Edible algae, aka sea greens, is one of the biggest food trends in 2022 because, even though it's been eaten for centuries, edible algae, including seaweed and kelp, is now being recognized as a nutritional powerhouse in Western culture like never before. As a result, the best sea greens products are more accessible than ever and easier to incorporate into any diet.
For the unfamiliar, sea greens are an excellent source of iodine, especially important for vegans, and contain a slew of other essential vitamins and minerals along with soluble fiber, amino acids, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain health and longevity. Edible algae is also an important player in the fight against climate change due to its ability to absorb carbon and nitrogen. (As Well+Good previously reported: Researchers from Harvard recently found that coastal ecosystems, which include kelp and other sea greens, absorb more than 20 times the amount of carbon from the atmosphere per acre as land forests.)
In addition to the ubiquitous seaweed salad and dried seaweed snacks you’ve likely seen or tried by now, there are dozens of innovative edible algae items available nationwide that make my list of the best sea greens products. I’ve highlighted my favorites below that feature sustainably and domestically sourced sea greens, from the cool, clean waters of the East and West Coasts.
The best sea greens products, according to a dietitian
Daybreak Seaweed Co. partners with regenerative ocean farmers that produce sustainably grown seaweed in the waters of the Pacific Ocean, giving their wakame seaweed a distinct taste that’s different than the Japanese variety. The dried seaweed is incorporated into flavorful blends such as the Golden State Seaweed Salt, Spicy Chipotle Seaweed Flakes, or my favorite, the Shichimi Togarashi with its combination of umami notes, salt, citrus, and spice. These flakes are great for adding to a salad or grain bowl, noodles, stir-fried vegetables, jammy eggs, popcorn, or using as a spice rub for meat and fish.
Maine-based Atlantic Sea Farms is the largest commercial grower of kelp in the United States. Among my favorite of its products are the puréed fresh kelp cubes, which you store in the freezer and pop out of user-friendly recyclable trays, just like ice cubes, to add in everything from salad dressings to smoothies, soups, and more.
Available in three flavors—Sea Salt, Chili, and Everything—these baked chips deliver an extra-satisfying crunch and just the right amount of salty goodness that makes them very hard to put down. They are sturdy enough for dipping (thanks to their scoop-like shape), but also great on their own as an on-the-go snack. The chips are organic and 100-percent gluten-free, made with a combination of cassava flour and tapioca flour, and contain no added sugar.
The world’s first kelp burger, these patties are a mix of ocean-farmed kelp, mushrooms, black beans, and quinoa with an extra boost of protein from pea protein. And believe me, there is nothing fishy about it! The combination of kelp and mushrooms and a mix of plant-based seasonings pack big umami flavor. Plus, the burgers are also non-GMO, soy free, and gluten-free.
This Alaska-based company makes a great line of unique kelp products, sourced and made in Juneau, using both farmed bull kelp and carefully harvested wild bull kelp. Not for the faint of heart, the two signature hot sauces pack some heat—the Original is made with piri-piri pepper and the Serrano with a combination of fermented serrano peppers and green ghost peppers. The kelp flavor is nuanced, but definitely present, making these hot sauces stand out.
Known for its zero-waste products, among the 18 varieties of tomato sauce the company offers is its Seaweed Marinara made with green kelp sourced from sustainable ocean farms off the coast of Maine. This umami-packed sauce contains ribbons of fresh kelp and wild enoki mushrooms, along with organic miso, giving it the perfect combination of deep richness, as well as bright, fresh, ocean flavor. It’s also surprisingly low in sodium, and made without additives or GMOs. It’s good on its own tossed with plain pasta, but is also a no-brainer for a seafood based pasta dish, calamari dip, or any other seafood preparation where you would think to use preserved tomatoes—add some red chili flakes to make a spicy seafood arrabbiata or use it as a base mixed with seafood stock for a seafood stew.
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