Seaweeds are classified as algae, although they are often referred to as 'sea vegetables' or 'plants from the sea’. Green seaweeds constitute a major group of all the seaweeds.
All seaweeds photosynthesize, just as land plants do. However, they do not produce flowers, have roots, or systems for transporting water and nutrients. They all contain chlorophyll which is synthesized and stored in the seaweed's cells.
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 color groups – red, green, and brown.
What Are Green Seaweeds?
Green seaweeds do contain other pigments, but not those which screen chlorophyll. 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).
Green seaweeds tend to grow closest to the shore, in shallow waters, and are most closely related to land plants.
There are 1500-2000 species of green seaweeds around the world’s oceans. Maine only has one we harvest and that is Sea Lettuce, a popular green seaweed in the kitchen.
What Nutrients and Minerals Do Green Seaweeds Offer?
Green seaweeds contain a wealth of minerals and 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, enzymes and antioxidants. They are a top source of chlorophyll, fiber, and vitamins A, B, and C. Each species of green seaweed will offer a different nutrient profile.
Sea Lettuce in particular is very high in iron, vegetable protein, iodine, aluminum, manganese, vitamins B-12, calcium, vitamins A, B, C, and nickel. And high in dietary fiber (31%)!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Green Seaweeds?
Sea Lettuce provides a good source of iron, so it’s 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 in connection with the below benefits:
~ Improve digestion and reduce sugar absorption
~ Balancing blood ph
~ Antiviral against influenza
~ Soothing burns, cuts and sores (apply a compress) – traditional healing
~ Toning, hydrating, and nourishing for the skin
~ Used to treat gout
Sea lettuce has a sulfated polysaccharide is being researched for their strong antioxidant, antitumor, anticoagulant and antiviral properties, and there are some indications from laboratory research the Sea Lettuce may have a positive impact on weight loss.
How To Use GreenSeaweeds In Your Cooking And Baking
Sea Lettuce has a grassy, mild peppery flavor ~ an unexpected vibrant taste when compared to the mildness of land lettuce.
Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate this delicious seaweed into everyday menus. Remember use seaweeds as you would any spice or herb!
~ Make salsas and pesto served with corn chips or as a garnish!
~ Sprinkle as a condiment on grains, potatoes or seafood!
~ Make flavored butter/spread with sea lettuce, lemon juice and chili!
~ Add to salads, stir-fries or mashed potatoes (instead of parsley for additional color and flavor)!
~ Chop into soups, especially nice with root vegetables!
~ Delicious in omelets!
~ Can be added to breads, such as focaccia
~ Visit our recipe section on the website for great recipe ideas!
Try our green seaweed and “sea” for yourself!