Maine is known for its rugged, beautiful coastline and lobster, but what is lesser known is that its waters hold a wealth of nutritious and flavorful seaweeds. These native seaweeds, including dulse, kelp, and nori, are not only delicious but also packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds. We'll explore the benefits of Maine seaweeds, how you can optimize your health by incorporating them into your diet, and how the planet's health benefits too.
First and foremost, seaweeds are an excellent source of iodine, which is crucial for healthy thyroid function. They also contain high levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium, making them a great addition to a vegetarian or vegan diet. Additionally, seaweeds are rich in antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. Most seaweeds are known to also strengthen the hair, skin and nails.
But, seaweeds all over the world don’t just benefit people. They are integral to the oceans too. Beyond being a food source for a number of marine species, seaweeds also absorb carbon and nitrogen as they grow. They create what is known as the “halo effect” helping to strengthen the shells of shellfish like mussels and oysters allowing them to grow strong and more resistant to predators. Further, seaweeds don’t need any “extras” from us to grow unlike some of their terrestrial counterparts. They grow entirely free of fresh water, fertilizers or dry land.
Now, let’s jump into the various types of seaweeds found along the coast of Maine.
Dulse, a type of red algae, is a versatile seaweed that can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and stews to salads and snack foods. It's a commonly eaten seaweed among Maine coast residents. With a slightly salty and slightly sweet flavor, it makes a popular ingredient in cooking and a great alternative to processed snacks.
Kelp, a brown algae, is often used in Asian cuisine and is commonly found in seaweed salads and soups. There are many species of kelps including bull kelp, giant kelp, sugar kelp, and skinny kelp. Sugar & skinny kelps are both native to Maine where bull & giant kelps are native to the west coast of the United States. Both Sugar kelp and Skinny kelp have a strong salty flavor when dried but provide a boost of umami flavor to dishes.
Nori, perhaps the most well known, is a type of green algae. It’s best known for its use in sushi rolls, but is also becoming a popular dried sheet snack and can also be used in smoothies. Nori, like all seaweeds, is very nutritious but is made up of about 40% protein and has 10x more calcium than milk.
One of the best things about Maine seaweeds is that they are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can buy dried seaweed from organically certified farms like ours (www.nauticalfarms.com) or at your local health food store, and they are also available in supplement form (check out our Iodine Capsules!).
Incorporating Maine seaweeds into your diet can be a delicious and nutritious way to optimize your health. They are good for your pets too! With their high levels of essential vitamins, minerals, and other health-promoting compounds, they are a hidden gem of the Maine coast that you don't want to miss. So next time you're looking for a healthy snack or a tasty addition to your meals, reach for some dulse, kelp, or nori and experience the benefits of these amazing Maine seaweeds.