Despite water covering 71% of the Earth’s surface, the majority of the food we consume comes from land.
50% of habitable land on earth is used for agriculture and 77% of that agriculture land is used for livestock. And despite 77% of agriculture land going toward livestock, only 18% of our global calorie supply is derived from that livestock, with the majority (83%) coming from plants.
These statistics are increasingly important as our agricultural practices impact the planet. From deforestation and soil erosion to water mismanagement, it’s time we shift our focus from sustaining our population on land-based foods and look over the horizon to the sea instead.
The History of Sea Plants in Diet
Sea plants such as kelp, seaweed, nori, and more have long been a part of the traditional Asian diet, dating back thousands of years. And, beyond being delicious, they also are linked with impressive health benefits.
A staple in the diet of people living in Okinawa, Japan—a Blue Zone known for its high centenarian population—sea vegetables are rich in minerals, vitamins, and, surprisingly, protein-packed.
In addition to their health benefits, consuming sea vegetables can also have a positive impact on the environment. Sea vegetables require no soil, fresh water, or fertilizer to grow, and help with absorbing carbon dioxide, releasing oxygen, and supporting marine biodiversity. With the increase in interest in sea vegetables, oceans have seen a rise in sea vegetable farms and an oceanic reforestation. Through regenerative seaweed farms, more sea plants are being grown to help with carbon sequestration, ocean acid reduction, and methane reduction.
If you’re ready to incorporate sea plants into your diet, start with any of the sea vegetable superfoods below:
A blue-green algae high in minerals such as iron, copper, calcium, magnesium, and potassium, spirulina is as famous for its health benefits as it is for its rich and beautiful aqua-blue color. Spirulina also contains an impressive 4 grams of protein per tablespoon, making it a great way to get plant-based protein. According to Green Queen, spirulina is such a good source of protein, it offers even more grams of protein per serving than beef or red meat.
With a neutral taste, you can sprinkle spirulina into smoothies, teas, or your morning oatmeal for a sea plant-based boost.
Ready to Supercharge Your Life with Spirulina? Try this PD-inspired recipe here: Spirulina Detox Bowl with Rawnola
Considered the “kale of the sea,” kelp is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and iodine, which help with overall heart and brain health and thyroid development. Iodine is especially important for balancing hormones and managing the metabolism, and can play a part in combating diseases and disorders such as diabetes, thyroid conditions, and autoimmune diseases. With iodine deficiency not uncommon in the United States, kelp products like kelp noodles and kelp pickles are an easy and natural way to incorporate iodine into your diet.
Low in both calories and fat, some studies have even linked kelp with weight loss due to its ability to block the absorption of fat in the gut.
Say goodbye to kale, and hello to kelp with this delicious PD dish: Sweet & Sour Kelp Noodle Salad
Likely the most common sea vegetable, nori can be found in sushi and other traditional Asian dishes. Nori contains vitamin C, iodine, and chlorophyll (a natural detoxifier that helps eliminate waste in the body), among other vitamins and minerals. Nori is also high in protein, for a low-calorie way to increase protein in your diet.
Add Nori Into Your Diet with this droolworthy PD dish: Sweet Potato Nori Rolls with Ginger Lime Sauce
If you’ve tried a green powder like Athletic Greens, then chances are you’ve consumed chlorella. Chlorella is, quite possibly, one of the best-kept sea secrets for your health and wellbeing. With 2 grams of protein for every 10 calories, chlorella (a sea algae) is incredibly protein-rich and the perfect protein substitution to meat. In addition to protein, it’s also high in iron, B12, calcium, omega-3’s, and other vitamins and minerals.
Incorporate chlorella into your diet with this healthy green smoothie: Green Smoothie for Heart Chakra (Anahata)
Ready to save the planet and supercharge your diet? Try incorporating these sea vegetables into your diet for long-lasting health and wellness benefits.
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