Oceans are the basis for life, providing the world with important jobs, nutritious food sources, vacation destinations and an abundance of recreational activities. But what you may not know is that these blue seas give us more than meets the eye. Extracts from marine organisms have been used in medicines for centuries, while sand has been used in building materials for equally as long. And today, seaweed is responsible for providing us with a multitude of uses. It is an important ingredient found in concealers, anti-aging serums, sunscreen, infant formula, toothpaste and certified organic foods.
When it comes to food, we tend to associate the ocean with delicious meals like grilled shark, crab cakes, shrimp scampi, spicy tuna roll and miso soup. Fish make up an important global industry as well as a nutritious food group full of protein, Vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids that are beneficial for brain and heart health. And the seaweed found in your sushi or salad is bursting with proteins, polyphenols and polysaccharides that help fight viruses, obesity and cancer. Not only is this superfood great for your health, but it is also a versatile and eco-friendly product used as a natural food additive in many of your favorite organic snacks.
The seaweed that we eat includes brown, red and green algae. Brown algae produces alginates, which react with water-based products to make them thicker, creamier and more stable. It is found in brownie mix, frozen food, salad dressings and sauces. Meanwhile, green algae’s natural pigment is used in yellow-orange food coloring, so think cheese, coffee creamer, mayo and whipped cream. And finally, red algae produces carrageenan, a natural stabilizing agent used in chocolate milk, cottage cheese, pudding and yogurt.
With processed foods becoming integral in our diet thanks to our fast-paced schedules, we want to grab the quickest nutritious options available. This means that these algaes are more important than ever. They offer a healthful alternative to the artificial or man-made additives that lurk in our favorite cereals. Man-made chemicals, such as BHT (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) can be found in your bread as well as jet fuel and embalming fluid. Meanwhile, the artificial food dyes that make up sports drinks, gelatin desserts and boxed mac and cheese are derived from petroleum, the main ingredient we put into our cars once a week. To put these in perspective, according to the National Academy of Sciences, 90% of chemicals added to foods have not been tested for long-term effects.
The easiest way to avoid these synthetic chemicals, herbicides and pesticides is to go natural. And look no further than our oceans to find small family-run farms producing seaweeds that offer nutrients, vitamins and enzymes while avoiding GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms) and pesticides. Without seaweed-derived carrageenan, your protein shake would separate and taste chalky. But with it, your food’s consistency is smooth, and more important, you know that what you’re putting into your body is a natural and healthy additive that came from our beautiful oceans and not a lab.