Parla l'esperto: le alghe per l'uso alimentare Ecosalute

The expert speaks: algae for food use

Dr. De Matteis, nutritionist biologist, talks about algae and their consumption .

What are?

Algae are organisms that live mainly in ocean waters and in some cases also in fresh waters . From a food point of view, they contain:

  • Proteins
  • Essential amino acids
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins of group B
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids
  • Antioxidant substances
  • Immunostimulating substances

They are therefore also suitable for all those people who have chosen to follow a vegan diet .

Seaweed is certainly not part of the Italian or European gastronomic tradition , but with the spread of Chinese and Japanese cuisine around the world , we too have had the opportunity to appreciate it. Algae for food use are as follows:

  • NORI
  • KELP

Now we will analyze these algae to try to understand how they can be exploited for food use .


Represents a group of ocean algae belonging to the genus Fucus and Laminaria with properties similar to those of the well-known alga Fucus Vesiculosus, famously used as slimming in slimming treatments . The kelp contains iodine, mucopolysaccharides, polyphenols, vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E, proteins, lipids and carotenoids . Property slimming , stimulating the metabolism , emollients, laxative and purifying . Contraindicated in case of pregnancy, lactation, thyroid diseases and together with anticoagulant drugs.


These are algae used not in cooking, but as supplements. They possess extraordinary properties, but their discussion is beyond the scope of this article.


Agar agar is obtained from the processing of red algae and is mainly used as a vegetable gelling agent mainly in preparations such as:

  • Canned meat
  • Food jellies
  • Puddings

It can be found for sale in the form of bars, flakes or in powder form . Contains calcium , iron , vitamins A, B, C, E, K. It has satiating properties and promotes intestinal transit .


Wakame algae (Undaria Pinnatifida) is a brown algae and, like all brown algae , is rich in iodine and potassium , but also calcium, selenium, vitamins A, C, E and iron . They also contain fucoxanthin , an antioxidant substance with properties that also stimulate metabolism . They also have a satiating and slightly laxative action.

Their richness in omega 3 fatty acids is also noteworthy. The high iodine content, like most algae, promotes weight loss, but they are contraindicated for those suffering from thyroid diseases . They have a strong flavor and wakame are used in salads, soups, or on their own as a side dish. In Japan , this seaweed is eaten fresh just blanched. It is sold as a dry food, to be rehydrated for twenty minutes before cooking.


The Kombu seaweed (Laminaria Japonica) is a Japanese seaweed also called sea cabbage due to its dark brown color and lives in the waters of Japan and Brittany (Laminaria Digitata). It is rich in potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iodine, vitamins A, B, C and calcium as well as glutamic acid .


  • Stimulate the immune system
  • Purification of the organism
  • Improve blood circulation
  • Promotes evacuation
  • Stimulates the thyroid
  • Promotes the drainage of liquids

It is contraindicated in cases of thyroid disease , hypertension, insomnia, pregnancy and breastfeeding.

In the kitchen it is often used in cooking legumes to make them softer and in the preparation of broths and soups . It is also consumed dried, in flakes or in powder form .


It is one of the best known seaweeds as it is used for sushi . It is a Japanese red alga , scientific name Pophyra tender or vezoensis , also commonly called sea lettuce . The algae are collected , washed in the sea and then cut and processed to form sheets, which are subsequently dried . These algae contain vitamins A, C and B, minerals, selenium, iodine and omega-3s . In the kitchen it is used for the preparation of roll -shaped maki and as a wrapper for sushi and onigiri , a good side dish, also excellent as a flavoring for pasta and soups. The nori seaweed is valid as an antithrombotic , anti- eczema and makes the skin more elastic and flexible . Contraindicated in case of pregnancy, lactation and thyroid diseases.


It is an oceanic red alga with the scientific name Palmaria Palmata, so called because it resembles a hand with open fingers. Contains vitamin C, iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and iodine . Excellent after sports to replenish minerals, to combat anemia and herpes . In the kitchen it can be eaten both raw and cooked, to flavor any dish. Contraindicated in case of pregnancy, lactation, thyroid and metabolic diseases.


Sea lettuce (Ulva Lactuca), is a very common alga in the Mediterranean Sea and in cold and temperate seas, it resembles the common lettuce. Contains large amounts of vitamin C (more than orange), iron (12 times more than lentils), calcium (30 times more than milk) and magnesium . In the kitchen it can be eaten together with grilled vegetables, in soups, sauces and salads and has a delicate and slightly spicy flavor.


Irish Moss is a red alga that lives along the coast of Ireland. It is rich in fiber, protein, and mineral salts . It can also be eaten raw. Being rich in carrageenan , it is an excellent natural gelling agent , which can be used for the preparation of desserts, puddings and creams, or to thicken soups and soups.


Spaghetti di ma re (Himantalia Elongata) are seaweeds that commonly grow in Portuguese waters , have a brown color , fleshy consistency and slightly sweet flavor, with a shape reminiscent of the common local spaghetti. In the kitchen it should be rehydrated and cooked for ten minutes as a side dish for main courses or added to soups, stews, omelettes, pasta, rice and cous cous.

Author: Dr. Giuseppe De Matteis, nutritionist biologist


  1. Teubner '' Algae, nutritional properties and health benefits '' Edizioni Il Punto d'Incontro