If you know and love sea cucumber as a food or health ingredient, you might want to know: where does it come from? When did its nutritional value become widely recognized and used?
In this post, we discuss the rich history of sea cucumber, from its consumption throughout ancient China to the modern world.
Living fossil of the ocean
Sea cucumber is known by the intriguing moniker "living fossil of the ocean." It has survived on the earth for more than 600 million years and is one of the earliest living species.
Sea cucumbers are marine animals found in the depths of the oceans. Their long, cylindrical appearance is why they are named after cucumber, the vegetable.
Over these millions of years, sea cucumbers grew and adapted to become one of the most nutritious wellness foods in the world.
Let’s explore when sea cucumber became what it is – from an ancient Asian medicinal ingredient to a convenient daily supplement.
History in Chinese dining culture
The history of eating sea cucumbers in China can be traced back to 4,000 years ago, when ancestors discovered that eating sea cucumber can enhance health and vitality.
Sea cucumbers have held a high status among ancient royalty. Since the Ming and Qing Dynasties, sea cucumber has become a Chinese imperial delicacy. During banquets at the palace, no matter how big or small, the dishes made of sea cucumber are always served, and it is always the first dish.
Because of this history, sea cucumber is still a luxury food typically reserved for the elite. Sea cucumber is also widely regarded for its daily health and nutritional benefits, which has been verified by modern scientific research.
Sea cucumber as a longstanding tradition
Sea cucumber has been revered in Chinese culture so much that items like sea cucumber-shaped pots are created and passed on to future generations.
The pottery pots in the shape of sea cucumbers preserved in the China Museum have been tested by archaeologists and confirmed to be from 4,000 years ago.
This shows how long sea cucumbers have been valued for human health – even before the invention of paper!
Sea cucumbers in modern times
When U.S. President Nixon visited Beijing in 1972, Premier Zhou Enlai held a banquet, and sea cucumber was the most important dish.
Fast forward to June of 2019, where grilled sea cucumber with green onion was selected for the tasting menu of the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan.
Clearly, sea cucumber is delicious and highly sought after, but that’s not all. Sea cucumber is an amazing immune booster with antioxidants and anti-aging properties that provide nutritious value.
These wellness properties are why sea cucumber is known in one Chinese language as hǎishēn, or “ginseng of the sea” a nod to the high nutrition similar to well-known ginseng root.
Though it’s not possible for many of us to cook and enjoy sea cucumber on a daily basis (preparing and cooking it takes a lot of time and work), sea cucumber is now available in convenient daily capsules.
At Nova Sea Atlantic, we sustainably source 100% wild-caught Canadian Atlantic sea cucumber (the unique species known by its scientific name, Cucumaria frondosa) for our capsules.
Daily consumption of Nova Sea Atlantic sea cucumber supplements allows you to reap the health benefits of it, carrying on the 4000-year traditions of Chinese natural wellness.
How our products came to be
Beginning in 2016, our parent company, AKSO Marine Biotech in Halifax, Nova Scotia, began focusing on research and development of sea cucumber for natural health products.
Over the past 6 years, we have worked with the National Research Council of Canada, and other reputable universities and innovation centers on several research projects to produce what we sell today: Nova Sea Atlantic sea cucumber supplements!
Our safe and healthy capsules supplement the absolute best in nutritional value from sea cucumbers and provide key nutrients such as sea cucumber saponins, sea cucumber polysaccharides, bioactive collagen peptides, and more!
Look for Nova Sea Atlantic sea cucumber supplements, available on Amazon!