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are among the oldest plants on earth. Their value to the marine environment
is equalled only by their value to us. With applications in nutrition,
fertilization, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food processing, and biotechnology,
the seaweeds offer a broad spectrum of products and benefits.
Seaweed plays a great role in the sea ecosystem. Many of the seaweeds are edible and they are given a more close to life name of sea vegetables. Seaweeds are also ocean herbs because they have functions of healing illness. In macorbiotic eye, it is a heathy diet. So seaweed is not a weed in this sense, but actually flower of the sea. ( Enjoy pictures of seaweeds and dishes )
Seaweed as a
staple item of diet has been used in Japan and China for a very long
time. In 600 BC, Sze Teu wrote in China, "Some algae are a delicacy
fit for the most honoured guests, even for the King himself."
Some 21 species are used in everyday cookery in Japan, six of them
since the 8th century. Seaweed accounts for some 10% of the Japanese
diet and seaweed consumption reached an average of 3.5 kg per household
in 1973, a 20% increase in 10 years (Indergaard 1983). Most important
are Nori (Porphyra species), Kombu (Laminaria
spp.), and Wakame (Undaria spp.). In the west, seaweed is largely
regarded as a health food and, although there has been an upsurge
of interest in seaweed as food in the last 20 years, it is unlikely
that seaweed consumption there will ever be more than a fraction of
are among the richest sources of vitamins on earth and retain a concentration
of minerals, fibres and proteins.
Nori is high
in proteins, iron and phosphorus and contains vitamins A and B12.
The amino acids in Nori are similar to those found in eggs and fish.
The nori that we supply is scientifically named
as Porphyra yezoensis.
Kombu or Kelp,
is a brown seaweed very rich in iodine. It is high too in potassium,
calcium, iron, and magnesium and also contains a highly important
level of trace elements such as zinc, copper and manganese. The
species we supply is Laminaria japonica.
The taste of
wakame is similar to an oyster flavour, suited to soups and salads.
It is rich in sodium, iron, potassium, calcium (15 times more than
milk!) and vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, B12. The
species we supply is Undaria pinnatifida.
Hijiki is a kind
of alga plant which long grows in the shallow sea. It belongs to the
gulfweed section of the brown alga which has extreme value on medicine
and food. In China it distributes in the Yellow Sea and East Sea.
The species we supply is Sargassum fusiforme.
The use of kelps
("kombu" in Japan; "haidai" in China) dates back
to at least the 5th century in China (Tseng 1980, 1982). The main
species used is Laminaria japonica (Laminariales),
but 8-11 other species are used also, mainly in Japan. Plants are
dried after harvesting and either cut into strips or powdered. In
Japan, kombu is used in the preparation of fish, meat dishes, soups
and also as a vegetable with rice. Powdered kombu is employed either
in sauces and soups or is added to rice in the same way as curry.
Some kinds are used in making an infusion similar to tea. In 1976,
about 176,000 wet tonnes of Laminaria spp. were collected from wild
sources in Japan and about 22,000 t were cultivated. Laminaria is
cultivated either by seeding blasted areas of rocky shores or by seeding
ropes. In China, Laminaria japonica was imported from Japan from the
5th century until the founding of the People's Republic. In the early
1950s, the Chinese started to cultivate this species, which had been
accidentally introduced from Japan to Dalian on the Yellow Sea.
Undaria pinnatifida (Laminariales), is
widely used in Japan (where it is known as "wakame")
and China ("qundai-cai") as food. In Japan this species
is a more important crop than Laminaria both in value and production
(Tseng 1982). Natural production increases were achieved for many
years by placing stones on the sea bottom and blasting rocky reefs
to increase the area suitable for attachment. Artificial seeding is
carried out on cleared areas using either zoospore suspensions or
sporophylls (specialised leaflets which bear the zoosporangia). Annual
production from natural habitats in 1960-69 was 40 - 60,000 wet tonnes.
Rope cultivation has been carried out since 1955 and the ropes are
seeded by attaching sporophylls. Hybrids with superior growth and
nutritional characteristics have been developed in Japan. In 1976,
about 20,000 wet t were collected from wild sources and 127,000 wet
t were cultivated. The harvested algae are dried after washing in
freshwater. After resoaking the plant material is used as an additive
to soups (wakame soup is served with virtually every meal in Japan);
toasted (Yaki-wakame); used half resoaked, with boiled rice; and coated
in sugar and tinned (Ito-wakame).
In China, Undaria
pinnatifida was collected from natural habitats for centuries, mainly
on the East China Sea coast. Plants are grown now on ropes in the
Quingdao and Dalian areas (Yellow Sea), to where the algae were transplanted
from Korea and, perhaps, Japan (Tseng 1982). Undaria is not as popular
as Laminaria in China as a foodstuff and the growers find the plants
difficult to manage. The annual production in China is, therefore,
very low, amounting to no more than a few hundred tonnes in dry weight
Nori is a red
alga, Porphyra spp. (Bangiophyceae). Since the 17th century Japanese
fishermen have planted either bamboo or brushwood ("hibi")
in shallow waters to increase the substratum for nori. The hibi were
placed in rocky areas in the autumn where the Porphyra spores settled
and were then moved to sandy areas for the growth of the leafy plants
in the winter. The discovery, in 1949, of the filamentous Conchocelis-phase
in the life history of Porphyra by the British phycologist, K. M.
Drew-Baker, led to the seeding of ropes from artificially-cultivated
Conchocelis-phases. In 1977, some 300,000 t wet weight of Porphyra
spp. were harvested in Japan and the production volume increased by
25% per annum in the 1970s. Nori is sold in sheets that may be toasted
to give a green colour and then flaked and added to sauces, soups
and broths. Sometimes it is just soaked and eaten. Small, dry nori
sheets are used to wrap cold rice balls, which make a popular lunch-time
snack for Japanese children. The food value of nori lies in its high
protein content (25-35% of dry weight), vitamins and mineral salts,
especially iodine. Its vitamin C content is about 1.5 times that of
oranges and 75% of the protein and carbohydrates are digestible by
humans, which is very high for seaweeds.
are seaweed, marine algae, which are not only edible but actually
beautiful and delectable. Packed with nutritional and healing properties
needed now as never before, sea vegetables are rapidly moving from
Asian cultures, where for centuries they have been regarded as food
for Kings and Gods, into the natural foods and even gourmet cuisine
markets of the Western world.
show that algae were consumed by the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Polynesians,
Hawaiians, Europeans, North and South Americans, Africans, and Australians.
According to recent surveys, people living in areas where large quantities
of algae were consumed were to have lived longer and had a lower incidence
of hypertension and arteriosclerosis.
medical benefits are also attributed to a variety of specific algal
forms. Bladderwrack (fucus sps.) has been successfully employed for
obesity, fatty degeneration of the heart, stomach and intestines,
and has been used externally for the healing of wounds. Fucus extract
has also been found effective for numerous respiratory complaints,
dyspnea, and has been used successfully as a replacement for Synthroid
for thyroid problems and as an alternative replacement as a blood
anticoagulant with an effect to that of the drug Heparin. Warm water
extracts from various species of Sargassum and the sulfated polysaccha
ride fraction of Codium pogniformis have proven antitumor properties.
Chrondria littoria has been found to contain fatty acids that have
a wide spectrum of antibacterial and antifunfal actions. Digena simplex
and Aasidum helminthocorton have been successfully used for the elimination
of pinworms and roundworms. It has also been observed that the laxative
action from the above two species also has application in a treatment
for hard fibromas. Controlled studies of Spirulina suggests that it
promotes self-healing abilities and is proven useful for allergies,
anemia, liver disease, diabetes, pancreatitis , visual complaints,
senility, heavy metal poisioning and in the recovery from radiation
and chemotheapuetic treatments of cancer.
the World Health Organization (WHO) certain forms of blue green algae
are a proven source of beta carotene, vitamin B12, gamma linolenic
acid and protein. In addition, WHO has used spirulina in its feeding
programs for malnourished children in India: It found that consumption
of 1 gram of spirulina daily resulted in decreased incidence of Bitot's
spot, a form of blindness caused by vitamin A deficiency. The daily
dose provided beta carotene that increased vitamin A levels.
of algae are flavorful but many people who are not familar with their
somewhat slippery texture may find them somewhat difficult to adjust
to at first. This is a result of the conditioning of our modern palate
that is biased to a limited species of land plants. With time, however,
one can soon learn to love these ancient plants that contain valuable
numerous trace elements that are sorely lacking in our modern diet.
Algae can be added to soups, mixed in with salad greens, steamed or
sauteed with land vegetables, dried and made into table condiments,
or deep fried like chips.
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