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Developing the knowledge behind our products

In 2011 Seagreens Trust set out, through its Seaweed Health Foundation, to establish three pillars of an industry to produce our native wild seaweeds for human nutrition: applied research to confirm their principal health benefits; quality standards in their production; and accurate public information.

Nutrition research really got under way in 2008 when the UK government sponsored the use of Seagreens® to reduce or replace salt in manufactured foods.

This led to a cascade of studies into Segreens® potential, not only as a natural antibacterial, but for weight regulation in obesity, sugar uptake regulation in diabetes, endothelial health and microbiome balance in digestion, and for its micronutrients in mental and general health.

The Foundation worked on production standards with the Biodynamic Association, and in 2016 introduced the Nutritious Food Seaweed quality assurance scheme and standard.

Public information activities began from 2012 onwards. They included an annual free access weekend at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, an annual seaweed festival on the Clovelly Estate in Devon, numerous publications and other events in the UK and overseas.

Seagreens Trust continues to tackle regulatory obstacles, improve regulatory standards, and provide an authoritative information source to health and manufacturing professionals, the media and consumers.

In particular, it has promoted a scientific understanding of the nutritional value of our native wild seaweeds, against those from industrial scale production and with very little known composition. 

A daily supplement

The latest seaweed research concurs that far from being the new gourmet vegetable promoted on 'page and plate' by fashionable restaurants, celebrity chefs and cookbooks, seaweed is most valuable to us as a modest, daily dietary supplement.

As a unique food source of all the micronutrients, including all the minerals and trace elements deficient in our agricultural soils as well as manufactured foods, we require only tiny amounts in single-digit grams, but on a daily basis since they are not sufficiently produced nor stored in the body.

This accords with the use of seaweeds in traditional diets, as in Japan or Korea where no more than a teaspoon of dried seaweed has been incorporated into everyday foods for hundreds of years.

Seagreens® has succeeded by making the most nutritious seaweeds easy to use and available to any age and budget, from a thorough knowledge of their composition and health benefits. 

“Collectively there has been an average 19% loss in magnesium, a 29% loss in calcium, a 37% loss in iron, and a really alarming 62% loss in copper (iron and copper being the only trace elements analysed for in 1940)" (1)

This is just the tip of the iceberg. And if seaweed is of value to us, it is equally important in the soil which feeds our food. 

“A deficiency of even a single trace element in a soil can prevent plants thriving, even if all the major nutrient elements, water and light are present in optimal amounts” (2)

This is why Seagreens® has conducted research in horticulture, animal feed and compost as well as in human nutrition - practical applications which can make real improvements in the foundation of health.

Nutritious food seaweed has a role to play in the whole of the food chain - itself only part of the broader balance we wish to help bring into being.

“Britain’s intake of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids has decreased while consumption of omega-6 fatty acids has gone through the roof...good health requires the two to be in balance...and the trans-fats routinely found in highly processed foods (eg. ready meals, sweets, crisps, salty snacks, takeaways) assume the same position in the brain (instead of) essential fatty acids" (3)

(1) from a study of mineral and trace element changes in Britain in 72 foods including fruit and vegetables, meat and meat products, cheeses and dairy products analysed annually between 1940 and 2002. Research by D. E. Thomas, DC, MRNT (2007) based on McCance & Widdowson, The Composition of Foods, 6 Editions, pub. Royal Society of Chemistry and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food  (MAFF).
(2) David Kinsman, Member of the Royal Horticultural Society Education Committee, Earth Matters, Science series, Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society, Volume 127, Part 1, 2002.
(3) Junk Moods, You Are What You Eat magazine, April 2006

In the scientifically proven macrobiotic approach to a balanced diet, rooted in oriental culinary traditions, “a small volume of sea vegetables, about 2%, is taken daily, eaten as a condiment, in soup, cooked with grains, beans and vegetables as a seasoning to supply minerals, (and) as a small side dish about twice aweek” - M. Kushi, A. Jack, The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health, Ballantine Books, pp. 9-11, 2003

Video: Clovelly Seaweed Festival 2016...

Strangely, Nature has limited means of replenishing the earth. 

Some people think that rain brings nutrients back to the soil, but it rarely happens, in times of floods or volcanic eruptions.

Nutrients constantly leach out from soil and rock to streams and rivers, to the Great Sea which covers mor than 70% of our Earth’s surface.

Harvesting seaweed, responsibly and sustainedly as we do, can complete this natural cycle, bringing goodness back to soil, plants and animals, and directly to our daily diet.

Furthermore, science in the service of Nature, as we pursue it, has a vital role in the future of nutritious food seaweed.

The more we know about seaweed, the more it will be valued.

The more it is valued, the more care will be taken of this precious resource.

The more research we can do, the more is being discovered about its rich nutrition and health-giving and properties.

This virtuous cycle needs the knowledgeable support of our customers and those in medical practice, the media, environmental care, the food industry and regulatory authorities - people sufficiently interested to learn more about what we are doing and still aim to achieve.

To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Seagreens® project, we have published Something for Everyone, the story of nutritious food seaweed.

Please support our efforts and purchase a copy at Seagreens.Shop.