If you are looking for a natural and nutritious way to fuel your body, then edible algae might be the perfect solution. In fact, aquatic greens like algae have recently been touted by nutritionists as powerful superfoods that deserve a spot in your diet. But if you are new to the world of edible algae, you likely have quite a few questions about these up-and-coming nutritional powerhouses:
- What exactly is edible algae?
- Why should you think about adding it to your diet?
- What types of algae are edible?
- What should you consider when adding algae to your diet?
If any of these questions resonate with you, then keep reading because we are going to break down the answers to those questions and more.
Understanding Edible Algae
By definition, algae are plant-life, aquatic organisms that are capable of using photosynthesis to produce oxygen. Unlike plants though, algae are distinct in that they do not have leaves, roots, or stems, nor do they have a vascular system that allows them to transport water and nutrients throughout their bodies. Additionally, algae also occur throughout nature in many different shapes and sizes; some exist as single, microscopic cells (microalgae) while others are multicellular organisms that can take on a leafy appearance (macroalgae). Just like many other organisms that exist on our planet, some types of algae are safe for human consumption while others are not.
What is Edible Algae?
Edible algae are types of algae that are not only edible but also have been a food source for people around the world for thousands of years. These types of algae have gained popularity in the health and culinary worlds thanks to their dense nutritional profiles and numerous health benefits.
Today, many types of edible algae are easily accessible. Various types of macroalgae, like edible seaweed, are available for purchase and can be used in dishes like sushi rolls and salads while many species of microalgae, including the ever-popular types of blue-green algae, can easily be found in powder and capsule forms so you can use them to supplement your diet and ensure you are getting plenty of the important nutrients that they contain.
Algae vs. Seaweed
Although algae and seaweed are often used synonymously, it is important to note that the two terms do not mean the same thing. Here’s the distinction between the two:
- Seaweed is a type of macroalgae that can be found in marine environments (i.e. bodies of salt water like the ocean).
- Algae are the broader categories of aquatic organisms that include seaweed as well as other photosynthetic organisms that live in all types of aquatic environments, including freshwater as well as marine ecosystems.
To put it more simply, all seaweed is a type of algae but not all types of algae are seaweed. In fact, there are a number of different types of microalgae that don’t fit into the seaweed category, including the various types of blue-green algae, which we will talk more about in a minute.
Unpacking the Nutritional Benefits of Algae
Edible algae are known for having dense nutritional profiles that offer a wide range of nutritional benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key nutrients found in algae and the health benefits they provide.
Key Nutrients Found in Algae
Algae, particularly seaweed and blue-green algae, are excellent sources of a wide array of vital nutrients thanks to their physical structure. Since algae don’t have the same components and systems that plants do, these amazing organisms don’t have to produce cellulose, which is the main compound found in the cell walls of plants. This means that they can expend more energy to make things like proteins, fatty acids, and other nutrients that are vital to the health of the human body.
While the exact nutrient makeup of algae varies, most types of edible algae contain many of the same key nutrients (although in differing amounts), including…
- Protein and amino acids
- Essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6
- Dietary fiber
- Vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and E as well as many forms of B vitamins
- Minerals, including iodine and iron among others.
- Phytopigments like chlorophyll and beta-carotene
Health Benefits of Algae
Edible algae are not only a great source of important nutrients but they also offer numerous health benefits. For example, the antioxidants found in algae are great for helping to fight oxidative stress and supporting healthy cellular functions, which are vital to the well-being of every system in your body. Additionally, various types of algae have been found to protect heart health, promote the body’s natural detoxification process, as well as support the important functions carried out by your digestive system and immune system.
Diving into Different Types of Edible Algae
Now that you have a better understanding of how edible algae can impact your health, let’s dive into some of the different types that are available and their unique properties.
Seaweed is highly nutritious and a common staple in Japanese cuisine. These marine algae come in a variety of shapes and colors. There’s brown seaweed like Kombu and Wakame, green seaweed like Sea Lettuce, and red seaweed like Nori, Dulse, and Irish Sea Moss. These seaweed products offer numerous health benefits by adding key nutrients like minerals, vitamins, protein, and fiber to your diet, which makes it helpful for supporting gut health, heart health, and even weight management.
You can incorporate seaweed into your diet by using it to wrap sushi, adding it to miso soup or fried rice, or grabbing some seaweed chips to snack on between meals.
Spirulina is a strain of edible blue-green algae that grows in tropical bodies of water all around the world, and it has recently been gaining popularity because of its dense nutrient profile. With a wide array of B vitamins, a variety of trace minerals, and antioxidant compounds like beta-carotene, spirulina is a great option for supporting cardiovascular, digestive, and immune health.
Of particular note here is the fact that spirulina also has a high protein content and contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a popular choice among people who choose to follow a plant-based diet.
Spirulina is most commonly found in supplement form, often as a powder or tablet. This means you can add it to smoothies or sprinkle it on top of your favorite salads or soups for an extra boost of nutrients.
Chlorella, another popular type of blue-green algae, thrives in freshwater ecosystems and is known to multiply rapidly. Much like spirulina, chlorella also offers a wide array of nutrients including protein, vitamins like vitamin C, and minerals like iron and calcium. Chlorella is best known for its ability to support the natural detoxification process your body goes through, which is vital to your overall well-being. Additionally, the nutrients found in chlorella provide similar health benefits to those of spirulina, offering support for things like immune function, digestive health, and even liver function.
It is available in various forms such as dried powder, capsules, or tablets, which makes it easy to add to your daily routine.
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA)
Aphanizomenon flos-aquae, also known as AFA or Organic Wild Microalgae®, is another strain of edible blue-green algae that is rich in nutrients and offers several health benefits. Exclusively grown and wild-harvested from Klamath Lake in Southern Oregon, Organic Wild Microalgae is often referred to as Mother Nature’s most perfect superfood because it has the most impressive nutrient profile we’ve ever seen. It has a slightly higher protein content than spirulina as well as all 20 standard amino acids. Plus, it also has 13 different vitamins (including many from the B complex), over 60 trace minerals, a wide array of antioxidant compounds, phytopigments like chlorella, beta-carotene, and phycocyanin, and an ideal ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
With so many important nutrients, it’s no wonder that many scientific studies have linked Organic Wild Microalgae to health benefits like improved overall energy, better digestion, and enhanced functioning of the brain, immune system, and cardiovascular system. What’s more? AFA also has one unique benefit that helps it stand out from the crowd—it can promote stem cell proliferation, which is vital for healthy, graceful aging.
Choosing the Right Algae Product
When it comes to choosing the right algae product, there are a few important factors to consider. Let’s explore some tips for making the best choice for your health and dietary needs.
1. Do Your Research
Like any other health-related product you choose to consume, it’s important not to blindly choose an algae product. Instead, take some time to do your research. Look for information not only about the nutritional value of the type of algae you are interested in but also about the harvesting and production process. Check to make sure the algae you choose is grown in clean waters that are consistently tested for and free of contaminants and environmental pollutants. You’ll want to look for a product that is made by a reputable company that has many years of experience producing clean, high-quality algae products.
2. Look For Certifications
Another important factor that comes into play when you are choosing an algae supplement is trust. You need to be able to trust that the products you are taking are safe and of the highest quality possible, which is why it’s important to look at the globally recognized certifications a product has. Certifications like USDA-Organic, Halal, Kosher, and GMO-free as well as registrations like the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), which is the gold standard in the food industry, are all indicative that the company takes great care to ensure they are giving you a safe supplement that is of the highest quality possible.
3. Consider Lifestyle Preferences
Algae products are a versatile addition to any diet, accommodating various lifestyle preferences. With their high protein content and a wide array of nutrients, most types of edible algae can be particularly beneficial for people following specific eating regimens, such as a vegetarian, vegan, or keto diet. With that being said, the type of algae you choose and the form you get it in may vary depending on your particular lifestyle and needs. Before committing to a new algae product, consider your routines and preferences and let those inform the products you choose. Will you enjoy the flavor and versatility that come with incorporating raw forms of algae like seaweed into your meals, or would you prefer the simplicity and convenience that comes with trying a powder, capsule, or tablet supplement? The choice is yours!
Nourish Your Body with Organic Wild Microalgae
If you’re looking to add edible algae to your diet so you can reap the array of health benefits that come with boosting your nutrient intake, then look no further than the algae-infused supplements from New Earth.
These all-natural superfood supplements harness the power of Organic Wild Microalgae to nourish your body from the inside out and keep you looking and feeling your best. Whether you are looking for an algae product to support your immune system, gut health, cognitive function, or overall well-being, we have an AFA-infused product that is sure to give your body the upper hand. Plus, you can put any of our products to the test risk-free with our 90-day money-back guarantee, so you have nothing to lose and a whole lot to gain. Browse our complete line of dietary supplements today and choose one to put to the test. Trust us, your body will thank you for it.
At New Earth we are on a mission to positively impact the health of every body and soul we come in contact with. We specialize in producing third-party certified, organic whole food supplements including a variety of probiotics, and digestive support. Our supplements feature a rare, yet highly nutritious superfood, Aphanizomenon flos-aquae (AFA). Also known as organic Wild Microalgae®, AFA is a unique type of microalgae that is available in many forms including tablets, capsules, and powders all designed to help you on your journey to holistic wellness. The best part? We offer a 90-day money-back risk-free guarantee on all of our products. Visit our website to learn more.