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Of the twenty algae recognized as "fit for human consumption", the best known are the following:
It has the shape of a bright green oak leaf. Its color is due to chlorophyll which is favorable to the acid-base balance of the body and to the detoxination of the blood. Fresh and full-bodied, it recalls the taste of sorrel.
It is a seaweed full of energy! Its vitamin content is 8 to 10 times greater than orange. Vitamin A: 2 times more than cabbage! Calcium: 10 to 20 times more than milk! Magnesium: 10 times more than wheat germ! (100% of RDI) Iron: 3 times more than the liver, 10 times more than spinach !
It is a burgundy red alga spreading like a batavia. A mixture of sweetness and iodine, it is the most popular sea-vegetable in the North Atlantic and English sailors already took it on their long journey to preserve them from scurvy. It recalls the taste of hazelnut.
Rich in magnesium (twice as much as wheat germ), iron (493mg / kg) and vitamins A, B6, B12, C and E, it has a tonic action on the blood and the nervous system. It also contains calcium (as much as egg yolk), potassium, iodine (100% RDI) and phosphorus. With nori, it has the highest protein content in the marine plant world (20 to 35%, as much as soybean).
Nori is a Japanese word for a product made from different varieties of porphyra (there are in all about thirty) and means "alga". If the true Nori is to be imported from Japan, the wild porphyra is also harvested on the French coasts and then marketed under the name of ... Nori! The Nori has a dark purple color and flavor of smoked tea and dried mushroom. Its texture is supple and thin as a veil and it is it used in making the famous sushi. It is thus the most consumed seaweed in the world.
With 35% protein, it cheerfully replaces soy, meat or tuna. With 18% minerals in balanced form, it is also highly alkaline: high potassium content, 5 times more calcium than milk, 4 times more magnesium than wheat germ, 2.5 times more phosphorus than tuna, 2 times more iodine than shellfish and 7 times more iron than spinach. It is also rich in sulfur, vitamin A (30% of RDI), vitamin B12 (100%!) and F. Aluminum to zinc, it has all trace elements necessary for the proper functioning of the body , as well as the eight kinds of amino acids of which this one has an indispensable daily need.
It is a robust marine plant that likes violent and cold currents. It reaches a length of 50 cm and lives between 6 and 12 meters of depth. Its blade is flexible and its ribs are rigid. It offers a discrete mixture of marine flavors, with an oyster taste.
This seaweed is sought after for calcium (13 times more than milk!), phosphorus (3 times more than tuna!), magnesium (twice as much as wheat germ) and iron (2 times more than parsley). It also contains thiamine and laminin which prevent the aging of the arteries and vitamins A, B1, B2, B12 and C. It is also the alga which contains the most alginic acid, chelator very effective for draining heavy metals and radioactive ions that poison our body.
The kombu seaweed, "plant-medicine" in the Eastern tradition, a plant of health and longevity, means "happiness" in Japanese. It measures according to the species from 6 to 60 meters and is, for the two most common species in Brittany of brown color.
This seaweed has been sought since antiquity, especially for its iodine richness, concentrated up to 500 times more in brown algae than in sea water! It should not be abused (it is preferable not to exceed 5 g of dehydrated kombu or 20 g of fresh kombu per day). Iodine is beneficial for the treatment of goitre and stimulates energy metabolism. Its deficiency (rare in the West due to the abundance of salt in our diet) leads to slowness of mind.
Kombu are also rich in proteins, amino acids (protection against hypertension) and alginic acid (purifying agent of the intestines). They contain 20-30% mineral salts (8 times more calcium than milk, 5 times more iron than spinach) and vitamins A, B1, B2, niacin, B6, B12, C, E, F, K and PP.
*: R.D.I. Reference Daily Intake (in %) for 5g dehydrated algae or 20 g fresh algae.
The Canadian Food Inspection Agency advises to avoid the consumption of seaweed hijiki (a black, slightly bitter seaweed sold dried). The inorganic arsenic content of the latter may exceed acceptable daily levels, even when consumed in small quantities. Among several algal samples analyzed, including dulse, porphyry and Japanese laminar (kombu), only the hijiki variety contained a high content of inorganic arsenic. Exposure to high concentrations of inorganic arsenic has been associated with gastrointestinal disorders, anemia and liver damage.
Anticoagulants and vitamin K
Algae contain large amounts of vitamin K, which is needed, among other things, for blood coagulation. People taking anticoagulant medicines should adopt a diet in which the vitamin K content is relatively stable from one day to the next. For these people, algae should not be eaten as a main meal (a sushi meal, for example). Persons on anticoagulant therapy are advised to consult a dietitian-nutritionist or a physician to learn the dietary sources of vitamin K to ensure the most stable daily intake.
The algae can be tasted hardly cooked and still crunchy; or cooked very long and almost melted in the dish. Although they usually accompany fish, there is nothing to stop cooking with poultry or meat.
Rehydrate dried seaweed. The rehydration time of the algae varies according to the type. Sea hair, sea lettuce, porphyry and dulse take only a few minutes; The spaghetti of sea will take 15 minutes; Kelp, wakame and laminaria from 30 to 60 minutes. Another liquid can be used to rehydrate other than water: white wine, vinegar, beer, etc. Avoid, however, red wine or red wine vinegar, whose tannin reacts with iodine.
The nori can be roasted dry by passing it over the flame of a gas cooker or by placing it on an electric plate. In Japan, it is a common technique for making sushi, preparing fine omelettes, or for other culinary uses of this alga.
Seaweed based condiments. Here are some Japanese cooking classics.
It sometimes takes some time for the body to get used to algae, which have a very real laxative effect. It is recommended to include them gradually in the diet. Eventually, they could constitute up to 10% of the food ration, as is the case in Japan.
Added to legumes as they cook, algae have the property of reducing cooking time, making them more digestible (reducing flatulence) while refining their taste and texture. This action would be attributable to their richness in glutamates.
Since the fresh seaweed market is not very established in North America, there is hardly any. However, more and more dulse or wakame salad is available in some fish shops or sushi restaurants. They are usually decorated with sesame seeds and chilli.
Fresh algae must be thoroughly rinsed in order to desalt them.
Dry seaweed is sold in sheets, ribbons, pieces or powder.
Seaweed in brine or canned algae can be found in specialty shops. The appearance and texture of canned algae are reminiscent of spinach purée.
Fresh algae: A few days in the refrigerator.
Dried seaweeds: In an airtight container, away from heat and light. The shelf life of the packaged products is generally 2 years, although in Japan they are kept much longer because the algae improve with time.
Sources (partie 1 et 2)
Dauzat Albert, Dubois Jean, Mitterand, Henri. Nouveau dictionnaire étymologique et historique, Librairie Larousse, France, 1971.
Encyclopedia Britannica. Algae. Seaweed. Fucus. Kelp. Dulse, etc. Britannica.com www.britannica.com
Espace des sciences. Biotechnologies marines, un vaccin pour les plantes. www.espace-sciences.org
Ferland G., Bertrand B., Potvin S. Régime contrôlé en vitamine K. Dans Chagnon Decelles D., Daignault Gélinas M., Lavallée Côté L. et coll. Manuel de Nutrition Clinique, 3e éd. Montréal, Ordre professionnel des diététistes du Québec, 2000
Higher Education Authority. Algae Base. Algaebase.org www.algaebase.org
Kiple Denneth F, Ornelas Kriemhild Coneè (Dir.) The Cambridge World History of Food, Cambridge University Press, Grande-Bretagne, 2000.
Kuhnlein Harriett V., Turner Nancy J. Traditional Plant Foods of Canadian Indigenous Peoples. Nutrition, Botany and Uses. Katz Solomon H. (Éd.) Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology, 1991.
Santé Canada. Fichier canadien sur les éléments nutritifs, 2010. webprod.hc-sc.gc.ca Saint-Laurent vision 2000. Les algues comestibles.
Service de diététique, Hôpital Laval. Alimentation et anticoagulothérapie, Québec, 2005.
Jin JO, Song MG, et al. The mechanism of fucoidan-induced apoptosis in leukemic cells: Involvement of ERK1/2, JNK, glutathione, and nitric oxide. Mol.Carcinog. 2010;49:771-82
Fucoidan induces apoptosis through activation of caspase-8 on human breast cancer MCF-7 cells. Yamasaki-Miyamoto Y, Yamasaki M, et al. J Agric Food Chem. 2009 Sep 23;57(18):8677-82.
Harwood JL, Guschina IA. The versatility of algae and their lipid metabolism. Biochimie 2009;91:679-84
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