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Meet the Superhero of the Sea!
Wait.. before we get started about seaweed, we need to back up and understand algae. Essentialy seaweed is algae and algae is known as seaweed (huh?!) So what came first.. Seaweed or Algae?
It's a little bit confusing. The term seaweed is the common name for marine algae; technically seaweed refers to large macroscopic algae (MACROscopic means it can be seen by the naked eye without a microscope). Many forms of algae are single-celled and microscopic including Spirulina & Chlorella which are forms of algae but not considered seaweed; meaning that only large algae that we can see are called seaweed.
The terminology comes from the latin word Alga, which of course, means seaweed. Makes sense, right? And so what are algae?
Algae are essentially plants of the sea; the only difference being that they don't have stems, roots, or leaves. Back to seaweed.. so seaweed belongs to the algae family and comes in various forms and sizes, and divided into 3 groups: brown, red, green. Just like any green leafy plant, it's amazingly rich in nutrients, packed w/ minerals, antioxidants & vitamins that provide powerful health benefits.
Although there are over 12,000 varieties, the seaweed that seems to be getting the most hype rn is brown algae, known as Kelp. You might be familiar with Kombu and wondering what the difference is between Kelp & Kombu.. well Kombu IS Kelp it typically refers to dried kelp; Kombu is the Japanese term for Kelp.
And what the heck is Wakame anyway?
Wakame is another type of Kelp often used in seaweed salads, the term comes from Old Japanese where edible seaweed was called "me". In terms of taste, all seaweeds have a different taste profile, some sweeter, some bitter, what they have in common is that in general they contain amino acids called glutamates which have a salty, rich, savory taste known as umami.