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Superfood alert: Is seaweed the new kale? Here’s what chefs have to say

Is seaweed the new superfood on the block? Find out what chefs in Mumbai think about it.

more lifestyle Updated: Feb 24, 2017 07:31 IST
Shradha Shahani
Seaweed has more vitamin C than oranges.
Seaweed has more vitamin C than oranges.(Istock)

Since 2012, kale has become every healthy person’s food to swear by. From salads to juices, it was one of the most sought-after ingredients due to its health benefits. However, in 2017, seaweed will steal the show, predict food analysts in the US. According to an American magazine, seaweed is considered a “miracle food”. Essentially, it is a macroalgae family that comprises nearly 10,000 species.

According to modern Westerners, the macroalgae is the food of last resort. (Istock)

They come in brown, red and green hues. According to modern Westerners, the macroalgae is the food of last resort. An exception to this is nori, a kind of seaweed that is used in Japanese cuisine. British food writer Jane Grigson believes nori is “the one seaweed we can count in English cooking as a vegetable”.

Interestingly, the food item has several health benefits. A research conducted by The University of Newcastle, Australia, has found that the alginates in the brown variant may inhibit the absorption of fat. Over a year ago, British chef Jamie Oliver, too, credited seaweed and drinking [alcohol] only on weekends for losing almost 30 pounds.

Health wise

Chefs back home, too, believe that seaweed is packed with nutrients and vitamins. “It is rich in vitamin A and C, calcium and magnesium. Red seaweed supplements are used to treat osteoporosis,” says Akhilesh Singh, executive chef, The St Regis, Lower Parel. Singh says seaweed is the richest source of iodine. “It is low in calories and is a great source of fibre,” he adds. Seaweed has more vitamin C than oranges, says Neville Vazifdar, owner, Royal China, Fort and Bandra (W). “It also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.”

Wakame, nori, kelp and kumbu are available at any gourmet store or supermarket in the city. (HT Photo)

But is seaweed easily available? “Wakame, nori, kelp and kumbu are available at any gourmet store or supermarket in the city,” informs Mitesh Rangras of the restaurant chain Lemon Leaf.

The next superfood?

Several reports state that the sustainable crop, which leaves no negative carbon footprint, will replace kale. And while some Indian chefs agree, several don’t. “Kale is a bitter green vegetable that many don’t prefer. But, when its health benefits came to light, it started gaining popularity,” says Swasti Aggarwal, food strategist, Foodhall, Lower Parel, who feels that seaweed has a superior taste and is twice the superfood as kale is. “It is known to add the coveted umami flavour to Japanese dishes. Now, it is being used as more than just a flavour booster. With nori chips and seaweed salad, the macroalgae has already started replacing kale,” feels Aggarwal. Vazifdar seconds the thought. “Kale is great, but seaweed has more flavour, lending more impact to food,” he says.

Highlights
  • Seaweed is rich in vitamin A and C, calcium and magnesium.
  • Red seaweed supplements are used to treat osteoporosis.
  • It is a rich source of iodine
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties.

Although restaurateur and chef Farrokh Khambata believes seaweed is as popular as kale due to its extensive use in Japanese cooking, Singh feels it won’t gain as much popularity. “Kale is accepted more widely. Many vegetarians avoid seaweed because of the smell and its origin. Moreover, kale has all the nutrients that are present in the latter, except maybe iodine. If consumed in higher quantities, seaweed can have side effects,” he says.