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“Seaweeds are macrobenthic (large and attached) forms of marine algae. The vegetative plant body, generally called “thallus,” has no true roots, stems, and leaves” (BOI 2011). Seaweeds, either in refined, semi-refined, raw, or processed form, have many uses. Seaweeds are used mainly in industrial and commercial preparations of several kinds of food and drinks and in making pharmaceutical and agricultural products (McHugh 2003). Seaweed is a good emulsifier and possesses good water holding as well as oil holding, gelling, and binding properties, which make it quite useful in food and industrial applications. It is used as a binding agent in making jellies, gels, adhesives, paints, and dental creams. Seaweed is also used as a softening agent in the cosmetic industry for making organic skin care products and in manufacturing fertilizers and soil conditioners, which are favorable for the growth of plants (Pereira 2018). Seaweed is also considered a good option for feeding fish and cattle that dwell in coastal areas (McCullough 2019).
The culinary uses of seaweeds are enormous. Seaweeds such as agars and carrageenan are used in many processed food items like yogurt, health drinks, and non-vegetarian dishes (Turan and Cirik 2018). Phycocolloids such as agar, carrageenan, and alginate are extracted from seaweeds to use them as food additives or preservatives for fish, meat dishes, and baked items.
Several health benefits can be derived from seaweeds. It is a rich source of vitamins and essential minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, selenium, zinc, iodine, and iron. Vitamins present in seaweeds are vitamins A, B, C, E, and K (Elbling 2012). It is also very low in fats and contains phytonutrients, rich fiber, and antioxidants that help protect body cells from damage. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and all the vital amino acids necessary for the body. Other health benefits of seaweeds include its ability to manage obesity, diabetes, influenza, and radiation poisoning (Catarino et al. 2018). It helps in improving digestive health, dental health, cardiovascular health, and maintaining healthy skin and hair. It protects the eyes and has anti-coagulant properties. It helps in detoxification and with thyroid function since it is rich in iodine and tyrosine.