Seaweed is the term used for many different types of organic plant matter that grows in the oceans. The word is commonly used for the plant matter that can be seen washed up on surf beaches, but it can also relate to microscopic algae. Although it may not appear very useful, many different types of seaweed actually have important uses. In fact, seaweed is even farmed in many countries.
Uses of seaweed
- Many different types of seaweed are edible and are used for food. It is a part of the diet for many cultures that live near coastal areas. For example, seaweed is dried into sheets that are used in soups or to wrap sushi in Japan.
- Certain types of seaweed are utilized by the food industry to extract alginate, agar and carrageenan for their gelatinous qualities. These food additives are used in many foods, including ice-cream. Agar is also used in the medical industry as a growth culture to grow microorganisms or cells.
- Seaweed is sometimes used in diet pills. It is also a popular nutritional supplement because it is high in several B vitamins and iodine.
- Some seaweed, mostly algae, is used in the production of teeth molds in dentistry and for wound dressing in medicine.
- Many types of seaweed can be used as a relatively cheap fertilizer.
- It is also used as a ingredient in toothpaste, medicines, soap, shampoo and in many other cosmetics.