Seaweeds are technically classified as algae – they all photosynthesise as land plants do, but are non flowering and do not have leaves, roots, leaft shoots or sophisticated methods for transporting water and nutrients. This article explores Green seaweeds fully and hopefully inspires you to try it out today!
All seaweeds contain the light harvesting pigment chlorophyll which is synthesised and stored in the seaweed’s cells and gives seaweeds the green colour. Seaweeds also contain other pigments which are used to capture light for photosynthesis or to protect against harmful ultraviolet radiation. The pigments present in seaweeds are used to help classify them into three broad colour groups – red, green and brown. Read on to learn more about the green variety and why you should consider adding them to your diet!
What are Green Seaweeds?
Green seaweeds do contain other pigments but not those which screen chlorophyl. They can be multi-cellular or single cellular algae. They can live in salt or fresh water and prefer nutrient rich waters with high concentrations of phosphates and nitrates (due to pollution). They tend to grow closest to the shore, in shallower waters, and are most closely related to land plants.
There are 1,500-2,000 species of green seaweeds around the world’s oceans (about 140 species in New Zealand). Pacific Harvest stocks Sea Lettuce, a popular green seaweed in the kitchen.
What Nutrients and Minerals Do Green Seaweeds Offer*?
Green seaweeds contain a wealth of minerals & trace elements, many times greater than is found in land-grown vegetables. They offer a good amount of digestible vegetable protein and are an important source of iodine, calcium, iron, enzymes and anti-oxidants. They are a top source of chlorophyll, fibre and Vitamin A, B & C. Each species of green seaweed will offer a different nutrient profile.
What are the Health Benefits of Green Seaweeds?
Sea Lettuce provides a good sources of Iron so is an excellent dietary supplement for anyone with anemia or looking for solutions to add iron-rich foods to their diet. It also offers good levels of Iodine and can have vitamin B12 which has an important role in DNA synthesis. There are a number of journal articles which have been published over the last 20 years which reference green seaweeds (specifically Ulva) in connection with the below health benefits:
- Improve digestion and reduce sugar absorption
- Balancing blood PH
- Antiviral against influenza
- Soothing burns, cuts & sores (apply a compress or poultice) – traditional healing
- Toning, hydrating & nourishing for the skin
- Clear intestinal worms – traditional use.
- Used to treat gout
The ‘ulvan’ compound a sulfated polysaccharide found in Sea Lettuce is being researched for their strong antioxidant, antitumor, anticoagulant & antiviral properties, and there are some indications from laboratory research that sea lettuce seaweed may have a positive impact on weight loss.
How to Use Sea Lettuce in Your Cooking and Baking
Sea lettuce has a grassy, sorrel like and mildly peppery flavour. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate this delicious seaweed into everyday menus:
- Make salsas & pesto served with corn chips or as a garnish
- Sprinkle as a condiment on grains, potatoes or seafood
- Make flavoured butter/spread with sea lettuce, preserved lemon & chilli
- Add to salads, stir-fries, buckwheat or mashed potatoes (insread of parsley for additional colour and flavour)
- Chop into soups, especially nice with root vegetables, squash & grain
- Add to baking or pastries for a surprise sorrel like flavour.
Visit our recipe section for more ideas on how to use Sea Lettuce daily.
Eat the Seaweed Rainbow!
Before we go, whilst we love green seaweeds, we would suggest that eating a range of seaweed colours is optimal as each delivers differnt nutrients and flavours! Experiment with some of our blends which also contain sealettuce – power of three and the furikake seasoning range.
*Note: The nutritional content of seaweeds can vary depending on a number of factors including where they are harvested from, which part of the season they are harvested, how they are dried and more. The indicated minerla and nutrients in this article are gathered from a number of journals and published books on seaweeds over the years are are intended as a guide only. Please refer to specific nutritional panels on each product you purchase for more information.
Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and should be verified by a qualified health practitioner for specific & individual needs & requirements.