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Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

Blooming algae – hot new protein

Packed with nutrients yet still not a mainstay on Western plates, algae – aka seaweed – is the hot new source of protein. 

Benefits of algae

Weight loss
Algae, particularly the brown type containing fucoxanthin, has been shown to aid weight loss efforts.

Cancer fighter
Many types of ­algae may slow cancer cell growth, particularly oral cancer, making it a potential natural treatment.

Anti-inflammatory
Algae contains anti-inflammatory compounds, particularly the red variety. 

Cholesterol lowering
Algae is a rich source of phytosterols, which have been shown to lower cholesterol naturally by helping lower intestinal cholesterol absorption. 

Healthy heart
Nostoc commune, a blue-green type of algae, has been found to inhibit genes involved with cholesterol metabolism, thereby ­potentially lowering plasma cholesterol levels. 

Common types of algae

Nori
Purplish-black with a very thin, flat texture, it has slightly sweet meaty flavor.

Kombu
Large, thick, brown algae with a savory flavor that is almost mushroom-like. 

Dulse
A thin red algae that has a nutty, smoky flavor. More nutrient-­rich than spinach.

Spirulina
A blue-green algae declared the “food of the future.” One gram has the nutritional equivalent of 1,000g of fruits and vegetables.

Who eats algae?

Athletes
For more than four dec­ades, Olympic athletes have tapped into spirulina for energy gain, endurance and vitality.

Astronauts
NASA astronauts rely on algae to pack a lot of nutrients into a very small amount of food. 

Vegetarians and vegans
Seaweed is one of the few plant sources of vitamin B-12, making it an excellent choice for those who follow a plant-based diet. 

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