04 January 2012

Seaweeds (Sea Plants): Consolidated General Information

Posted in Articles

Seaweeds (Sea Plants)

Consolidated General Information

Sea plants come from many rocky coastal areas worldwide. The intensity of light on the ocean depths affects color spectrums and the ability of sea plants to undergo photosynthesis. They contain about 240 calories per 100 gram serving.

Sea Plant Contents:

  • Minerals (10-35%), including many trace, some Ca & Mg (about 1% ea), also K for people with salt cravings
  • Amino Acids – (6-20%) full protein spectrum.
  • Vitamins (esp. B-Vitamins), Carotenoids, some Vitamin C, antioxidants, Fats (0.5 – 3%)
  • Enzymes – many types, sea plants basic food source providing enzymes – help swelling, digest fats
  • Complex Carbohydrates (40-50%) - are slowly released, balance blood sugar
  • Digestible Fiber (8-45%) – cleans colon, soothing, nutritive
  • Plant iodines – highest in brown algae – helps with gland disorders
  • Brazil Research: sulfated polysaccharides (long chain amino sugars bind to heavy metals)

Sea Plant Properties:

  • Chelator of heavy metals – detoxifies body – lightens the burden of liver and kidneys
  • Restorative, nutritious, moisturizing, cooling
  • Soothing for coughs, relieves swelling, anti-spasmodic – calms, nourishes
  • Anti-inflammatory –  studies show increase of joint health and mobility
  • Helps “feed” nerves, energy & metabolism, provides balance via natural minerals, supports adrenal glands
  • Supports balancing of blood sugar and slow release of carbohydrates
  • Skin care – nourishing, moisturizing properties – literally food for skin
  • Used as a thickener in gels & ice cream. Thickens most foods slightly.
  • Provides nourishment to plants – garden benefits – mulch, natural fertilizers, alginates for plants

These blood-building nutritive sea plants are excellent food sources (try HP&D’s Essence of Sea Plants – combines 9 types of sea plants into a powder - Link to recipes: http://herbprod.com/articles/recipes ):

  • Serve raw – nori rolls, use whole red dulse leaves marinated in lemon and sprinkle Essence of Sea Plants
  • Cook with grains, beans, toppings of vegetables, potatoes, pasta – soaked whole pieces or sprinkle – nourishing.
  • Salad and salad dressings, spreads, dips – boosts everything with deep flavor characteristics. Delicious in soups.
  • Use consistently – even small amounts add more richness to dishes – marinate in green onions and lemons

Characteristics of each sea plant type – There are brown, red, black/purple, and green algae.

Forms of growth: Stipes – stem-like growth; Blades - leaf-like growth; Thallus – whole plant body

 Brown Algae (Phaeophyta): 15,000 - 20,000 species - All loaded with B vitamins, carotenoids, and highest levels of iodine:

*Kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum)  and Rockweed(Pelvetia fastigiate) -, being a delicate form of Fucus cuttoni, grows with Sea Lettuce – brown to olive green color - northern regions (Europe, Canada, Norway, Iceland)

  • Brain food, improves metabolism, immune system, detoxifies body of heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs
  • Widely used, great value, versatile, major source of nutrients.
  • 6% protein, 2.5% fat, 7% fiber, under 50% carbohydrates, 25% minerals, including a good deal of iodine:
  • Icelandic kelp iodine content: 8,000 ppm
  • Norwegian kelp iodine content: 4,000 ppm
  • Atlantic kelp iodine content: 1,500 – 2,000 ppm
  • Pacific Kelp iodine content: 500 – 1,200 ppm
  • Glutamic acid –  tenderizer
  • Mannitol – soothing, nourishing sugars

*Giant Bullwhip Kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) - Nereocystsis (Leutkeana Limitada) and Feathered Boa (Egregia Menziesare similar.

  • Grows over 40 meters deep (140 feet) in huge kelp forests. Found on beaches, NW U.S., Canada; NE U.S., Canada.
  • Food for fish, an important part of ocean ecology. It contains large blades and a flexible stipe (stem) of 30 -60 feet.
  • Good for skin irritations, bites, poison oak. Can be cut into rings and boiled until tender or pickled and eaten.
  • Gulf weed (Sargassum muticum) – Hawaii, Asia,  golden to dark brown, tiny beaches, various blades

 *Kombu (Laminaria digitata Atlantic & Laminaria japonica Pacific)

  • 18% protein, low fat, high trace minerals, carotene, B complex, algin (chelator of heavy metals)
  • Many dishes, soups, stews, condiments, often cooked with grains & beans to help make it more digestible
  • Found in deep sea – long, flat strips

Alaria (Alaria esculenta) – Atlantic Ocean, similar to Wakame(Undaria pinnatifada)- Pacific Ocean

  • Long, ribbed stems, very high in calcium, much comes from W. Ireland
  • 9 – 20% protein, 1.5% fat, 46% carbohydrates, 230 ppm iodine
  • Soups, cooked vegetables & salads – vitamin A, strong vitamin B profile
  • Also Ocean Ribbons (Lessoionopsis littoralis) – quick rinse and to remove salts – same prep. as Alaria.

 *Sea Palms (Postelsia palmaeformis)

  • California and NW U.S. – strong, usually withstands pounding surf
  • 12 - 21% protein, 48% carbohydrates, 150 – 500 ppm iodine, 2,000 – 8,000 ppm Ca, some vitamin E
  • Often found on the beach after major storms.  Color is green, turning to golden brown.
  • Beautiful silhouette – to see them swaying on the coastline
  • Choice flavor – trim tops to harvest – prepare sautés with grains, cooked dishes or salads

*Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus)

  • Asia, U.S., Australia, Europe
  • Original source of iodine (200 - 500 ppm), management characteristics
  • 7% protein, 2.5% fat, 3.5% fiber, 43% carbohydrates, High Calcium, strong Vitamin D profile, some Vitamin A
  • Used in weight management regimens – fucoidan active ingredient – helps with inflammation, viruses
  • Quick soups, cooked vegetables, tips are very tasty

Arame (Eisenia bicyclis) –Korea, Japan

  • Cooked and sundried. Good for teeth and bones and has a cooling effect, Contains Ca, I, Mg, Vitamins. A, K
  • Immune builder that contains Lamarin (polysaccharide), high in lignins, mildly flavored

Red Algae (Rhodophyta): 6,000 species – Supportive the of immune system via white blood cells, also improves red blood cells.

Have many anti-viral properties, carry minerals, cell walls are cellulose with agars & carrageenans:

*Lithothamniom (Calcereum) – 1,600 types

  • Sea plant mineral, coral-like, concentrates minerals – highly bioavailable – calcified skeletal remains - Thallus
  • 35% calcium (very high), 3.5% magnesium, 32 trace minerals
  • 50 – 75 feet deep, found in Ireland to Iceland, absorbs nutrients from the sea
  • Being a major calcium collector (with some Mg) Helps support bone density, nerves, muscles (structure)
  • Coralline algae (similar type) – mimics coral calcium – nearly 40% calcium and magnesium

*Dulse (Palmaria palmata) 

  • Maine, Canadian Atlantic coast, absorbs blue light, reflects red light, one of the best tasting sea plants
  • Very versatile in foods – used as powder, flakes, and whole pieces (marinate in lemon juice)
  • 12 -25% protein, 2% fat, 0.5% magnesium, 2% sodium, some vitamin B12

 *Irish moss (Chrondrus crispus)

  • Used as a thickener in Jamaica beverages, gels, good expectorant
  • 11-18% protein, 15% minerals—sulfur & iodine (200-300 ppm)
  • Moistens phlegm in lungs, helps as a heart tonic, kidney and bladder support

*Gracilaria and the similar species, Flagweed (Both found in warmer seas)

  • Various Hawaiian “Limu” (Ogo), S. Indian Sea, Gracilaria salicornia (Mexico)
  • Used in agar cultures, tropical and sub-tropical reef builders
  • Excellent in skin care – provides elastin for skin – facials

Halymenia floresia

  •  South Florida (canals), has anti-viral properties
  • Good for skin – very delicate composition (blade-like – Red Luttuce)


 Coastal California, used in research for herpes, rich in minerals, cooling, soothing (topical and internal)

Agar Agar (Gelidium)

  • Cooling, anti-inflammatory, digestion, binds to heavy metals like sodium alginate, thickener

Black / Purple Algae  (technically Red Algae):

  • High in manganese (53 ppm), zinc (41 ppm), beta carotene (mid 300 ppm), calcium (2,000 – 8,000 ppm), protein (15 - 34%), carbohydrate (60 %), vitamin C (130-1100 ppm)

Nori (Porphyra yezoensis)

  • High in protein (34%), vitamins B, E & some C, plants are cut and sun dried
  • Can be used in highly regarded sushi rolls, and ground up or flaked for topping

Laver (Porphyra umbilicalis)

  • Like nori – great in soups, with grains.  Usually coarser than nori

Hijiki (Cystceria Geminate)

  • 20% protein, carotenoids, vitamin C, 1.4% calcium, 1/3 minerals by weight, 1,400 ppm iodine (2nd highest source)
  • Good for balance of blood sugar, and beneficial for teeth and bones
  • Great with tempeh, cooked greens, mushrooms, wild rice, & transforms sauerkrauts (wonderful!)
  • Plants are cut & dried in the sun, often harvested as branches growing over rocky ledge

Green Algae (Chlorophyta) – 7,000 species - (some are Chlorella, Spirulina, Klamath blue-green):

Sea Lettuce (Ulva lactuca)

  • Found worldwide from salty seas to freshwater lakes and rivers
  • Shallow waterbeds – be careful of contamination
  • Lot of biomass, as broad as it is long – has stong vitamin B profile, calcium and vitamin A
  • Some related species are Eel Grass (Zostera marina), Surf Grass (Phyllospadix spp.), Gutweed (Enteromorpha spp.) – all these are submerged angiosperm (flowering plants in the inner tidal region)

 Some other notable Algaes include: Turkish Towel (CA, Asia) – red algae, Grapestone gigartinapapillate (N. CA) – black/purple algae, and Chondracanthus exasperatus.

 All * (9 sea plants) are contained in our Essence of Sea Plants.

Sea plants could become integral part of the diet. They strengthen the body, help purify the blood (its salty composition is analogous to the ocean). Our blood is purified with sea plants. They add zest to life.

Please note that nutritional analyses can vary. We can correct any analysis when new information is available.



 Plant Resources of South-East Asia No. 15 (1) Cryptogams: Algae, W.F. Prud’homme van Reine & G.C. Trono Jr (editors), Prosea Foundation, 2002

 Sea Vegetable Gourmet Cookbook & Wildcrafter’s Guide, Eleanor & John Lewallen, Mendocino Sea Vegetable Co., 1996

 Common Seaweeds of the Pacific Coast, J. Robert Waaland, Pacific Search Press, 1977

 Kelp, Dulse and other Sea Supplements, William H. Lee, R.Ph., Ph.D., Keats Publishing, 1983

 LIMU, An Enthobotanical Study of Some Hawaiian Seaweeds, Isabella A. Abbott. National Tropical Botanical Garden, 1984

 The Limu Eater, a cookbook of Hawaiian seaweed, Heather J. Fortner. Sea Grant Miscellaneous Report, 1978



 Ryan  Drum, Island Herbs, www.ryandrum.com

 Wikipedia - Algae / History of phycology, various references

 Maine Coast Sea Vegetables , www.seaveg.com

 Marine Algae of Hawai’I, www.hawaii.edu

 Michael Guiry’s Seaweed Website, http://appliedphycologysoc.org/algae/phaeophyta.html                    

 About.com – Marine Life — Marinelife.about.com