There’s more seaweed in your food than you think!

Welcome to The Abyss. I’m Jaclyn and this is the second
part in our seaweed series. In this video we’re discussing the many
ways you’re eating and consuming seaweed, some of which you probably didn’t even realize. Let’s dive in. Many people think of seaweed as the gross
slimy stuff that touches your feet when you’re swimming. While this is true, seaweed is also incredibly
important, not just in the ecological sense, but also commercially. It is estimated that the seaweed industry
is worth over 6 billion US dollars, and it is an industry that is continually growing. Of the seaweeds that are grown and harvested
commercially it is mainly different species of red and brown algae. The production of seaweed can range from small
harvesting of wild seaweeds to large industrial aquaculture operations. Mainly seaweed is produced is produced through
aquaculture. Seaweed is mainly produced for use in the
food industry. Seaweed has been part of the human diet for
thousands of years all over the world. It is a traditional food in many Eastern Asian
countries such as Japan, China and Korea. Around 80% of seaweed production is for direct
human consumption. It is eaten for both its nutritional value
as well as used as flavour. One nutritional benefit of seaweed is that
it is high in vitamins, especially vitamins A, B and E. Another nutritional benefit is
that it is high in minerals, which can account for about a third of its total dry weight. They accumulate these minerals from the surrounding
seawater. In particular, seaweed is a great source of
iodine, compared to plants. Nori is by far the largest seaweed product
and the one most people are familiar with. It is mainly eaten as dry roasted sheets,
as well used in the making of sushi. Although you’d never know it by looking at
nori, but it is actually a red seaweed. It is the thallus of species in the genus
Poprhyra. The process of drying and roasting the nori
results in it losing its red colour and giving it the dark green, black colour we are all
familiar with. It is made by shredding and drying out pieces
of seaweed and then forming them into sheets. This process is actually really similar to
how paper is made. Nutritionally similar to all seaweeds nori
has high levels of vitamins and minerals. In particular nori has a high level of protein
which makes up about a third of its dry weight. It also has a really high level of vitamin C,
with about one and a half times the amount of vitamin C of an orange. Another commonly eaten seaweed is wakame,
which is a brown algae. It is the species undaria pinnatifida. It is most commonly eaten and produced in
Korea, Japan and China. In its most popular form it is boiled and
salted. This causes it to be green in appearance instead
of brown. It is then used in seaweed salads, soups and noodle dishes. Much smaller in production and consumption
than nori and wakame is dulse. It is another species of seaweed that is commonly eaten whole as food. Dulse is the species palmaria palmata, which
is a red seaweed. It is found in the northern Atlantic, and
is therefore more commonly eaten in western countries such as Iceland and here in Eastern
Canada. The whole thallus is dried out and is eaten
as a snack. Besides eating the seaweeds themselves, chemicals
extracted from the seaweeds are also widely used in the food industry as well as the industrial,
cosmetic and medical industries. Heat is used to extract the chemicals, called
phycocolloids from the seaweeds. The seaweeds go through extensive processing
to extract the final product. This processing depends on the particular
product, but can include filtration and purification steps. Carageenan and agar are the phycocolloids
extracted from red algae, while alginates are extracted from brown. Carageenan, agar and alginate all have similar
uses as food additives. One of their most common uses is as a gelling
agent where they help to thicken food and give it a smooth consistency. Because of these properties they are found
in a wide range of foods such as puddings, pastry and pie fillings and even this ready-made
cheesecake. Another use for agar, carragennan, and alginates
is as an emulsifier. Emulsifiers are important in helping to stabilize
food and keep them from separating. This is useful in many products such as chocolate
milk, and coffee creamer. Emulsifiers are also incredibly important
in ice cream, without them the water and fat would separate, and result in ice crystals. Agar in particular is able to form a stable
gel in a variety of conditions, such as varying temperatures and humidities. This makes it ideal for a variety of applications
and why it is commonly used as a media in Petri dishes. Consequentially agar is the most expensive
of the phyccolloids. With that I hope you have a new found appreciation
for seaweed, cause without it you could end up with ice crystals in your ice cream. Let me know your favourite food containing
seaweed down below. Mine is definitely ice cream, but I’m pretty
excited to eat all of these foods. Make sure to subscribe to stay current on
our videos and until next tide I will sea you later.


  1. Great job on the video, But did you know that livestock fed seaweed, roughly 20% of their diet, will produce around 50% less methane. Cows being one of the largest producers of methane (a dangerous greenhouse gas, worse than co2) in North America. I thought that was neet.

  2. So did u eat all of the foods?? Also, do we extract those 3 chemicals from other organisms too or even artificially synthesize them?

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