Manna From the Seas: Israeli Researchers Develop ‘Superfood’ Seaweed
Israeli researches have found a way to grow an enriched seaweed “superfood” using a novel, environmentally-friendly approach.
The method used by researchers from Tel Aviv University and the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute in Haifa resulted in an up to 25 percent increase in seaweed biomass daily, “with significant enhancements” in the levels of protein, healthy carbohydrates, and minerals in its tissues within days, they wrote in a paper published in the August edition of Innovative Food Science and Emerging Technologies, a peer-reviewed journal.
Seaweed is already regarded as a nutrient rich food with significantly higher mineral content than land-growing plants. Ph.D. student Doron Ashkenazi, who led the research, said that with the technological approach he and his team developed, “a farm owner or entrepreneur will be able to plan in advance a production line of seaweed rich in the substances in which they are interested.”
The researchers growing approach, and aquaculture in general, is also not dependent on large amounts of land, fresh water, or fertilizer, making it a more environmentally-sustainable way to farm compared to land-based agriculture.
“This can be used as health foods or nutritional supplements; seaweed with a particularly high level of protein, seaweed rich in minerals such as iron, iodine, calcium, magnesium, and zinc, or in special pigments or anti-oxidants,” Ashkenazi said. “The enriched seaweed can be used to help populations suffering from malnutrition and nutritional deficiencies … as well as supplements to a vegetarian or vegan diet.”
In a Wednesday press release, Tel Aviv University noted that “the use of seaweed as a rich food source that meets all human nutritional needs is even reminiscent of the biblical manna that fed the Israelites in the desert.”
“Today, integrated aquaculture is beginning to receive support from governments around the world due to its environmental benefits, which include the reduction of nutrient loads to coastal waters and of the emission of gases and carbon footprints,” TAU added. “In this way, it contributes to combatting the climate crisis and global warming.”