Algae is a very valuable, although still a bit underrated product. Recently, more and more people are reaching for them, but some of us still wonder what they can add to the menu, and what dishes can be prepared from them. Therefore, to dispel any doubts, we present you the nutritional value of algae and ideas for using them in the kitchen!
Algae are plants that live in water and where it is humid. Some of them occur in places where extreme conditions prevail, e.g. large changes in temperature or salinity. Therefore, to survive, they produce a large amount of biologically active metabolites, the valuable properties our body can also benefit from. That is why algae are becoming more and more popular, not only in a vegetarian diet.
There are many valuable ingredients in algae, such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, antioxidants, and amino acids.
The excess of free radicals in the body is harmful, because it leads to damage of blood vessels and lipid oxidation, and thus increases the risk of developing atherosclerotic changes. In addition, their excess predisposes to the occurrence of cancer, neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease), and also has a pro-inflammatory effect and accelerates the aging process. Unfortunately, the modern lifestyle (excessive stress, smoking, unhealthy diet, low level of physical activity) promotes the formation of free radicals. That is why it is so important to protect our bodies from their harmful effects and look for food rich in antioxidants. One of the products rich in these valuable compounds is algae. It has been observed that although they are exposed to radiation and high oxygen concentration (which promotes the formation of free radicals), they do not lead to structural changes in their organisms. Therefore, it has been found that algae can produce the necessary amount of antioxidants to protect against damage. This means that they are a good source of these compounds, and consuming them also helps our body fight free radicals.
Vegetarians who eliminate fish from their diet (including fatty sea fish, which are the source of omega-3 fatty acids) are looking for other products that will be a source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids for them. Therefore, algae, which are the source of alpha-linolenic acid, often appear in their diet. It is an ingredient that must not be missing in a healthy diet, due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer properties, as well as beneficial effects on the functioning of the central nervous system.
Algae are also a source of numerous vitamins and minerals, including:
In addition, there are ingredients in algae that improve metabolism, lower the level of LDL cholesterol (the so-called bad cholesterol), strengthen immunity, and have a beneficial effect on carbohydrate metabolism.
Taking into account the amount and variety of valuable ingredients that are present in algae, it is undoubtedly worth including them in the menu. However, the question is how to do this?
In stores, we can find powdered algae (e.g. chlorella, spirulina) most often. We can add them to smoothies, pesto, vegetable paste, wholemeal flour pancakes, fit bars, fruit sorbets, and soups. Thanks to them, the dishes gain not only nutritional value but also acquire a unique green color. This can be especially desirable when it comes to fit desserts.
We can prepare, for example, a salad from fresh algae or use it as a healthy addition to groats or rice. One idea is to combine them with avocado and cucumber, or to prepare a salad based on algae and eggplant. They are also perfect for Asian cuisine (e.g. mun mushroom salad and rice).
Algae are rich in ingredients valuable to our body that naturally strengthen immunity, improve the functioning of the central nervous system, delay the aging process, and protect us against various diseases. Therefore, even if we have not had the opportunity to try what they taste like before, it is worth breaking down and including them in the menu in a powdered form or as an addition to salads.
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