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We Should Be Eating Seaweed by the Bucketload

Munchies – August 27, 2014

The slimy stuff isn’t just insanely good for you, it’s the food of the future.

Seaweed has been frequently touted as a future food, something that could help feed our rapidly growing population. There are going to be another 2.5 billion of us by 2050, and as a sustainable food source that is ridiculously vitamin-dense (just ask anyone who necks spirulina like it’s going out of fashion), seaweed might be the big, green, nutritional jackpot.

The global seaweed industry was already valued at $6 billion in 2003. $1 billion of that was attributed to the creation of food enhancers and thickeners, cosmetics, fertilisers and animal feed additives and the remaining $5 billion represented food products for human consumption. Maybe seaweed is already a food of the now and, save our expensive dietary supplements and the silky fronds of wakame we get in our Pret A Manger miso soups, the Western world just needs to catch up with the algae-loving East.

Let’s look at why we should be eating more of the slimy stuff. Dr Craig Rose is the founder of the Seaweed Health Foundation and says, for the individual, the benefits of regular seaweed consumption are clear to see. “Seaweed is the ultimate super food,” he says. “Nothing compares, gram for gram, to the nutritional content of seaweeds. The benefits extend beyond just nutrition to salt replacement and weight management.”

In fact, Rose says the health attributes of seaweed are so broad, that research is “showing benefit for heart health, diabetes and anti-cancer applications.”

Research is finding so many new health benefits to eating seaweed it actually can be hard to keep up with. Only last week, the British Journal of Nutrition published a study showing that seaweed supplements could be an effective alternative for women suffering from iodine deficiency. Before that, seaweed as a potential salt replacement was featured in the Research Council UK’s Big Ideas of the Future document. Next month, a Seaweed Symposium is even taking place, for goodness’ sake. The message is clear–we are being encouraged left, right and centre to turn our guts into oceanic microcosms and fill them with marine algae.

It’s not just individual health benefits that make seaweed such a vital future food resource, though–it’s the benefit to the planet. “Seaweed requires no fresh water, no land (so no competing with other food crops or natural habitats) and no fertiliser,” Rose tells me. “It’s great to be in an industry that offers help to people’s health as well as so much potential to be sustainable.”

Read more from the source: MUNCHIES: Food by VICE