Superfood: Algae

You’ll never believe that something green and slimy is good for your health. (And we’re not talking about green smoothies.)

Algae, yes algae, are rich in health-boosting nutrients, and may help you achieve optimal health.

We’re not advocating for you to scrape the gunk off of your fish tank, or to skim the top of a stagnant pond to get your dose of this superfood. Not all algaes are created equal.

Edible algae is so full of nutrients that it may be considered one of the most nutritious foods known to man; beating out eggs, another nutrition powerhouse. Because they’re lesser known and conjure an “ick” factor, they are relatively overlooked.

Touted benefits include boosted energy levels, weight loss, and it can even naturally aid in easing anxiety, fatigue, stress and diabetes.

Algae can come in many different edible forms.

The most common is seaweed. Seaweed is popular in Asian countries, most notably wrapped around our favorite sushi rolls, and known as nori. But these sea plants do come in different varieties, all with different benefits.

Kelp, a kind of seaweed, is very unique among its fellow algae. This marine strain is full of iodine, which is critical for thyroid function. It also boasts essential fatty acids, fiber, potassium and sodium. It may aid in cancer prevention, and is also a natural laxative. Sheets of kelp can be added to cooking rice or beans to give tenderness and flavor. It also helps soften grains and legumes to ease digestion. (Discard the kelp after cooking.) Powdered kelp can be added to smoothies, or it can be simply sprinkled onto savory dishes for a nice salty taste.

A blue-green variety that lends a unique hue to foods is spirulina. A good source of plant-based protein, spirulina has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help heal and protect against inflammation and other cell damage. A single tablespoon of dried spirulina powder contains four grams of protein, and it may help lower bad cholesterol levels! Spirunlina powder can be added to smoothies or blended into juices—it’ll lend a beautiful blue or green color. It can also be taken as a tablet.

Chlorella has a dark-green color and is full of chlorophyll. Not just for plants, chlorophyll may help the body cleanse and heal its organs. It’s also a good source of beta carotene, vitamins B-12, C and E, zinc and selenium. Similar to spirunlina, chlorella can be added to juices or smoothies, and can also be found in tablet form. No matter what type of algae you choose, you can’t go wrong with this nutrient-rich food.

About WF Staff

Washington FAMILY Staff

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