Health Benefits Of Seaweed And How To Use More Of It
Seaweed is one of those superfoods that can do no wrong. From wrapping up our favorite sushi rolls to oxygenating our oceans, there is an endless list of reasons why we love this green goodness. Seaweed is unlike most other plant-based foods and the unique features of the marine environment in which it grows are largely responsible for most of the plants rare properties.
With mounting research showing just how nutrient-dense this food group is, more and more people around the world are looking for ways to pack this into their meals. But this is where it becomes tricky. While some cultures have been snacking on seaweed for centuries, there are handfuls of us who remain clueless on how to eat more of it. Theres a strong case for eating more seaweed, and were going to show you exactly why and how you should do it.
The Benefits Of Eating Seaweed During Pregnancy
With an abundance of health benefits, seaweed is a great addition to your diet during pregnancy .
The protein present in some seaweeds, such as spirulina and chlorella, contains all of the essential amino acids .
Seaweed is an excellent source of vitamin B12, which is especially crucial if youre vegan or vegetarian as its one of the few non-animal sources .
It is also full of vitamin C and helps in aiding the absorption of iron present in seaweeds .
Seaweed is a good source of several minerals, including calcium, copper, iodine, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc .
The iodine level in seaweed, mainly brown seaweed, helps promote healthy thyroid activity, while the iron is essential for hemoglobin production during pregnancy .
As previously mentioned, brown seaweed is best limited to once a week, though the iodine it contains is still essential during pregnancy.
Adequate iodine intake helps prevent neurological impairment in the developing baby and positively impacts the babys cognitive skills . Brown seaweeds also have anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce joint and muscle pain .
Seaweeds are a good source of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which are helpful for fetal brain development .
Seaweeds are also excellent sources of fiber, which is known for helping with common pregnancy ailments such as constipation and other digestive problems .
It May Help With Thyroid Function
The thyroid gland controls and releases hormones for energy production, growth, and cellular repair. The thyroid needs iodine to function correctly, but the amount that a person requires depends on the health of the thyroid.
The type of seaweed and the location in which it was grown can alter the iodine contents, which can make it an unreliable source of iodine.
According to research from 2021 , the consumption of several whole food seaweed or food products containing seaweed can cause excess iodine intake. Some seaweed dietary supplements may not provide adequate iodine, while others offer more than the Daily Value.
Iodine deficiency is one cause of hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid that can cause symptoms such as fatigue, cold intolerance, and sore muscles and joints. It can also cause a goiter, which is a visible enlargement of the thyroid gland.
However, excessive iodine intake may worsen a persons symptoms of hyperthyroidism. This occurs when an overactive thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of hormones.
Read Also: How To Make Chicken Salad From Scratch
What About Spirulina And Other Types Of Algae
A word of caution is to check whether what youre buying is actually seaweed or algae. Spirulina and chlorella are both highly acclaimed supplements , but they are algae.
Chlorella is the cousin of spirulina. They both help in strengthening the bodys cardiovascular system.
People with autoimmune diseases need to be very cautious with algae as they stimulate the immune system, which isnt a good thing in their case.
Another caveat goes back to the iodine levels in these plants. For many people, the extra iodine is beneficial.
For those with thyroid dysfunction or under chronic stress, which places a strain on the thyroid, its not always such a good thing.
A final consideration is the potential interactions between seaweeds and pharmaceutical drugs.
Certain seaweed varieties can interfere with medications such as blood-thinning drugs and those for hyperthyroid conditions.
What are hyperthyroid conditions? Hyperthyroidism is a thyroid condition wherein the glands produce more hormones than they should.
If you have any form of a chronic health condition, especially related to cardiovascular or thyroid health, please seek sound advice from a healthcare professional before adding seaweed to your diet.
Where To Buy Seaweed
Its likely that your local grocery store might not have a good selection of seaweed. But take a look anyway, as you might be surprised! Also check your local health food stores, such as food co-ops and bigger chains like Whole Foods. If youre lucky enough to live near an Asian market, youll definitely find a wide variety of seaweed available there.
If all else fails, you can order seaweed online quite easily. Its available from all major online stores and you might even find it at a discount. Just remember to shop with a careful eye out for the organic, heavy metal-free varieties of seaweed.
Also Check: Can Eating Salad Cause Diarrhea
Health Benefits Of Seaweed
Most Americans only consume seaweed when they visit a Japanese restaurant.
You’ve probably had seaweed in salad, miso soup or in the wrapping around a sushi roll. But seaweed is more than a decoration on your sushi plate.
According to a study published on Biomed Central, all varieties of seaweed offer nutrients and distinct flavoring for many cuisines. Umami, a Japanese term for fifth taste, is becoming popular among Western chefs looking for different ways to add flavors to their dishes..
Sometimes referred to as sea or marine vegetables, seaweed adds taste and texture to salads, burgers and other everyday dishes. It also offers many nutritional advantages in a relatively small package. You don’t need to eat a lot of seaweed to experience the following benefits.
How Much Mercury Is In Seaweed
Overall, the amount of mercury in seaweed is quite low, and therefore shouldnt be a concern during pregnancy.
That said, the amount of mercury in seaweed varies depending on the type of seaweed it is. For example, a study in Nature found that mercury levels are significantly lower in red seaweeds than brown ones .
Organic seaweed contained the least amount of mercury and other toxic elements, so you might want to choose organic seaweed throughout pregnancy.
Another 2010 study tested 426 samples of store-bought edible seaweed for their mercury content. The research found the average mercury content of food-grade seaweed was 0.01 mg/kg dry weight.
Compare this to the 0.126 mg/kg average mercury in canned light tuna, which the FDA recommends 2-3 servings per week for pregnant women
The verdict? Seaweed does contain mercury, but still less than the acceptable level in a serving of canned light tuna.
The overall mercury levels in seaweed are, according to WHO, safe for human consumption, even in places like Korea, where seaweed is consumed daily .
That means that even if you eat a LOT of seaweed, you wouldnt ingest enough mercury to impose any significant health risks for you and your baby.
As an aside, certain seaweeds such as hijiki and kombu contain traces of arsenic but, again, these are usually not in high enough levels to be of concern during pregnancy, though you may choose to avoid them.
Read Also: Healthy Cold Pasta Salad Recipes
The Seaweed Salad Diet
Seaweed provides the body with an array of health benefits due to its content of essential minerals, according to The Best of Raw Food online. Seaweed is often considered an ancient super food and was used throughout history to promote health and longevity. Seaweed is available in supplement form when food form is not available, but one way to obtain the health benefits of seaweed is in a seaweed salad. Consult a nutritionist for complete information about seaweed.
The Health Benefits Of Wakame
Wakame is considered one of the healthiest sea vegetables out there, since it’s full of minerals, including manganese, sodium, magnesium, and calcium. It also contains vitamins A, C, E, K, and B vitamins such as folate.
Scientists have historically looked at how eating seaweed might help fight cancer, since the rates of breast cancer are much lower in Japan, where seaweed is consumed on the reg. Studies haven’t been able to pinpoint one specific reason why seaweed seems to have anti-cancer properties, but they think there are several factors related to the hormones and immune system that could be involved.
Because of the overall anti-inflammatory and antioxidant levels in seaweed, researchers believe it can also help decrease the risk of heart disease. Plus, even though it’s low in fat, seaweed like wakame is actually a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been found to help with depression, ADHD, and hormone issues.
You May Like: Potato Salad With Ranch Dressing
Common Types Of Seaweed Used In Food
There are so many different varieties of seaweed used in cultures all around the world. The most popular varieties available at a store near you are typically Japanese or Asian varieties .
The most common types include seaweeds such as
- Nori the flat crispy dried seaweed used in sushi
- Wakame used for salads and in miso soup
- Kombu used to create umami flavored broths
- Dulse used as a seasoning for all kinds of dishes
- Hijiki cooked into stir-fries or served with fish
- Kelp added to salads, soups, and rice dishes
You can walk into any Asian market and find an endless variety of seaweed options. If youd like to explore more seaweed ideas, go try some dishes at your favorite Asian restaurants and then learn how to make the healthier versions right at home!
Health Benefits Of Eating Salads
There are a number of benefits that people can get from eating salad on daily basis.
- Salad is comprised of various fruits and vegetables thus, it offers increased fiber intake. With a higher intake of fiber, there would be less constipation. Higher fiber intake also helps in lowering bad cholesterol.
- Eating salad also makes the person fuller thus, there would be lesser intake of other food. Therefore, salad is one of the most effective foods to help in weight loss.
- Fruits and vegetables are also rich in antioxidants. That means that eating salad everyday helps prevent various illnesses. Antioxidants also help fight the harmful free radicals that cause aging thus, those who eat salad daily will age slowly.
- The fruits and vegetables that comprise the salad allow people to reach a significant portion of the recommended daily intake of these food items.
Also Check: Where To Buy Pomegranate Salad Dressing
Add It Into A Stir Fry Or Noodle Dish
Hijiki seaweed makes a great addition to a vegetable stir fry or noodle dish, adding a flavorful crunch and packing a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It looks similar to black linguini and can even act as a replacement for noodles. Sautee with tofu and top with soy sauce and sesame oil for a delicious Japanese-inspired dish.
Ingredients In Seaweed Salad
Most commonly used seaweed in seaweed salad is Wakame . It is commonly sesame flavored. Cloud ear mushrooms, red pepper flakes and vinegar are some other seasoning components used in making seaweed salad.
Agar, a gelatin made from seaweed, is also used for giving texture. Depending on the manufacturer, different dyes, sugar, apple, garlic, scallions, cilantro, ginger, soy sauce, and corn syrup are also added to give different colors and flavors to the salad. All these ingredients, along with seaweed, make a very healthy recipe. For instance, ginger assists your digestive system and garlic boosts your immune system.
Don’t Miss: Fruit Salad With Poppy Seed Dressing
A Daily Salad Will Aid Your Intake Of Healthy Fats
Add a couple of tablespoons of mixed raw or roasted seeds like pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and ground flax or chia to boost your daily intake of good fats. Experimenting with different kinds of oils in your dressings will help with this, too.
Slicing a quarter of an avocado and adding it to your greens will also give you a boost. These foods also help the body to absorb all of the protective compounds, phytochemicals, and lutein.
Adding a healthy fat to your salad via the dressing, or by adding healthy raw nuts or avocado will also make it more filling, as fats are among the most satiating.
The Benefits Of Seaweed
This post contains affiliate links. to read my affiliate policy.
Most of us are familiar with seaweed in our sushi, and the accompanying miso soup. But beyond the delicious taste, have you ever wondered about the health benefits of seaweed?
Incredibly rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, seaweed packs a serious nutritional punch.
Don’t Miss: How Do I Make A Caesar Salad
Complete Amino Acid Profile
Us plant-eaters know too well that its difficult to get all the proteins our body needs for day-to-day function by snacking on chickpeas, but the amino acids readily available in seaweeds like spirulina and chlorella mean we dont have to tear our hair out about food combining! For a tiny plant, the grams of protein its packing is phenomenal. It is estimated that there are 4gm of protein in 7gm of dried spirulina, so whip out the blender and get those smoothies down!
Where To Find/how To Use
Wondering where to buy wakame seaweed? You can find it dried or fresh in grocery stores, health stores or online.
Can wakame be eaten raw? Yes, it can be eaten fresh or as a dried seaweed food.
Fresh seaweed, which has a silky texture, should always be stored in the refrigerator, while dehydrated seaweed should be stored in an airtight container in a dark, dry place.
If you have dehydrated wakame, start by cutting it into small pieces, as it will expand after being rehydrated. To rehydrate dried wakame seaweed, soak it in water for about 30 minutes or until it is soft.
It can then be added to soups, stir-fries and salads. The water used to rehydrate the seaweed is also full of nutrients, so it can be used as the base of a soup.
Whenever you buy or consume any type of seaweed, its important to opt for organic because of seaweeds inherent ability to absorb whats in the water around it.
Wakame is a versatile seaweed that can be added to so many dishes. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
Here are some more wakame recipe ideas:
Also Check: All You Can Eat Soup And Salad
Simple Seaweed Salad Recipe
Short on time but want to take advantage of eating this powerhouse salad? Here is a simple recipe: a popular Japanese dish that will take less than 10 minutes to prep. Seaweed salad nutrition facts include fiber, vitamins, minerals such as iron, and iodine , which is needed for thyroid and brain health. Iodine is hard to get from food alone that is why it is added to table salt to ensure most people get some in their diet. Eat this salad to get the health benefits of seaweed salad.
For the salad, you will need:
- 1-ounce dry mixed seaweed
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
- *1/2 teaspoon ginger juice
Support Thyroid Function With Iodine And Tyrosine
If youve ever struggled with symptoms of low thyroid function, youll be pleased to know that seaweed can help you out. Its incredibly high in iodine , with some types containing up to 93% of the RDI value. Additionally it is more absorbable by the body as a natural source of iodine.
Algae like seaweed also contains the amino acid tyrosine, which is crucial to thyroid hormone production. It packs a double punch for beating thyroid issues to help you fast-track feeling better again.
You May Like: Is Salad A Good Diet Food
How To Cook And Eat Seaweed
If you live near an Asian market or Chinatown, you may be able to find fresh seaweed. Otherwise, you may find many types of dried seaweeds in the supermarket and online, such as on Amazon.
Dried seaweed would need to be soaked in hot water, and rinsed well before use. Some thicker and tougher seaweed like kombu might be better sliced thin or boiled.
Seaweeds are very versatile. Here are a few different ways to enjoy them:
- Snacking out of a bag Nori and dulse can just be eaten out of a bag. You will want to check the labels and watch out for some brands of snacking nori that contain a lot of MSG though. Seasnax is a good brand for this that uses seaweed from Korea and clean ingredients.
- Salads Most types of seaweed can be made into a Japanese-style salad with vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. Try this recipe.
- Soups Seaweed tastes delicious in bone broth, which makes it seaweed soup.
- Sprinkled on other foods Seaweed flakes can be sprinkled on salads, rice, soups, or any other dishes.
Most seaweed is not bitter. Some types are a bit sweet and may even have umami flavors, which means that it may be easier to get some picky eaters to eat seaweed than vegetables.
Where Do I Buy Seaweed
Since seaweed can be easily contaminated by waters that are not kept clean, its important to find a clean organic source. The most commonly consumed form of seaweed for salad is kelp, which is of the brown variety. Other types of seaweed used in salad include wakame, nori, sea lettuce, hijiki, dulse, or Irish Moss.
Its sometimes difficult to find fresh seaweed or pre-made seaweed salads, except at upscale markets, such as Whole Foods, or sushi restaurants and Asian specialty stores. However, many markets will sell dried seaweed that can be easily reconstituted to make the base of your salad. Just soak the dried leaves in a little bit of cold water for a few minutes and its ready to use.
Don’t Miss: Simple Grilled Chicken Salad Recipe