December 15,2020

Is Duckweed the Newest Superfood?

Move over soybeans, there’s a new plant protein in town! Duckweed is a family of plants known as Lemnoideae, and it’s become one of the most promising new superfood possibilities. The PlantX Medical Advisory Board has been abuzz about this new development because of its unique nutritional density. If you’ve been out and about and seen a pond or other body of water covered in small green plants, then it’s likely that you’ve seen duckweed. This potent plant has been finding its way into all kinds of products, from shakes to frozen cubes. What is duckweed, and what makes it such a promising superfood? Keep reading to find out!

What Is Duckweed?

Duckweed, sometimes called “water lentils”, are a type of aquatic plant that grows on the surface of slow moving bodies of water like ponds, swamps, and other wetlands. There are a number of different kinds, but none of them grow much larger than a centimeter wide. They most often appear as an oval-shaped green leaf, with an appearance similar to a clover leaf or a green lentil. Duckweed is a big element of the diets of many kinds of ducks (duh!), fish, and other wetland animals, but researchers have found that the nutritional value of duckweed could mean it might become an important part of our diet too. 

Benefits Of Duckweed

The benefits of duckweed seem to be endless: a 2017 study by nutritional scientists have found that these tiny plants contain levels of vitamins, minerals, and even protein that are higher than almost any other vegetable! Some species of duckweed have been found to have protein make up 40% of their dry weight, about as much as medium sized chicken egg. This protein content has led to hundreds of years of consumption in some areas of Southeast Asia, where it grows naturally. This protein power also comes with a ton of other nutrients:

 

  • All essential and conditional amino acids
  • Polyphenols
  • Dietary fiber 
  • Vitamins A, B complex and B12
  • Iron and zinc

 

These are all found in volumes greater than in most other vegetables, so duckweed is really punching above its weight class. Doctor Eva Weinlander of the Stanford University School of Medicine and a member of PlantX’s medical board had this to say about the nutritional potential of duckweed:

A quote from Dr. Eva Weinlander about the nutrition of duckweed.

“Duckweed is full of healthy polyphenols, not far behind apples and spinach. Polyphenols are potent anti-inflammatories, protecting us against chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, infections, aging, asthma etc. Mix it with cold water, or your favorite smoothie, and you will also get a healthy serving of protein, lots of prebiotic fiber to feel full and feed the good gut bacteria, necessary vitamins, and a small amount of the good-for-you fat.”

Dr. Eva Weinlander, PlantX Medical Board

How Fast Does Duckweed Grow?

Even more reason to be optimistic about duckweed is how easy it is to grow. As you might expect, it grows like a weed! It can be grown nearly anywhere and doubles in mass every 72 hours. Per gram of protein, it uses only a fraction of the water needed to grow other common plant protein sources. 

 

Practicality is another aspect of duckweed that makes it a promising candidate. Duckweed has a neutral flavor like other leafy greens, so it goes perfectly in smoothies, snacks, baked goods, and nearly anything else you can add it to. There are only a few products currently on the market that use duckweed, but keep an eye out for duckweed at PlantX. In the meantime, consider getting a PlantX gift card and browse our selection to see our favorite superfoods!