We would like to clarify, and perhaps intrigue the most traditional palates, on the enormous versatility seaweeds have in the food industry
Although most people consider them as a food derived only from the East, also in Europe seaweeds have been cooked and eaten since ancient times, especially in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Scandinavia, Iceland, as well as in northern Canada. Nonetheless, seaweeds are making a comeback to Western cuisine, thanks to its popularity in Asian cuisine.
Edible seaweeds, what a passion
It has also been discovered that they are one of the vegetable alternatives with the biggest amount of omega 3, fatty acids essential for the proper functioning of our body and to combat cardiovascular diseases. As competitors of fish, they may even be a better eco-friendly solution: just think that herrings, anchovies and other fish accumulate omega-3 acquiring them from the micro algae, which in turn produces it.
The benefits of edible seaweeds
- Proper thyroid function and stimulus to metabolism
- Prevention for cardiovascular health
- Defence against cholesterol, chronic degenerative diseases and the onset of tumours (in particular in the colon)
- Purification action and reactivation of circulation
- Increased immune defences
- Strengthening and growth of bones, teeth, hair and nails.
Lots of seaweeds, lots of flavours
Seaweeds' taste can vary a lot: some are sweeter, others are characterised by a spicy taste; in general, however, all are useful as flavour enhancers.
Among the so-called macro-algae, nori is undoubtedly the best known, especially among lovers of Japanese cuisine: it is in fact the main ingredient of maki, used either as outer(e.g. hosomaki, futomaki, temaki) or inner (uramaki) wrapping. Very rich in protein, up to 50% of its weight, it has a delicate taste, is very versatile and easily workable.
Third in Japan in order of popularity and fundamental ingredient of the traditional miso soup or goma wakame salad, wakame seaweeds belong to the brown algae family. They are a particularly beneficial food for women, thanks to the high content of vegetable calcium and magnesium, which combat osteoporosis, and their diuretic properties, which counteract the accretion of liquids.
The hijiki is a brown alga rich in calcium that goes well with the taste of many vegetables and is the main responsible for, according to the Japanese, their beautiful glossy hair.
Arame seaweed is excellent for sports people, because its potassium content reduces the risk of muscle cramps, and has a sweet taste that makes it suitable for those who approach edible seaweeds for the first time.
As far as micro-algae are concerned, we cannot but cite the already mentioned spirulina and chlorella, which, due to their richness in proteins and essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins they contain, are used as food supplements with prodigious properties.