Seaweed health benefits and seaweed eating have been mainly explored by island and coastal peoples. Japanese culture has developed seaweed cuisine to a notable level. The flavours and textures add a subtle and exotic element to Japanese food which has made it increasingly popular in the west. They have perhaps exploited seaweed's culinary possibilities more than any other nation. Where most nations manage one or two seaweed types at most, the Japanese have five common types in regular use. In Japan people take seaweed eating seriously; as much as 4 kilograms is eaten per person per year!
Seaweeds are algae and they have unique health and nutritional properties. Algae use sunlight to photosynthesise food for themselves but they are far simpler in structure than most land plants.