The health benefits of seaweed

July 15, 2020 | Environment
Seaweed: one of the most nutritionally-dense foods of Kingdom Plantae | Photo: Shutterstock

Seaweed is a sea vegetable that is able to extract the minerals from the seawater and pull them into its nutritional structure.

Unlike its name might suggest, it is not weed. And is it healthy and good for you? Absolutely.

But what is seaweed? It's an ocean vegetable that grows in nutrient-dense sea waters along rocky shorelines all over the world.

Seaweed, also known as marine algae, is one of the most nutritionally-dense foods of Kingdom Plantae and offers abundant minerals and beneficial polysaccharides.

In order to develop and mature, these saltwater vegetables attach to rocky formations along coastlines and float close to the water surface to harness adequate sunlight for photosynthesis.

Seaweed can be included in a broad range of recipes, such as sushi, salads, soups, and sandwiches.

Roasted seaweed sheets, for example, can be a great snack and provide a good amount of nutrition in between meals.

Seaweed sheets: the perfect healthy snack for in between meals | Photo: Shutterstock

The Ocean's Superfood

By ingesting small portions of these dehydrated seaweed wafers, your body will be fueled with over 80 minerals.

Minerals are essential nutrients for proper brain function, metabolism, and maintaining healthy bones.

Seaweed captures minerals and converts them into easy-to-assimilate nutrients that we need in our diet, especially iodine, selenium, zinc, and iron.

Iodine supports and promotes thyroid function because it helps produce hormones and repair damaged cells.

But it's also good to help buffer excessive amounts of estrogen.

Pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, and heavy metals can mimic estrogen, so they're called estrogen or endocrine disruptors.

For estrogen-dominant people, iodine that comes in seaweed is particularly helpful because it can help counter that effect.

Selenium is a superb weapon against complications associated with autoimmune conditions like Hashimoto's disease.

It's a powerful antioxidant (carotenoids and flavonoids) that helps counter heavy metals, especially mercury.

It's also involved in over 2,000 enzymes, making it a really important mineral in brain function supporting testosterone.

Since it has high levels of fibers, seaweed is great for increasing good bacteria growth in the gut.

Iron fortifies red blood cells and helps in many vital functions, including the gastrointestinal process, body temperature regulation, the immune system, and preserves energy and focus.

But the plant's compounds are also rich in potassium, calcium, thiamin, magnesium, manganese, folate, chromium, riboflavin, copper, and other healthy minerals, as well and vitamin A, B, C and E.

The marine plant also features omega-3 fatty acids - docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).

Seaweed is a good source of dietary fiber; it contains proteins and is extremely low in calories.

Consuming seaweed regularly can help stabilize weight and even contribute to weight loss.

Seaweed: you can use marine algae in sushi, salads, soups, and sandwiches | Photo: Shutterstock

Types of Edible Seaweed

There are several types of edible seaweed.

The most common varieties are nori, kombu, wakame, ogonori, umibudo, hijiki, Irish moss, dulse, bladderwrack, and sea palm.

There are several recipes in which you can add marine algae into the mix.

Try adding a sheet of nori to a wrap, stir fry or light salad. Throw kelp into a noodles dish or introduce it to your favorite homemade seasoning.

Share a few seaweed chips as an appetizer or add the sea vegetable to a bowl of tasty and hot miso soup. Experiment adding it to your keto diet.

There's obviously one relevant concern associated with edible seaweed - ocean pollution and the intake of heavy metals.

However, you can always find on the market seaweed that comes from a clean, organic environment.

As we've seen, seaweed is an important source of trace minerals.

But it is also important to underline that we only need small amounts of these micro minerals in our daily food and water consumption.

And because seaweed has concentrated amounts of trace minerals, especially iodine, you should only give a child a small portion of the edible plant.

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