High blood pressure, strokes and early deaths could be prevented by replacing table salt with seaweed granules in bread and processed foods, scientists claim.
The benefit of seaweed as a salt substitute is just one aspect of its potential, a study has found.
It also contains a vast array of vital micronutrients, while consumption is said to make consumers feel full, which means it could be useful in reducing obesity levels.
Seaweed could theoretically provide a valuable new food source for a world struggling to feed rising populations.
A study by the Government-funded Food Innovation Project discovered that consumers find it almost impossible to tell when seaweed granules replaced salt in baked goods.
Two of the UK’s five major supermarkets are considering using it in breads following taste tests and research confirming its safety.
Scientists at Sheffield Hallam University have been working with commercial suppliers to produce granules from Arctic wrack seaweed, found off the coast of the UK and Norway.
The idea is that these could be used to replace salt in supermarket ready meals, sausages and even cheese.
The research also suggests the granules can destroy or inhibit the growth of food poisoning bugs in meat products.
The granules are healthier because their sodium level is just 3.5 per cent compared with the 40 per cent in salt used by the food industry.
Seaweed has long featured in the diets of families in China and Japan.
Dr Craig Rose, of the Seaweed Health Foundation, said: ‘It has a very good and defined taste, which can be a great benefit for various foods.’