there’s one meatless option that’s gaining ground as the latest superfood: seaweed.

    Seaweed, yes, the brown-green ribbons and packets of marine plant matter that wash up on beaches, are indeed edible. Nori, the paper sheets used to wrap sushi rolls and as a garnish for bowls of ramen, is perhaps the most famous and most enjoyed seaweed, but this large, leafy seaweed comes in hundreds of colorful varieties. Comes in varieties, including wakame, kombu, red. Dal and sugar. Kelp

    Seaweed helps support other marine life and cleans the water around it. When it’s out of the water, it can add more nutrients and minerals to our diet.

    “Even though we try to eat healthy, we rely mostly on land-based agriculture,” said Sarah Redmond, founder and owner of Spring Tide Seaweed in Goldsboro, Maine. “Seaweeds are a really interesting alternative because they provide nutrients that are really hard to find in other land plants.”

    With many companies bringing seaweed-based foods to market, enjoying the ocean is getting easier. Here we can all benefit from seaweed.

    Good for humans and the environment.

    For humans, seaweed is a one-stop shop for our vital nutritional needs. “Seaweed is an excellent source of dietary fiber and minerals,” said Mary Ellen Kamer, a professor of superfood science and human nutrition at the University of Maine.

    Although the nutritional profiles differ slightly between the green, brown, and red varieties, in general, seaweed contains several vitamins, including B, C, E, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, amino acids, Polyphenols, and according to a recent study, 10 times more minerals than land plants. These essential minerals include iron, calcium and iodine.

    “Seaweed has the ability to concentrate all the trace minerals in the ocean that we can’t access,” Redmond said. “They are a balanced diet where we can put some of these trace elements back into our bodies and our diet.”

    And when used as a fertilizer for agriculture on land, seaweed can add these essential nutrients to the soil, improving its health.

    However, you don’t need to fill your plate with algae as they can absorb large amounts of minerals. “Some brown algae, such as seaweed grown in New England, are high in iodine,” Kemmer said. “They are so high in iodine that consumers are advised not to eat them more than three times a week.”

    Because concentrations of certain nutrients in seaweed can interact with many medications, check with your doctor if you have thyroid disease or take blood thinners before starting.

    Seaweed is as beneficial to aquatic systems as it is to our personal health. Carbon sequestration may be the buzzword of the moment in the fight to mitigate the climate crisis, but seaweed has been doing it naturally all along. “Algae take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and use it to produce more carbohydrates,” Kemmer said. “We’re not sure how long it will take for seaweed farming to have a significant impact on global warming, but it helps.”

    Seaweed also works as a component of regenerative aquaculture by using up nitrogen and phosphorus, two elements that can damage the ocean when present in large amounts. “The reefs also provide a place for small marine creatures to hide from predators,” Kemer said, “establishing refuge environments that can help restore diverse marine life in overexploited habitats.”

    Even better: seaweed doesn’t need fertilizers or pesticides to grow in the ocean, whether it’s grown there or harvested from the wild.

    How to add seaweed to your daily diet

    Well, now you can be sure that algae is worth a try. But there’s no need to find it, not that you want to. Make sure the seaweed products you’re buying are certified organic or tested for heavy metal content, Kemmer said, because “some types of seaweed contain heavy metals like cadmium, lead and arsenic. is more likely.”

    Besides eating lots of temaki rolls and packaged seaweed snacks or adding more nori sheets to your ramen, there are several ways to incorporate edible seaweed into your eating routine.

    Springtide Seaweed air-dries seaweed and grinds it into a powder for seasonings like Italian seaweed and red bay seasoning, which can be sprinkled on everything from popcorn to garlic bread. Add dried kelp ribbons to soups, stews, or any dish where you sauté kale and other leafy greens. “We try to put seaweed in a form that’s easy to consume and people’s diet,” Redmond said. Join me.”

    Do you want your seaweed for breakfast? Atlantic Sea Farms, another Maine kelp producer, incorporates diced kelp into frozen smoothies with antioxidant-rich fruits like blueberries and cranberries. If you’re feeling spicy, try some of these seaweed-based kimchi. To turn up the heat, add some Alaskan Barnacle superfood Kelp Hot Sauce.

    Or if you prefer to grill your seaweed, Aqua makes seaweed and ground seaweed burgers that can be made into meatballs, used in tacos, or anywhere ground beef is often served. appears in the menu.

    You can even get a seaweed-satisfying sweet tooth in the form of seaweed chocolate bars (plain or with chips) or by making your own chocolate chip cookies that incorporate powdered seaweed.

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