From the Sea's Garden: 3 Superfoods that Are Super Good for You

Posted On Monday, 28 January 2019
From the Sea's Garden: 3 Superfoods that Are Super Good for You

The seas offer an untapped potential for health and wellness and certain superfoods do not need to grow in soil to be super for your health.

Whether you are fighting the common cold, or wanting to turn back time on those wrinkles, seaweed, sea moss and sea lettuce are three oceanic vegetables that have you covered when it comes to promoting health, longevity and sustainability.

Sometimes referred to as survivor food of the sea, seaweeds contain fiber and other naturally-occurring substances that benefit cholesterol levels and possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well. They are a rich source of several vitamins, including vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, and B vitamins.

Seaweed also offers varying levels of protein depending on type of seaweed you consume. Red seaweed has the most, with up to 50 grams of protein per 3.5 ounces of nori (often used to wrap sushi).

Given the multiple nutrients and phytochemicals found in seaweed, a review paper in Phycologia concluded that manufacturers should make more use of seaweed in food products as a way to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Carrageenan, an ingredient found in red seaweed may be the most valuable seaweed nutrient. Because of its gelling, thickening and stabilizing properties, carrageenan, a natural, plant fiber from red seaweed is an important ingredient used in many foods including yogurt, ice cream, sour cream, cottage cheese, infant formula, coffee beverages, creamers and nutritional drinks. Human clinical research suggests carrageenan may play a role in lowering cholesterol, reducing inflammation and fighting colds and viruses.

A carrageenan extract can also be applied via foliar spray to promote plant growth, seed germination, shoot elongation, root growth and flower production. Researchers in the Philippines have found that it can make plants more resistant to typhoons and boost rice production by 20-30 percent.

Sea Lettuce
Sea lettuce is a kind of aquatic plant that can be found around the world. It has many health benefits including aiding in weight loss (100 grams of sea lettuce contains 130 calories, is high in fiber and low in fat). The high soluble fiber content of sea lettuce also slows down the rate at which food is digested, helping to balance and regulate the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream.

Sea lettuce can be added to broth along with vegetables, miso and tofu to make a delicious Japanese soup. When soaked and cooked with beans, the minerals and salt content of sea lettuce makes it easier to digest the beans. Once dried it becomes very flaky in texture and makes for a great topping for foods.

Sea Moss
Known as ogonori, sea moss is a source of collagen and a critical building block for youthful skin. As a person ages, their body produces less collagen, which leads to wrinkles so consuming ogonori could buy your skin more time!

Other health benefits include being a good source of iodine, which is important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland; reducing inflammation; optimizing the immune system (it’s loaded with vitamin C); and bolstering the body with fiber to avoid constipation. Ogonori is typically eaten cold and tossed into a soup or salad.

These sea vegetables come in an array of varieties, beyond the obvious forms. You can even purchase seaweed chips as a snack. Plus, you don’t have to be an ocean farmer to grow your own ocean veggies. Hydroponic gardens can be purchased in a self-contained, compact, indoor garden kits that allow you to grow a variety of nutritious vegetables, herbs and fruits hydroponically at home including spinach, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, kale, strawberries, mint, basil and more. Search online for AeroGarden and just add water!

Gail Barnes, PhD

Gail Barnes, PhD, is a technology and sustainability expert who has consulted with companies worldwide on product sustainability innovation with composting and recycling strategies, as well as navigating food safety and regulatory processes and procedures and advising on consumer insights and evolving trends. She began her career as a high school teacher, and her corporate career with Unilever in South Africa.

Barnes’ passion for sustainability and the environment has led to her work in several global environmental initiatives including the development of packaging to protect the nutritional value and taste of food. Her career has helped her gain insight on industry technology issues and consumer trends and education practices.

South African born and educated, Barnes is multilingual and has a Master of Science degree in biology and a Ph.D. in applied chemistry - food science from the University of Natal. She earned her master of business leadership from the School of Business Leadership at the University of South Africa. Barnes also volunteers for the U.S. Composting Council.

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