Because seaweed could be the food of the future especially for vegans


July 17, 2023 | 4.55pm

This takes green living to a whole new level.

Researchers have found that microalgae, the green goo that forms pond scum during the summer months, is quite good to eat.

Experts have known for years that certain types of seaweed are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Kelp, a seaweed, is just one example.

Among the life-giving ingredients of algae is taurine, recently praised as the elixir of life by a food researcher. Nori, the seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls, is a good source of taurine.

But Alison Smith, professor of plant science at Cambridge University and leader of the just-released study, says the tiny protein-rich organisms found in freshwater lakes and oceans, or microalgae, may have been unjustly neglected.

These microalgae are especially beneficial for vegans, since many plant-based diets lack essential nutrients that algae can provide.

Algae, including marine algae such as seaweed, are good sources of vitamins and minerals, especially for vegans.
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Purely plant-based diets are great on many levels, but they have some shortcomings, and one of the most important of these is a lack of vitamin B12, Smith told the Guardian.

Many vegans would prefer not to have chemical supplements and would like to get their vitamin B12 as a natural part of their diet, Smith added. You can’t get it from plants, but we’ve found that some seaweeds are rich sources of the vitamin.

A lack of vitamin B12 can cause a range of neurological, immune and inflammatory disorders, especially among pregnant women, according to a report in the European Journal of Nutrition.

In addition to B12, microalgae are good sources of essential amino acids, fatty acids such as omega-3, omega-6 and omega-7, as well as vitamins including A, D and E, according to the BBC.

Algae such as spirurlina have been popular supplements among health-conscious consumers for years.

Many health conscious people now use microalgae supplements including spirulina and chlorella. Seaweed-based foods and supplements have been popular for centuries in Asia, home to about nine-tenths of commercial seaweed producers, according to a 2019 study.

And seaweed products are gaining popularity here at home.

New Mexico-based Green Stream Farms, the second-largest open-air seaweed farm in the world, grows seaweed for use in omega-3 nutritional products, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

In addition to human uses, Green Stream Farms algae is also used to provide healthier feed for livestock.

Seaweed has been part of the diet in some parts of the world for centuries.
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While consuming seaweed might seem strange to many people, it’s not the only potential food source that leaves some diners green in their faces.

Food scientists at the University of Queensland in Australia are adding insects such as worms and locusts to a range of specialty foods, including sausage, as well as producing sustainable insect-based livestock feed.

Last year, a senior Russian official suggested his country’s residents may need to develop a taste for meat alternatives such as fly larvae as the country grapples with sanctions over war in Ukraine.

We have to overcome that mental block and then even a black soldier fly larva will be to your taste. You have to make an effort, she added.

The slimy creatures known as mealworms can also be transformed into grubs. South Korean scientists have cooked mealworms, or beetle larvae, to create meat and say it tastes authentic.

Insects are a nutritious and healthy food source with high amounts of fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and high-quality meat-like proteins, said Dr. Hee Cho, project leader of Wonkwang University.

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