The health benefits of seaweed are pretty much right up there with many other nutrient-dense plants.
I know this is not something that is a common ingredient for many. I have only recently introduced it into my diet.
It comes from the sea of course and has pretty much all the nutrients the sea has to offer. Before you ask the question, yes it is a superfood.
In fact, it has the largest range of vitamins, essential minerals, trace elements, and antioxidants compared to many other plants.
It is low in calories and is a great source of B vitamins and B12, which is not often found in many vegetables.
B12 is in very few non-animal foods and is one vitamin many vegetarians and vegans can miss out on.
You also get vitamins K, E, C, A, iron, magnesium, fiber, calcium, folate, selenium, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin.
Seaweed nutrition actually has up to 14 times more calcium than drinking milk and 10 more calcium than beef.
It is high in protein, as much as, if not more than legumes, low in fat and no carbohydrates.
Maybe you already enjoy the health benefits of seaweed if you like to eat sushi or a bowl of miso soup?
Of course, there are many types of seaweed, the most popular one Nori is used more for making sushi.
The name seaweed is a common name for a vast amount of algae and marine plants (1) that grow in the sea. And is probably one of the oldest crops eaten by human beings.
The ancient people of Greece, Rome, and China used it not just for food, but also for its medicinal properties. Japan has harvested this food source off the shores from around the 17th Century.
There are three families of seaweed, red, brown and green (2).
Health Benefits Of Seaweed
There are two things about the health benefits of seaweed that make it a very important addition to any diet.
Firstly, it has iodine, an important mineral imperative for the proper functioning of the thyroid, and maintain a healthy metabolism. This, in turn, will help boost weight loss.
A lack of this mineral can result in depression, inability to lose weight and fatigue.
On the other hand, there are some seaweeds which ought to be avoided.
For example, Kombu has been found to have very high levels of iodine, You should probably keep clear of it if you are pregnant and small children.
Considering all types of seaweed contain iodine, it is recommended to only eat it a couple of times a week (4).
Seaweed nutrition also has a very powerful compound called lignan.
Lignan is known for its cancer-protecting properties (5) and able to inhibit blood cell growth. This is the process fast growing tumors survive and are able to spread to other areas of the body.
Because the health benefits of seaweed contain so many antioxidants. It is the perfect food for keeping your hair and skin healthy.
It will relieve stress, improve the health of your heart, prevent hardening of arteries, prevent inflammation. Reduce cholesterol levels, and reduce high blood pressure.
In Japan, a diet high in seaweed nutrition contributes to the low incidence of breast cancer, compared to the Western world (6).
One study of people with type 2 diabetes found when given every day a powdered seaweed had up to 20% lower blood sugar levels, compared to others in the study given a placebo (7).
Lose Weight With Seaweed
Eating seaweed regularly may help shift those unwanted pounds. This food from the sea can affect the hormone leptin, which regulates weight.
One of the leptins functions is to let the brain know we have enough stored fat, we don’t need to eat anymore and we are burning calories at a normal rate (8).
It is believed because of seaweed high fiber content, it will fill you up for longer and help decrease your hunger.
Seaweed Nutrition And Arsenic
Like rice, which is also grown in water, seaweed does contain arsenic.
If the water the seaweed is harvested from has high levels of toxins then, it may be contaminated as well.
Hijiki seems to be the one with the highest levels of inorganic arsenic and is advised to avoid eating (9). While Wakame, Nori, and Kombu are free of arsenic.
Concerned about the arsenic levels, look for organically certified seaweed.
By now you are probably thinking, this all sounds fantastic. Yet, how the heck do I eat the stuff?
Here is one of my favourite websites with some great recipes (10).
Sushi is a very popular way of getting the health benefits of seaweed.
However, I don’t eat sushi, when I was pregnant with my first child, I ate it practically every day. I haven’t touched it since and that was over 17 years ago.
These days I don’t eat a lot of rice, because of its arsenic problem, so now, my preferred way of eating seaweed is usually in soups. I also enjoy dried Nori crumbled onto a salad.
If you are looking for an easier way to include seaweed nutrition, you can take spirulina or kelp powder, or a seaweed supplement.
Seaweed Face Mask
If you don’t want to eat it, you can apply it to your skin it makes the perfect face mask.
Just get some dried pieces of seaweed, put in a coffee grinder and grind to a powder, add a small amount of water to make a paste and add a teaspoon of honey.
You can add whatever you like to your seaweed facial mask, a bit of olive oil, jojoba oil, or walnut oil, a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
Apply to your face and neck, leave on for about 20 minutes and rinse off with warm water.
Whichever way you like to get your food from the sea fix, I am sure you will enjoy the health benefits of seaweed, as much as I do.