The scientific wonders of seaweed

4개월 전

Seaweed
Image source: Pexels

My childhood memories of seaweed involve trips to the seaside and being washed up in a pool of slimy seaweed that felt disgusting. It didn't feel particularly useful at the time and it always felt a shame to waste the image of a nice seaside coast. In my adult years, I learned to enjoy seaweed when it was wrapped nicely around a sushi roll and I learnt to appreciate that it could be a delicacy.

There are many health benefits to eating some forms of seaweed and in some Eastern cultures, it can be a prevalent part of the diet. Some are classed as superfoods due to their high minerals and nutrient content. In Western cultures, seaweed is not so obviously popular although many do end up ingesting it as it can make a popular food additive.

In more recent time, researchers have found ways of creating a biodegradable polymer that can be used as a plastics that degrade into non-toxic waste that can be recycled into organic waste. The advantage is that it grows saltwater and therefore doesn't fill our limited fresh water supply unnecessarily. It could one day replace a lot of petroleum-based plastic packaging.

A blue paper by Ocean Panel now discusses that 364 million tonnes of animal protein could be provided by the oceans that is more than the two-thirds of the amount needed to feed the world's population. Seaweed would be the crucial enabler to make this happen by quickly providing a source of nutrients for sea life to feed on and thus rebuilding the depleted ocean food source. Artificial habitats can easily be created with low maintenance costs as sea farming of seaweed is much easier than landfarming. It only requires weighted lines seeded with seaweed to be suspended a few metres below the surface. These can quickly be retrieved or moved and they do not require artificial fertilisers.

The seaweed can also balance the ocean and prevent harmful algae from growing. It can therefore be used next to other farms where mussels and oysters are grown and it will balance the ecosystem. To this extent, a 2019 study, estimated that 77 countries could be fed by developing 48 million square kilometres to seaweed farming.

Seaweed can also help in the reduction in the greenhouse gas methane. Research shows that feeding some red seaweed in the diet of cows was able to reduce methane emissions by 67%. Blue Ocean Barns, a California based farm, is not trying to get this approach approved in the US.

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of seaweed to mankind may be the possibility of carbon capture as reported by the New Scientist. The idea being proposed by Tim Flannery from the Australian Museum in Sydney, is that large seaweed-based farms can be created and the seaweed captures CO2 from the atmosphere. It can then be harvested and big bundles can be sunk into the ocean depths. A 2012 study estimated that seaweed forests covering 9% of the oceans could reduce CO2 to pre-industrial levels.

It seems a very lofty ambition and the New Scientist article does point to some potential side effects. However, whether it is plastic alternatives, helping produce more sea-based food, reducing methane emissions or helping capture carbon, the wonders of seaweed are something we are likely to hear more about in the coming years. Personally, I now see seaweed in a new light and not just that disgusting slimy plant that ruined my youthful seaside experiences.

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Currently there is a great trend of this type of food that is made with algae, I have tried some foods with algae and I can say that they taste very good, and after reading other articles about the food properties and the large amount of vitamins that the algae contain that you would be surprised.

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It will be strange for many of us but the health benefits and ease of production seem to make sense. I am sure in years to come it will be seen as more normal.

There are many benefits to seaweed.
The benefits of seaweed that are no less important are helping the wound to heal quickly. Seaweed is rich in vitamin K, and this vitamin coordinates with platelets - a type of cell that can form blood clots. Vitamin K will send chemical signals where platelets collect blood and freeze it, so that when you are injured, the wound will stop flowing. You can choose any type of grass, but keep in mind that Wakame has less vitamin K content.

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The vitamin, nutrient and mineral content is amazing. I hadn't specifically called out vitamin K so thanks for your comment and addition. It is a brilliant source of this vitamin.

Very good your publication, I did not know about those advances, but I know that there are many things that we are not aware of because technology flies!

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I like it in particular as it seems easy to produce in parts of the world that we don't really use - some of the vast oceans. At the same time, it has a positive environmental impact. Seems like a win/win to me.

This shows that there are plenty other natural resources that are being under-looked yet they are very important to humanity. I had also under looked the value that the seaweed can offer to us and our environment. Governments should therefore come up with measures to preserve such natural vegetation in order for us to enjoy the long lasting benefits that they entail.

Thanks so much for sharing. Its a great read.

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Thanks for your comment. Sometimes, we just need to look at things differently and realise there is another way of doing things rather than just repeating what we have always done. Seaweed may seem strange to many but there are so many positive benefits for us to explore it more.

This post has been rewarded by the Steem Community Curation Project. #communitycuration06

This post has been rewarded by the Steem Community Curation Project. #communitycuration07