Edible algae: types, properties and benefits


Did you know that there are some types of algae that are suitable for consumption? More and more people are including these organisms that grow in the oceans within their daily meals to lead a healthier and more balanced diet. Algae are organisms that grow mainly in the aquatic world and can present a great variety of colors and shapes. However, those that we consider as edible can be classified as green, red and brown or brown.

Edible algae types, properties and benefits

But why has it become such a well-known food around the world? Edible algae are being used in different cuisines around the world for their great health benefits since they provide in insignificant amounts a large concentration of nutrients. If you want to know more about this popular food, in the following article of we will explain different aspects about edible algae, their types, properties and benefits.

What are seaweeds?

Seaweeds are organisms with the capacity to make oxygenic photosynthesis that live mainly in aquatic environments (either fresh or salty), although they are also grown in different coastal areas. Currently 25,000 different species have been discovered around the world, but only 50 of them are suitable for human consumption.

These organisms defined as eukaryotes can be of two main types: unicellular or multicellular. However, seaweed rated as edible according to its color is also currently being classified:

  • Red algae: they have this tone due to their richness in Bili proteins, a substance that causes the elimination of the green color.
  • Blue-green algae: its high chlorophyll content is the cause of the color of this type of organism.
  • Brown algae: they are only found in salty waters and their color is caused by their content in xanthophytes, iodine and other pigmenting substances.
  • Golden algae: also called Chrysophyceae and are mainly freshwater. Its color is from an intense yellow to yellow and gold tones, close to brown or brown.
  • Green algae: due to their presence of chlorophyll and starch, these algae are distinguished by having a greener shade than bluish ones.

Types of edible seaweed and how to eat them

We already know both the properties and benefits of these organisms. But how are they consumed? Below we will explain what are the types of edible seaweed and how we can consume them:


This type of algae, also known as Undaria pinnatifida, is especially rich in vitamins such as B and C complex and minerals, such as calcium and potassium. One of the most popular ways to consume Wakame is as a seasoning in salads or as an ingredient in pestos. Here we offer you several delicious recipes with wakame seaweed.

If you want to learn more, we show you all about the Properties of wakame seaweed.


It stands out for being easy to digest and for being especially rich in protein and vitamin A. The most popular way to take nori seaweed is in sushi for its delicate flavor, but it can also be the ingredient of any soup, stew or pasta dish. For example, it is common to find it also in hot dishes such as ramen. If you like this dish, here you can see an easy homemade ramen recipe.

Spirulina or spirulina

In addition to its intense bluish-green color, spirulina is an alga that stands out for being one of the foods with the highest contribution in protein (even more than eggs and meat). In addition, it also has a high content of calcium, phosphorus and different vitamins (including B12, E and provitamin A). This alga can be consumed either as a vitamin supplement, or in the form of a paste. Learn what are the properties of spirulina more thoroughly with this other post from.

Barnacle seaweed or sea branch

Its scientific name is Corium fragile and it is increasingly used in cooking for its unique texture and flavor, reminiscent of barnacles.


Fucus vesiculosus is one of the types of edible algae of brown color, which stands out for its great richness in vitamins and minerals. Due to its laxative and diuretic properties, the most well-known way to consume fucus is as a food supplement for weight loss diets. The Properties of fucus are these and more, you can just know them here.

Kombu seaweed

It has a high content of both iodine and glutamic acid so this alga is used to enhance the flavor of stews and to soften the fibers of other legumes during cooking. In this other article we show you these and other properties of kombu seaweed.

Sea lettuce

It is also known as Ulva lactuca. This alga rich in minerals such as iron and magnesium and vitamins A and C can be consumed both raw and in different broths.

Dulse seaweed

This reddish-toned algae, also known as Palmaria palmata, dillisk, disk or creathnach algae, is especially rich in iron and fiber. This seaweed can be consumed both cooked by adding it in soups and raw in salads after soaking.

Agar agar

This type is an extract that is obtained from different red algae, which stand out for their mucilage content. Due to the water-absorbing properties and its lack of flavor, agar agar is used both to thicken and to gel different kitchen dishes such as sauces, jams, jams, ice cream, creams and mousses.

Almost all of these algae, in addition to being able to eat them directly on plates, can be taken in capsules or pills of specific algae. For example, spirulina and fucus pills are very common.

Properties of edible algae

As we anticipated in previous lines, algae have become a very popular food around the world because, in addition to having a delicious taste and easy conservation, they have a high concentration of essential nutrients for our health in very small quantities.

Next, we will explain the properties of edible algae for which they have become an increasingly sought-after food for a healthy and balanced diet:

  • Healthy fats: Edible algae provide up to 5% of essential unsaturated fats. In addition, this vegetable does not contain saturated fats, that is, those that are not healthy for our body.
  • High fiber content: thanks to this, they have certain laxative and digestive properties. They also contain other fibers such as mucilages, polysaccharides that can retain several times their volume in water, so they are also considered a fairly satiating food.
  • Great source of iodine: this nutrient is considered an essential trace element for our cells to perform energy metabolism correctly. Also due to this wealth, they are an ideal alternative for vegetarians since the main sources of iodine are fish and seafood.
  • High calcium content: some edible algae can provide up to 1,400 mg of this nutrient consuming only 100 grams of this aquatic organism.
  • Rich in iron: algae are an ideal food for vegan diets because although its iron content is of vegetable origin, it also has vitamin C, which favors the absorption of this mineral.
  • Other nutrients in its composition: in addition to the above properties, algae also have a great richness in different vitamins such as A, B and E and in other minerals such as selenium and zinc.

Benefits of cosmetible algae

Due to the properties and nutrients that we have explained in the previous section, edible algae have the following health benefits:

  • They avoid some intestinal problems: due to their digestive and laxative properties, algae regulate the intestinal tract and prevent some problems such as constipation.
  • They favor weight loss: algae are very useful in hypocaloric diets since thanks to their mucilage content they reduce appetite and increase the feeling of satiety if before consuming them you took a glass of water.
  • They help purify the body: due to its contribution in alginic acid, this food helps eliminate toxins accumulated in our body.
  • They help regulate the thyroid: thanks to its richness in iodine, algae favor the functioning of the thyroid gland.
  • They favor cardiovascular health: as we have indicated, this food is rich in healthy fats, which helps us prevent high levels of bad cholesterol.
  • They prevent osteoporosis: thanks to its content of minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, algae are an excellent product to keep both our bones and teeth in good condition.


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