We all appreciate the beauty of seaweeds either floating on the water or under the sea. But we are actually not aware of the numerous benefits that these countless species of marine plants and algae offer us. They grow profusely in the ocean and also in rivers, lakes and other water bodies. Interested people who study about algae in a scientific way are known as Phycologist.
Fact 1 What are Seaweeds
Seaweeds are available in more than 10,000 varieties from about 3 billion years ago and nearly every area of the world’s water bodies. Seaweed is considered as algae and not a plant although it depends on sunlight to prepare food by the process of photosynthesis. Seaweeds are slimy and hard and often have rainbow colors. Seaweeds do not have any roots or flowers and require a firm surface like rocks to grow. They mostly live in shallow waters but reach out to the surface of water to absorb sunrays. They grow for miles and if you travel to the bottom of the seas and oceans you will be amazed at the beautiful colors and shapes of these seaweeds.
Fact 2 Variety of Seaweeds
Seaweeds come in different sizes and colors. Some are microscopic, like the phytoplankton that live suspended in the water column and is the base for most marine food chains. Some are huge, like the giant kelp that grow in abundance like forests. However most of them are medium-sized. There are 4 groups of seaweeds that are namely red, green, black and brown in color. The most common ones are Kelp, Sargasso and Sea Lettuce. You can see these varieties even while walking along the beach that randomly wash the sea shores.
Fact 3 The Importance of Seaweeds
The importance of seaweeds was well researched by phycologists. According to them, all animal life in the ocean is linked to marine plants and algae. Seaweeds are essential for ocean health. Moreover, more than 400 varieties of seaweeds are used by people as food, medicine, fertilizers and also to feed animals. They are used in different products that we use daily like the toothpaste etc. They are extremely essential to innumerable creatures that live underwater both as habitat and food.
Fact 4 Nutritional aspects of seaweeds
Humans had hardly realized the nutritional facts of seaweeds till they were discovered by scientists. They found out that seaweeds contain:
- They are full of Vitamins A and C, Minerals and Fiber.
- Some contain anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory agents.
- Seaweeds have proved to contain cancer-fighting powers.
- They are used as binding agents.
- Seaweeds are rich in Omega-3 oils and Magnesium.
Fact 5 How seaweeds are utilized
- The Japanese have been using “nori” from a long time to prepare the delicious Sushi rolls.
- Romans used them as medicines to treat wounds, burns and rashes.
- Evidence shows that ancient Egyptians used seaweeds to treat breast cancer.
- Researchers hope that seaweeds will prove to be effective in treating leukemia and malignant tumors in people. In Japan, dietary seaweeds come next to soya to improve health conditions.
- The omega-3 oils and magnesium present in them, helps to improve skin elasticity and suppleness.
- They are used in preparing organic skin-care products and cosmetics like cleansers, toners and moisturizers as the softeners (emollients).
- The binding agents (emulsifiers) found in seaweeds are used in commercial products like fruit jelly, toothpaste and others thus contributing to economic growth.
Seaweeds can however pose danger if the poisonous ones invade the waters causing significant commercial and ecological damage to the local species. It is hence important to take care of these useful friends of the waters to maintain healthy living both for marine creatures as well as for humans.