Behind the trend: Seaweed

This month we take a look at edible seaweed, charting its recent success and how it gained 'superfood' status.

In the beginning

Edible seaweed in bowl

Seaweed has been eaten since ancient times, with coastal communities around the world using this abundant and nutrient-rich ingredient as a seasoning or a thickening agent, or eating it as a snack.

Then

Seaweed is central to South-east Asian cuisine, particularly in Japan. As sushi took off in Britain in the Nineties, we embraced umami-rich seaweed in dishes like maki.

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Now

Men harvesting seaweed on a beach
Photo courtesy of Mara Seaweed.

The current appetite for sustainable food and the increase in foraging has seen a resurgence in native seaweed consumption. Seaweed sheets are on sale as snacks in health-food shops and supermarkets, and seaweed seasoning – which has less sodium than salt – is big in the restaurant world.

Try it yourself

Fiona Houston, from Mara Seaweed in Scotland, says: “Seaweed is high in nutrients like fibre, magnesium, potassium, calcium and iodine. You can shake seaweed seasoning onto porridge, scrambled eggs or avocado, and add flakes to soups, stews or pasta sauces in place of salt and stock cubes.”

Further reading… 

The health benefits of seaweed

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From April 2017