Who’s eating sea greens?
In 2019, experts predict that we’ll be diving into greens from the sea that go beyond the expected. With the societal change in attitude towards vegan fare — or plant-based, as some prefer to say — and the notable increase in veg-focused restaurants in the Toronto food scene, it’s easy to see why an interest in sea greens has emerged.
What is it?
So what exactly does the term ‘sea greens’ encompass? Consumers have been told to expect everything from kelp noodles and jerky to algae transformed into a tuna alternative. We spoke to Kate Taylor Martin, registered holistic nutritionist and founder of the plant-based Nutbar cafe, to get some answers.
Taylor Martin notes that the benefits of sea greens were stressed in the first hour of the first day of holistic nutrition school and have been on her radar ever since. “Sea greens are about to be the newest group to enter the superfood spotlight,” she says.
Sea greens include edible algae, seaweed and sea vegetables. On this side of the globe, we’re most familiar with the likes of spirulina (oft taken in supplement form), kelp (spotted in noodles) and nori (ideal for snacking on or wrapping up that sushi). Dulse, kombu and wakame are other better-known types and agar subs in for gelatin in vegetarian and vegan desserts. Seafood should not be confused for sea vegetables.
When should it be consumed?
As with anything, moderation is key when it comes to ingesting sea greens. “Instead of binging on sea vegetables, it’s best to incorporate a little bit into your diet every day,” Taylor Martin says.
Why is it healthy?
“An increased awareness and interest in the world’s most nutrient dense foods has inevitably — and unsurprisingly — led us to turn the spotlight onto sea vegetables,” Taylor Martin says. “Plants that grow in the ocean are bathed in mineral-rich salt water and as a result, sea greens contain an incredibly broad range of minerals.”
Taylor Martin notes that they are among the richest source of bioavailable iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and many other minerals essential to the human body.
Additionally, they are notably high in antioxidants — key because they neutralize the damage that free radicals do to our cells — soluble and insoluble fibre and vitamin C.
Freshwater algaes, including spirulina, also possess an incredibly high level of minerals and other nutrients. “Spirulina has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, has been shown to lower blood pressure and has noticeably energy-boosting effects,” Taylor Martin says.
How can they incorporated into diets?
Taylor Martin is well aware of the benefits of sea greens, and does her best to incorporate them into her day-to-day routine. Adding them to an established diet routine needn’t be tricky; a dulse flake shaker allows for easy sprinkling on everything from pastas to salads. When it comes to spirulina, which is one of the less pleasantly flavoured sea greens, avoid dusting food with it and reach for the supplement version instead. “Instead of risking your entire dish tasting like swamp water, take it instead in pill form,” Taylor Martin says. “You can bypass the taste, but still get the amazing concentration of nutrients.”
Here a roundup of our favourite products containing sea greens, from nutrient packed juices to serums to bath soaks: