Seaweeds are classified as plants.
Unlike plants on land, algae lack roots, stems, and leaves.
Algae have been used for thousands of years as food and medicine. As is the case with other botanicals, the effects of plants is cumulative and requires time.
The Athlete’s Solution highly recommends edible algae as either a food that is part of meals or taken as a supplement to the diet.
Algae are also useful to athletes trying to shed pounds as well.
Seaweeds or sea vegetables can be green, brown or red.
Green algae (Chlorophyta) live close to the shore.
Brown algae (Phaeophyta) are found somewhat deeper, while red algae (Rhodophyta) live in deep salt water.
Scientists theorize that green algae are the ancestors of modern-day land vegetables.
Like all plants, seaweeds were an obvious choice for local cultures to feed on and use their phytonutrients for healing.
Cultures that live near the sea depend on its fruits.
The Japanese have always depended on the sea. Not only for fish that make up many of their meal but also for her seaweed.
The Japanese harvest these red plants and use them as food. Their use of raw wild fish and seaweed created one of the healthiest diets on the planet. They did what they needed to do. Live off the sea.
The major reason why this is a very healtrhy diet is because of the library of compounds embedded in the skin of the fish (omega-3s) and the phytonutrients from the agae. They are formed when carbon in the pressence of sunlight is used to synthesize the carbohydrates of seaweed.
This universe of compounds includes phycoerythrin and phycocyanin, the pigments that gives red algae its color. It also allows them to live in deeper and colder waters.
Seaweed contains iodine and has been used as a source for drugs including anticoagulants, antibiotics and anti-hypertensive agents.
Sea vegetables are derived from all three types of algae. Some of these algae are believed to contain anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anticancer compounds.
When algae are dried, pressed into sheets and roasted, it is called Nori. Nori is a paper thin sheet of red edible algae.
According to the Japanese, a sheet of nori a day keeps the doctor away. And so, nori is used to wrap sushi or rice balls, added to noodle soups and tossed into salads in the form of flakes.
Nori’s value lies in its high protein content (up to 35% of nori’s dry weight) and its high vitamin C content, which is more than one and a half times that of an orange.
Sea lettuces are green edible algae that are eaten raw in salads and cooked in soups by cultures bound to the sea (Great Britain, Ireland, Japan and Korea.
Kelp are large brown seaweeds or sea vegetables. Kelp grows in underwater forests or kelp forests. The clear and shallow water requires a rich supply of nutrient.
Brown algae contain a carotenoid called fucoxanthin. Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid found in the chloroplasts of brown algae. This provides brown algae with their typical brown to olive-green color. These brown algae are more often classified as protista rather than plants.
Edible kelp or brown algae includes Kombu from the Laminaria japonica and Wakame from Undaria pinnatifida.
Kombu is a Japanese food made from brown algae. Wakame is another Japanese food made from brown algae. Wakame is added to miso soup and salads.
Kombu and Wakame are among the healthiest foods on the planet.
Kanten or agar is derived from Gelidium red algae. Nori on the other hand, is made from Porphyra red algae.
Agar-agar, the Malaysian name for seaweed, is a gelatinous substance commonly called agar (kanten to the Japanese). This polymer is used in many Japanese foods and desserts. Former biology students will remember agar-agar as the material in Petri dishes that tested microbial growth.
In earlier times. Red seaweed, after harvesting, was transported to the mountains where the water in the plant would freeze and separate from the polymer, agarose. Today, these sea plants are freeze dried, dehydrated and packaged into colorless sheets or bars of agar.
Agar is a gelatinous material that consists of long chain polymers of alternating galactose and hydrogalactose sugars. Agarose is the name for this very soluble fiber.
Agarose is an oligosacharide, a chain of sugars linked by bonds between galactose and hydrogalactose subunits. Alternating sugars allow two chains to form a helix so tightly wrapped that water becomes trapped inside its helix.
The amount of water the helix holds and the degree of cross linkage, determines the rigidity of this difficult to digest carbohydrate.
The agarose polymer is needed by the plant to prevent the plant’s cells from collapsing in salt water.
Structurally, agarose is a component of the algae's cell walls. Heating breaks down the crosslinks between chains.
Heating converts the agar polymer into a liquid. Upon cooling, the crosslinks are reformed and an agar gel forms.
Agar is available in bars, flakes, and powders. Its use in a normal Japanese diet provides fiber and represses hunger. This last effect is responsible for its being promoted as a dietary aid.
Agar is high in fiber, which prevents cholesterol from being absorbed in the colon. Agarose is also believed to cause cancer cells to self-destruct, a process known as apoptosis.