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About Seaweeds


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Marine Macroalgae 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 the Japanese.

Sea vegetables 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.

Another kelp, 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 each year.

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.

"Sea vegetables" 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.

Historical documents 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.

Numerous other 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.

According to 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.

Most species 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.


Seaweed Rediscovered ( To view a 8 minute Windows Media Video )

Seaweed: The Miracle of Human Nutrition



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