Seaweed and their environment
Growing in a different medium/realm, they have a unique physiology & chemistry. Seaweed descriptions also use a different set of words to describe them. Seaweeds are the most ancient plants on earth; algae are the source of much of Earth's oxygen. Algae are also very important ecologically because they are the beginning of the food chain for other animals. They carry the goodness of the sea to your blood !
Some seaweeds are microscopic, such as the phytoplankton that live suspended in the water column and provide the base for most marine food chains. Some are enormous, like the giant kelp that grow in abundant “forests” and tower like underwater redwoods from their roots at the bottom of the sea. Most are medium-sized, come in colors of red, green and brown. Their essence includes tenacity, flexibility, endurance, cyclical balance and
oneness with all energies.
Seaweed - a misnomer
The name “seaweed” is really a misnomer, because a weed is a plant that spreads so profusely it can harm the habitat where it takes hold. More recently, as their benefits are getting better understood, seaweeds are also called 'sea vegetables' or 'ocean vegetables'.
They are – THE OTHER SEAFOOD - we are used to the animal side of seafood, but what about the vegetation?
For centuries they have had an esteemed place in the diet of coastal communities around the world but they are a huge part of the diet in Asia, especially in Japan (over 15%). It is quickly gaining popularity elsewhere, thanks to the availability of sushi which has broken down some of the reservations un-initiated might have once had.
Sea plants physiology is different to their land counterparts:
- do not have roots, they anchored to rocks or the seabed through a holdfast
- do not have stem or branches, but a stipe
- do not have leaves, instead they have blades - cut blades are called fronds
- bladders are present in some species
Wakame parts (image below) are used to various purposes in a wide range of dishes. It is important to note that the vocabulary applied to sea plants is quite different to that of the land plants. It is helpful to know it to better understand information on the label.
Sea plants chemistry is also very different:
- best source of iodine (& essential co-factors) in nature
- they are much more concentrated in nutrients (10-20 times)
- they have all 5 essential nutrients necessary to a healthy diet protein, carbs, fat (albeit extremely low), chelated minerals, all vitamins (incl B12) as well as prebiotic fibre
- they have unique compounds that are being studied for their tremendous health-giving properties
- at the extreme of the alkaline food scale