Algae are one of the current food trends: algae paste, algae spread, algae wrap – you can see these new sustainable products everywhere. But are they a vitamin miracle?
Have you ever heard of wakame or hijiki? No? Maybe from Chlorella or Spirulina? Instead, isn’t it?
Commonality: It is algae, one of the continuing trend products in the food sector.
In Southeast Asia, about nine million tons of it are consumed annually, with us more, and more foodies and health fans are now discovering seafood. So don’t worry if you’re still “green”:
FIT FOR FUN brings light to the algae jungle for you. Because: The botanist counts an incredible 250,000 types of algae, but only about 20 to 30 have been used economically to date. In countries such as Ireland, Japan, and France, they are now part of everyday life.
We also have coasts on the North and Baltic Seas, but with a low occurrence of algae, which are too difficult to obtain. So the seafood did not make it into the league of peas, cabbage & Co.
The most famous algae in Germany
Good to know: Algae are primarily differentiated by color. There are brown, red, and blue-green types. These are probably the most popular types in Germany:
- A well-known representative of the brown algae mostly comes from the Pacific and is offered dried or pickled. It has an intensely spicy aroma and is the main ingredient of the Japanese dashi broth. Processed into flakes, kelp turns plain rice into a delight!
- Even better known as kelp. Also a brown alga. You may have eaten them at a Korean or Japanese restaurant topping in a miso soup or a salad with sushi.
- The most prominent red seaweed in Europe. Known as the perfect wrapping of maki or temaki sushi rolls.
- It holds rice and fish together and ensures a pleasant sea-spicy taste. Nori cut into beautiful strips also tastes sprinkled over rice or salads.
- Chlorella & Spirulina
- On the other hand, the blue-green microalgae do not end up on the plate but are only used as a dietary supplement. Powdered, they are either pressed into compresses or packed in capsules. Your marketing: Fitters and superfood.
How sustainable are marine plants?
Many researchers recognized a few years ago that algae would be an essential food in the future. But what is behind your potential?
Algae producer Heinz Schelwat explains: “The alga grows everywhere in the water. And very quickly and effectively. It undergoes daily cell division, doubling its volume within 24 hours.
With up to 60 percent oil, the algae family is entertaining as food for the world and as a raw material for biodiesel.” The algae also impress with its frugality, because it grows at depths of up to 100 meters – a light beam is enough for it.
“We should eat more of the lower end of the food chain,” says Schelwat. The higher we get in the food chain, such as meat or fish, the greater the loss of energy. “
Further advantages: algae use practically no natural resources such as water or valuable arable land.
Why are algae so healthy?
Algae are low in fat and rich in top ingredients. As an antioxidant, astaxanthin has a strong skin-protective affect – higher power lost than Vitamin E.
The green dye chlorophyll is also considered a fitness enhancer. What else can you do? They provide valuable omega-3 fatty acids and may even replace fish as a source if the extraction procedures are further improved.
There are also minerals such as iron, magnesium, and iodine.
Be careful, iodine!
It can sometimes be too much. The Federal Office for Risk Assessment (bfr) has found
extremely high iodine levels in dried algae and warns:
An overdose is easily possible (especially with thyroid problems!). The tip: only eat algae with exact nutritional information and adhere to the maximum amounts. The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends a maximum daily intake of 200 micrograms of iodine.
The iodine content of the nori algae is not so high; you can safely enjoy it in moderation!
It is advised that other algae soak them in water beforehand to flush out the iodine or even boil them out. This is particularly recommended for the Kombu algae. 100g of fresh algae contain about 50 micrograms of iodine.
Vitamin B12 from algae ideal for vegans?
Unfortunately, no! Because one thing super plants from the sea cannot do:
Provide vegans with vitamin B12. Although they contain this deficient vitamin, they are so-called analogs that cannot be used by humans.
Keep your eyes open when buying algae!
Like mussels, algae have a high filtering capacity – they bind and accumulate pollutants such as heavy metals (lead, mercury) or pesticides.
This detoxification effect advertised by many suppliers of chlorella or spirulina algae, can, therefore, be reversed if the algae are already contaminated.
Therefore, one should pay attention to the origin and production method. Asian sources are risky. The Japanese hijiki was even noticed as a real arsenic collector.
Better: buy algae from Northern Europe or controlled freshwater farming.
Algae can taste so delicious.
The uses are very versatile. So you can use most algae-like spinach. However, algae are also excellent in a raw salad.
The nori seaweed, which is mainly used for sushi, is also suitable for nibbling.
The Kombu seaweed, for example, is an excellent spice due to its spicy, smoky taste. Crushed over salt as a substitute for salt not only tastes great, it also looks beautiful.
Many algae products, such as algae pasta, algae spread, algae juice, or algae juice, are now available in well-stocked supermarkets, health food stores, and drugstores.