We are looking forward to exhibiting on Sunday 20th October at the famous Pannier Market Barnstable. Great local food producers, chef demos and more plus it’s Free Entry…drop in and say hello and try some of our great local seaweed products…….View full recipe
Can Seaweeds Save The Planet!
A pink seaweed that grows in tropical waters could end up being a huge aid in reducing greenhouse gases, if scientists in Australia have their way.
Researchers are looking into ways to sustainably mass-produce the crimson-hued algae – called Asparagopsis taxiformis – after a study five years ago demonstrated it almost completely nullified the natural release of methane burped out by cows.
“When added to cow feed at less than two percent of the dry matter, this particular seaweed completely knocks out methane production,” says aquaculture biologist Nick Paul from the University of the Sunshine Coast.
“It contains chemicals that reduce the microbes in the cows’ stomachs that cause them to burp when they eat grass.”
Australian Research Team
Paul was a member of an Australian research team who in 2014 analysed 20 different species of tropical macroalgae to see which, if any, might best reduce methane production when fed to cattle.
While methane represents a much smaller overall source of atmospheric pollution than carbon dioxide (CO2), its heat-trapping potential makes it much more harmful than CO2, especially in the short term.
Over the course of 100 years, atmospheric methane is about 28 times more effective at trapping heat than CO2, and in a 20-year time-frame it’s thought to be over 100 times worse.
With that kind of heat-trapping potential – and the reality that livestock are responsible for about 14.5 percent of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions (65 percent of which are due to cattle) – it’s clear that A. taxiformis could have a vital role to play in reducing future global warming.
Seaweeds as a Superfood
Seaweeds are considered a superfood. BBC reports that the many different types of seaweeds are full of nutrients, pumped with minerals, proteins, Vitamin K and more. In fact, research has traced the longevity of the Japanese people, particularly the Okinawans, to a diet that is mostly composed of seaweeds and other vegetables.
Moreover the report reveals that seaweeds contain fucoidans, a molecule that improves health and life expectancy, and boosts immunity and cardiovascular function.
Seaweeds are also an extraordinary sources of iodine, vital in ensuring a healthy thyroid. The Guardian also lists various other nutritional benefits which include: high fibre content which is important for digestive health, low calories, detox properties and the capability to regulate hormones to aid in cancer prevention.
Seaweeds as climate change fighters
Also in Canada, a farmer revealed that his cows which ate washed up seaweed were healthier and had longer mating cycles. Verified by Canadian researchers Rob Kinley and Alan Fredeen who also noted the reduced methane levels of the cattle studied.
Researchers from James Cook University found that sheep which consumed at least two percent of seaweed in their diet reduced their methane levels by 50 to 70 percent. The same study also discovered that cows with a normal diet of grass, along with a small amount of seaweed, can reduce their methane emissions by 99 percent.
Can Enough Seaweed be Grown?
At Ebb Tides we are concerned about the use of wild seaweeds due to sustainability issues, but can enough seaweed be grown to supply the demand required for feeding cows. Dr Luke Gardner a California Sea Grant Extension Specialist states.
The current wild supply won’t provide enough supply to counteract the methane cows release. To do that, it must be farmed, which hasn’t yet been done. Gardner said it’s important to look for a native seaweed that can be grown at scale in the U.S. Doing so would help not just the climate, but it’s also a nascent industry, Gardner said. “We hope to kickstart seaweed aquaculture on the West Coast,” he said. “There’s a lot of interest in it and (growing seaweed for cattle feed) would give it a real market.”
The vast majority of seaweed farming today takes place in the ocean in a handful of Asian nations, headed by China. In the U.S., many bureaucratic and cultural hurdles keep seaweed aquaculture from becoming a mainstay. (A few kelp farms do exist in Maine and Connecticut, but they are the exception.) California, in particular, has a very complex permitting process. Only one off-shore commercial aquaculture farm, Catalina Sea Ranch, has been permitted thus far in federal waters off the southern coast. Its main crop is mussels, but it’s also experimenting with kelp.
Members of the state’s Native American communities have raised alarms about expanding seaweed cultivation and harvesting before, noting the sacred role seaweed plays in their cultures and the other recent examples of others overharvesting foods that are important to indigenous communities, as has happened with abalone populations on Northern California’s coast.
To Gardner, allowing seaweed aquaculture in the state is a no-brainer. Growing it locally is economically advantageous. The average cow eats 10,000 pounds of dry matter forage per year. So the state would need about 140,000 dry tons of the seaweed per year to add just 1 percent of it to cows’ diet.
To overcome these challenges, the researcher at the U.C. San Diego envision initially growing seaweed in tanks. Smith is studying the asparagopsis taxiformis found locally, looking at how manipulating temperature, light, and nutrient concentration affects growth rate. “We want to grow it as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Smith said.
Smith’s team is working to develop a living library of the native asparagopsis strains and running experiments in the lab to find the optimal one. “We might be able to find a strain that grows fast, is tolerant to environmental conditions, and produces the most bromoform,” Smith said. She is also trying to increase the marine algae’s concentration of bromoform by manipulating nitrogen and phosphorous, which would allow the cows to consume less of the seaweed.
A land-based system of tanks would minimize environmental impacts and allow for better control of the fragile algae, Smith said. In particular, researchers could optimize a growing phase during which the seaweed reproduces through fragmentation, meaning it could be cut it into pieces that each grow into a full plant. Growing in tanks also means no worries about pests, predators, storms, swells, or other dangers.
“If we can optimize growth rates, all you need is access to sunlight and clean seawater and tanks,” said Smith. “You can have much more control.”
However, Josh Goldman, the founder of Australis Aquaculture, says growing seaweed in the ocean is more cost efficient and effective. For the past year and half, Goldman’s company—which farms barramundi in Massachusetts and Vietnam—has been working on a project called Greener Grazing. Its goal is to cultivate asparagopsis in the ocean (the entire life cycle of the seaweed hasn’t yet been replicated in captivity).
Seaweeds could help Save The Planet however at Ebb Tides we believe substantial investment is required to produce the required amount of seaweed to help make an impact when it comes to Save The Planet. Governments may have to get involved with financial assistance if they are serious about their intents to Save The Planet.View full recipe
Seaweeds and Breast Cancer
Seaweed, or algae such as dulse, kelp (including arame, kombu, and wakame), nori, and sea lettuce (Ulva lactuca and Monostroma spp.)
Generally speaking, seaweed is a good dietary source of calcium, iodine, and fiber. Some varieties are also good sources of vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, manganese, magnesium, selenium, copper, or zinc. Various seaweeds have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticoagulant, and antibiotic properties.
A rich source of carotenoida
Seaweed can be a rich source of carotenoids. For example, brown seaweeds contain beta-carotene, fucoxanthin, and violaxanthin. In addition, seaweed contains some unique compounds, such as various fucoidans (found in brown seaweeds), stearidonic acid (brown seaweeds), phlorotannins (kelp), mycosporine-like amino acids and phenolic acid (dulse), all of which have been shown to have anticancer properties in the laboratory. Seaweed is also a good dietary source of the lignan enterolactone. Various extracts of seaweed have been shown to inhibit the growth of colon and breast cancer cells in the laboratory.
Breast cancer-related effects of consuming Brown Seaweed
The evidence that seaweed consumption could reduce the risk of breast cancer is based primarily on studies of brown seaweeds:
- Consumption of brown seaweeds has been shown to favorably alter estrogen metabolism in women. Extract of common kelp has been shown to inhibit the binding of estradiol to estrogen receptors and progesterone to the progesterone receptor. Bladderwrack (another type of edible kelp) has been found to exert anti-estrogenic effects in pre-menopausal women
- Specific unique components (fucoidan, fucoxanthin, alginic acid, laminarin) of brown seaweeds have been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation. However, red seaweeds, which lack these compounds, also inhibit proliferation, suggesting that other compounds found in seaweed may also be important
- Seaweed in the Asian diet may enhance intestinal conversion of phytoestrogens, in particular the production of equol, which could explain some of the breast cancer protective effects of dietary seaweed and soy
- The brown seaweed wakame (a type of kelp) has been shown to contain the omega-3 fats eicosapentaenoic acid and stearidonic acid, which may favorably increase the omega-3/omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid ratio (which in turn is thought to reduce breast cancer risk). Some other types of seaweed have been found to contain docosahexaenoic acid, another marine omega-3 fat
- Wakame was also found to reduce breast cancer proliferation in rats in one Japanese study
- Mekabu (wakame root) extract has been shown to induce cell death in human hormone receptor negative (ER-/PR-) breast cancer cells and to suppress mammary carcinogenesis in rats when administered in daily drinking water, without toxicity
- Various types of red, brown and green algae have been found to be good sources of melatonin. Melatonin protects against breast cancer in several ways, including by reducing aromatase activity within the breast, thereby reducing estrogen production
- The relatively high iodine content of seaweed may contribute to reduction in risk of breast cancer
- The relatively high levels of calcium found in seaweed are also thought to contribute to seaweed’s chemopreventive effects, in combination with its other components.
Postmenopausal women with breast cancer and a high intake of enterolactone have been found to be less likely to die from their breast cancer than those with a low intake.
Enterolactone has also been found to increase the sensitivity of breast cancer cells to radiation, thereby potentially enhancing the treatment effects of radiotherapy.
Consuming Seaweed as a Food
Consuming seaweed as food rather than fucoidan, kelp or other seaweed supplements since (1) as outlined above, various components of seaweed in addition to fucoidan or iodine may be responsible for seaweed’s apparent anti-carcinogenic effects; (2) the compounds, minerals and fiber found in seaweed may act synergistically to reduce cancer risk; (3) safe and effective levels of fucoidan have not been established; (4) supplementation may result in increased blood thinning, depending on the formulation. Ebb Tides Seaweeds products are simple and easy to use on your foods for your seaweed intake.
Most seaweed is dried after being harvested and must be rehydrated before use. Nori is a common seaweed ingredient in sushi. Currently, in the U.S., seaweeds are used mainly as a source of gums, gelling compounds and thickeners (such as agar) for use in foods such as ice cream, and some industrial applications.
Seaweed readily incorporates minerals from the surrounding water; minerals can account for more than one-third of seaweed dry matter. While this can make various seaweeds a rich source of beneficial micronutrients, it can also make them a dietary source of heavy metals, including arsenic.
One analysis of dried seaweed samples purchased in London and over the Internet found that some contained unacceptable levels of arsenic. On the other hand, one study found that wakame is effective in preventing the absorption and reabsorption of dioxin from the gastrointestinal tract and therefore might be useful in treatment of humans exposed to dioxin.
Several Types Of Seaweed
Several types of freshwater microalgae, including spirulina and other types of blue-green algae, have been marketed as supplements in the U.S. since the early 1980s. Blue-green algae contains phycocyanin and alpha-linolenic acid, both of which have been shown to have chemopreventive activities. However, such freshwater algae can also contain concentrated amounts of heavy metals, as well as toxic microcystins, depending on where it is grown. Whether or not they contain heavy metals, many microalgaes are not edible. In fact, they may be harmful if consumed, and there have been instances of microalgae supplements sold that turned out to be toxic.
Since seaweeds have varying amounts of iodine and other nutrients, it can be difficult to know how much is in any given supplement. People with thyroid disorders may find that their conditions are made worse by eating kelp or taking seaweed supplements. Some seaweed also contains large amounts of sodium, which can worsen high blood pressure for those susceptible. So at Ebb Tides we say moderation is the key and just a little and often sprinkled on your food is the way to go.View full recipe
Kyle shooting some of Ebb Tides Seaweeds latest products.
Ebb Tides Seaweeds recently had a product shoot with the highly talented local photographer Kyle Baker of KB Photography Sidmouth.
Ebb Tides Seaweeds have used this gifted award winning local photographer on several occasions now and find his work outstanding.