Seaweed benefits your health in so many ways which makes me wonder why so many people I've spoken too said that the only seaweed they've ever seen was on the beach. But not that they would consider eating vegetables from the sea. Except, maybe that green stuff wrapped around their sushi rolls. Little do they realise that this algae has immense healing powers. And did you know that eating sea vegetables regularly can be a valuable source of essential vitamins and minerals, many of which aren't even found in the other foods we consume? Sea vegetables can help inhibit tumour growth and they can also boost immunity and prevent macular degeneration.
Whether you call it seaweed or sea vegetable, they contain some mighty protective compounds that could help ward off some serious health threats, especially in the case of cancer. People sometimes make fun of me when I tell them that I'm going to a Japanese sushi bar to get my medicine in the form of Miso, a soup with seaweed. I always look at it as part of my healthy eating program. Miso is a traditional Japanese paste made from fermented soya beans and is rich in health-giving properties. The soup is usually accompanied by a seaweed known as wakame but it can also come with other ingredients such as tofu, mushrooms, spring onions or a variety of other vegetables.
Not only is miso soup made with wakame seaweed delicious, but it's extremely good for your health. Also, there's no need to worry about the taste of the sea. You won't even notice it. And because miso is a fermented food, your stomach acid doesn't have to work as hard to break down its enzymes. As a bonus, especially for vegetarians and vegans, Japanese miso is said to contain small amounts of vitamin B12, a nutrient most commonly found in meat and meat products. So, when next, you visit a sushi bar near you, ask your waitron to serve you some Miso Soup.
It might look a little odd and it may taste weird but seaweed is good for you and it has numerous health benefits. We're not just talking about the kind of stuff you find at your local sushi bar. I'm talking about the super seaweed stuff. While I haven't yet proved it but I'm almost sure that "seaweed" or "sea vegetables", was the first food we as a human species ate. Now as weird as it may look or taste, you need to give it a try sometime.
It sounds better when we refer seaweed to sea vegetables because the thought of eating seaweed may suggest wanting to throw up. But when you consider that we are aware that vegetables are good for us, it could take on a whole new meaning and for better health. We need to also consider the fact that the vast population of Asian inhabitants such as the Chinese, Japanese and Koreans are some of the healthiest people in the world. While it's extremely versatile and can be used in so many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups, stews and salads, sea vegetables in these countries are consumed on a daily base. And better still, seaweed is highly nutritious.
Sea vegetables are all forms of algae that grow in the sea. While sea vegetables grow in clean waters along rocky shorelines, some of the good stuff you buy at the supermarket or health store are cultivated on farms that produce the product in deep clear waters so as not to contain any pollutants. Not only are sea vegetables a good source for human consumption but they are a good source of vitamins, minerals and trace elements for our oceans. They come in different forms and can range in colour from black to brown to red and green.
Studies have shown that seaweed helps reduce fat absorption by up to 75 per cent. Seaweed contains many vital vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, E, K, D and B. It also contains iodine, selenium, calcium, Cobalamin, Magnesium and iron. Seaweed, also known as macro-algae refers to several species of macroscopic, multi-cellular, marine algae. The term includes some types of red, brown, and green macro-algae.
Daily Value* Total Fat 0,6 g 0% Saturated fat 0,2 g 1% Polyunsaturated fat 0 g Monounsaturated fat 0,1 g Cholesterol 0 mg 0% Sodium 233 mg 9% Potassium 89 mg 2% Total Carbohydrate 10 g 3% Dietary fibre 1,3 g 5% Sugar 0,6 g Protein 1,7 g 3% Vitamin A 2% Vitamin C 5% Calcium 16% Iron 16% Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B- 60% Cobalamin 0% Magnesium 30%
While I don't want you to go off to the beach and help yourself to some free seaweed found floating near or on the shoreline. That stuff is not only hard to digest, it's also highly polluted and contains toxic substances. Below are some super seaweed varieties you can try.
If you're among the strictest of vegetarians, meaning that you don't eat meat, meat products, milk, cheese or eggs, you may very well want to add some seaweed to your palette of land vegetables. And the reason for this is that it's an extremely helpful way to ensure you're getting adequate amounts of vitamin B12.
Although there is some controversy about just how much vitamin B12 sea vegetables and miso provide, those of you who are vegan and vegetarian and dine on miso soup and seaweed will have higher levels of vitamin B12 in your blood than those who don't.
One study of strict vegetarians found that those who regularly ate vegetables from the sea had blood levels of vitamin B12 twice as high as those who didn't eat the vegetables.
Without adequate amounts of vitamin B12, you can experience fatigue, memory loss and nerve damage resulting in tingling of the hands and feet. Although few people are at risk for vitamin B12 deficiency, it can be a real concern for strict vegetarians as well as some elderly people who have trouble absorbing this nutrient.
Getting back to seaweed benefits, we have to go back hundreds of years - no make those thousands of years to ancient Asian cultures. These people have been using sea vegetables to prevent and treat numerous health concerns including cancer. In more modern times, research has indicated that there's more than a little scientific evidence supporting the ancient healing methods of seaweed.
There have also been some interesting studies showing that sea vegetables can prevent tumours and that it may be partially responsible for the lower cancer rates in countries like Japan where sea vegetables are a ubiquitous as our potato.
Japanese researchers have studied the effects of extracts from several different kinds of sea vegetables on cells that have been treated with potent cancer-causing agents, And the results showed that sea vegetables may very likely have tumour-squelching powers.
Though scientists are unsure which compounds in sea vegetables are responsible, they do suspect that it may be beta-carotene, the same antioxidant compound found in such things as carrots and sweet potatoes. The seaweed called Nori (also known as laver), which comes in dried sheets, is a good source of beta-carotene.
Researchers suspect that sea vegetables may have cancer-fighting compounds that simply aren't found in their land-loving counterparts. For example, a compound called sodium alginate, which is found in high concentrations in seaweed, could have cancer-fighting abilities. All these areas have to be more fully explored.
At some , I would like to do some of my research into the health benefits of seaweed and perhaps unravel the mystery that it's possible sea vegetables were some of the first foods humans ate.
If you would like your blood to have the strength of the sea itself, a dose of vegetables from the deep waters can help. One ounce of kelp, a thin, tender sea vegetable often used in soups and stir-fries, provides about 50 milligrams, 13 per cent of the Daily Value (DV) of folate, a nutrient that helps break down protein in the body and aids in the regeneration of red blood cells. An ounce of Nori, the sea vegetable frequently used in sushi, provides about 42 milligrams, 11 per cent of the Daily Value of this vital mineral.
Kelp also contains magnesium, a mineral that has been found to keep high blood pressure in check, especially if you are sensitive to sodium. One ounce of kelp has more than 34 milligrams or almost 9 per cent of the DV of this heart-healthy nutrient.
While you may never know the answer, you won't see many whales swimming around with the sniffles. Possibly because of all the sea vegetables, they are skimming off the ocean's swells. Certain varieties of sea vegetables are packed with important vitamins and minerals that boost immunity and help fend off a host of diseases.
Topping this list is the nutritious Nori. One ounce of raw nori contains 11 milligrams of infection-fighting vitamin C, more than 18 per cent of the Daily Value. Vitamin C is an antioxidant known for its ability to sweep up harmful, tissue-damaging oxygen molecules called free radicals. You can read more about free radicals here.
An ounce of nori also delivers nearly 1,500 international units of vitamin A, 30 per cent of the Daily Value. Studies have shown that vitamin A not only builds immunity but also can safeguard against night blindness and vision problems associated with ageing such as macular degeneration. Also, vitamin A can protect against several kinds of cancer. Dried nori seaweed sheets are used as part of the preparation for sushi but it can also be used in risottos and soups.
The first you pull a flat green sheet of dried nori from its wrapper your reaction almost certainly will be - How the heck am I supposed to eat this? Nori, also known as laver is sold in paper-thin, green dried sheets. It has a mildly briny flavour and is generally used to wrap around sushi, float in soups or accentuate salads and pasta. When adding nori o a dish, use scissors to cut it into strips. Or you can simply tear it with your hands and sprinkle it into the foods, stirring to keep it from clumping.
Although seaweed, which is sold in health food stores and Asian markets, does look strange, it's surprisingly easy to work with. It's important, however, to know which kind you're getting since each is handled somewhat differently.
Wakame, also known as Alaria (brown alga) is a seaweed traditionally used in Miso soup. When using wakame for salads or pasta dishes, simply soften it in water for about 2 to 3 minutes and then cut it into slivers. Wakame can be quite chewy but cutting away the stiff midrib will help make it tender.
Dried Dulse has deep-red and wrinkled leaves which can be eaten straight from the package. It can be quite salty, however, so you may want to rinse it first. Like nori, dulse is typically snipped and added to soups, stews and pasta dishes. It is also available in ready-to-use flakes.
Hijiki is one of the stronger tasting seaweeds. Hijiki, also spelt Hiziki, resembles black angel hair pasta in it's packaged form. To tame its wild briny flavour, soak it for 10 to 15 minutes before draining. It will quadruple in size when hydrated. Chefs recommend simmering hijiki for about 30 minutes or until tender, then adding it to salads, vegetables or bean dishes. It can also be drizzled with sesame oil and eaten as a side dish.
Japanese Kombu, sold in wide, dark green strips, similar to that of kelp, is often added to soups and stews as a replacement for salt. Chefs will sometimes add strips of kombu as a seasoning to bean and grain dishes. Also, roasted kelp chips make a great garnish.
Rinse Lightly. Since many of the valuable trace minerals in dried sea vegetables are on the surface, it's best to use a light touch when rinsing them before cooking. Some people soak the life out of them and you certainly don't want to do that to your sea vegetables. Otherwise, you'll lose a lot of the surface minerals, like potassium.
Invest in stock. The best way to retain the maximum amount of nutrients is to make soup out of your sea vegetables. When sea vegetables are used in soups, some of the minerals are released into the broth. The remainder provides valuable fibre and unique phytochemicals such as the alginate found in kelp.
Eat a variety. It doesn't take a lot of sea vegetables to get the benefits. Nutritional studies indicate that as little as 1/4 ounce of dried sea vegetables can make a significant nutritional contribution to your diet and overall health. The best way to include more sea vegetables into your diet is to experiment. Add small bite-size pieces to salads, soups, stews, whole grain dishes and stir-fries. You can even add sea vegetables to sandwiches if you feel adventurous.
Although sea vegetables contain an array of healing nutrients, they also contain a few, like iodine and sodium, that, in large amounts, aren't so helpful.
You need small amounts of iodine for processing protein and carbohydrates. Also, your thyroid gland requires iodine to regulate growth and development. But a little goes a long way. You only need about 150 milligrams a day.
Sea vegetables, however, may contain many times that amount. People who eat a lot of sea vegetables may find themselves getting too much iodine. 1,000 milligrams a day is considered the upper limit - which can make the thyroid work less efficiently.
Another mineral that sea vegetables carry by the boatload is sodium. Too much sodium can cause high blood pressure in people who are sensitive to it. If you are sensitive to sodium, rinsing sea vegetables before cooking will reduce the sodium content by about 10 to 20 per cent. Soaking them in water will reduce the levels of sodium even more, by about 50 to 70 per cent, depending on the variety you are using.
Please take note that the information on this site is designed for educational purposes and is intended solely for general readership. The contents herein are not intended to offer any personal medical advice or to diagnose any health issues you may have. This information is also by no means a substitute for medical care by a licensed healthcare provider. For that, you'd need to consult your medical doctor or a health care practitioner for any advice should you require prescription medication.