(Chromista, Plantae, Protista, Fucaceae)
All seaweeds are algae, but not all algae are seaweeds. Seaweeds are easily visible, made of many cells and grow in the sea and there are red, brown and green types. Many algae, such as diatoms, are microscopic and consist of a single cell. Seaweed and algae have been harvested for food in China from at least 550 AD and in Japan as early as 1000 AD. New Zealand has around 850 native algae, a third of which are very common and the Māori traditionally use species of red and green seaweed as food.
Marine algae have more concentrated nutrition than vegetables grown on land especially minerals that have been leeched from the soil due ot intense farming techniques and chemical use. There are hundreds of types of edible algae and more are being discovered all the time. Some types have more calcium than cheese, more iron than beef and more protein than eggs, plus both algae and seaweed are rich sources of other nutrients and minerals especially vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K and, unusually for plant foods, also contains vitamin B12 which makes it a good choice for vegans, vegetarians, the elderly, those with liver disorders and those that drink alcohol regularly or take medications as these often deplete the body of vitamin B12.
Find out more about the nutrients in algae
The consumption of algae is becoming increasingly popular in the west as a highly nutritious food rich in minerals from the sea as land based crops have become increasingly lacking in minerals due to intense farming techniques. It also has properties that are able to chelate (bind to) heavy metals, such as mercury, and expel them from the body which can be consumed through eating certain types of contaminated deep-sea ocean fish. Taking a tablespoon of algae powder a few times a week can not only help to remove heavy metals from the body, which can protect against dementia and related disorders such as Alzheimer’s
disease, multiple sclerosis and Parkinson's disease, but also provide many minerals and vitamins often lacking in the modern diet.
Read more about the conditions algae can protect against and help to treat:
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