Can you eat algae?

In this brief text, we will answer the question, “Can you eat algae?”. We will also answer other questions related to the subject including what types of algae are edible, how you can add algae to your diet, and more.

Can you eat algae?

Yes, you can eat algae. Certain types of edible algae can be eaten or used for culinary purposes, and are also an excellent source of nutrition

What is algae? 

Algae or microalgae are tiny photosynthetic plants that contain chlorophyll. Chlorophyll gives an intense green colour to algae. You can find microalgae in freshwater and saltwater environments. Some types of algae are toxic, while some are totally safe to be consumed.

What types of algae are safe to eat? 

There are various types of algae that are safe to eat. All of them have their distinct characteristics and health benefits. These are the four types of edible algae:

Chlorella 

Chlorella is a single-celled, nutrient-dense green alga found in freshwater. Chlorella is a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. Chlorella is known to be the superstar of the algae family because it helps the body in detoxification. 

It assists in detoxifying persistent environmental pollutants like dioxins. Polychlorinated biphenyls are one of the most common dioxins and are prevalent in the water supply leading to the contamination of freshwater ecosystems. Chlorella is found in freshwater and eliminates and reduces the absorption of dioxins. 

Spirulina 

Spirulina is a blue-green alga and is known for its antioxidant properties. Spirulina is digestive by the human body in its whole food form but is most commonly found in powder form or in the form of tablets. Spirulina is a popular choice among plant based eaters because of its higher protein content as compared to chlorella. The flavour of spirulina is mild and can be incorporated into smoothies with ingredients like coconut, ginger, kale, and mint. 

Seaweed 

Seaweed or algae are the terms used interchangeably but are different. Seaweed and algae both grow in aquatic environments, but Seaweed is a type of algae that can only be found in the sea, whereas algae refer to plants that can be found in all types of freshwater and saltwater. Seaweed is a type of microalgae. 

Nori, dulse, kombu, and wakame are the types of seaweed that are good sources of protein, fatty acids, fibre, and minerals. Seaweed has nutrients and compounds that help reduce inflammation, improve thyroid function, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. 

Sea moss 

Sea moss is a type of red seaweed that is known for just health benefits. Irish sea moss and regular sea moss are the two types of sea moss. These two types of sea moss offer similar health benefits. Sea moss has a slimy texture, and may act as a soothing agent in the gut, and help improve your digestive system. 

Sea moss is a good source of minerals, like iodine. Iodine is a mineral required by your thyroid to make hormones, regulate your metabolism, and more. Sea moss is sold in powder form, but you can also find it in raw form in health food stores. If you mix sea moss with a smoothie, it’ll give a fishy flavour, so you will have to add some tasty things.

What are the health benefits of blue green algae? 

Blue green alga is a good source of protein. Blue green algae have Blue green coloured pigments that are rich in protein, iron, and other minerals. Blue green algae have been used in the form of supplements in the USA since the late 1970s. 

Blue green algae have been used as a treatment for high blood pressure, and as a protein supplement. It is also used for the treatment of high levels of cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and other health conditions.

How can you add algae to your diet? 

There are a number of ways you can add algae to your diet. Calcium, iron, vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, selenium, and magnesium are all abundant in algae. Most significantly, it is one of the best natural sources of iodine, a vitamin that is deficient in most other foods and is required for a healthy thyroid gland to function properly.  Here are some ideas to add algae in your diet:

Salads 

Add a tablespoon or two of algae to the salad and turn it into a powerhouse of nutrients. Adding algae to your salad will boost your immunity and benefit your health in many other ways. 

Popcorn

Instead of putting grated parmesan on your popcorn, go for a healthier option and add a teaspoon of algae to your popcorn.

Smoothies 

Algae is mild in flavour and goes well with many fruits and vegetables. Add one or two tablespoons of algae to your favourite ingredients and blend it into a smoothie. If you want to learn more about eating algae, click here.

Is chlorella more beneficial for health or spirulina? 

Chlorella and spirulina are high in nutrients, but chlorella has a more rich source of omega 3 fatty acids, iron, vitamin a, magnesium, iron and zinc. Chlorella is more beneficial to your health as compared to spirulina because of its high levels of polyunsaturated fats, vitamins and antioxidants. 

However, make sure that you talk to your doctor before eating chlorella or spirulina, especially in larger amounts as they may interact with blood thinners and other certain medications.

Conclusion

In this brief text, we answered the question, “Can you eat algae?”. We also answered other questions related to the subject including what types of algae are edible, how you can add algae to your diet, and more.

References

https://www.realsimple.com/health/nutrition-diet/algae-health-benefits
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/chlorella-spirulina#recommendation
https://www.livestrong.com/article/427504-list-of-foods-that-contain-algae/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.