First, what is seaweed?
You may know it as the dark green leafy stuff wrapped around your sushi roll, however there is much more to seaweed that meets the eye!
Seaweed, also known as algae is a plant-like organism that grows in the ocean.
The different types of seaweed have been categorized by scientists, based on their coloring, cell structure, and other traits. The groups of seaweed which are commonly consumed today include:
- Green algae (sea lettuce or ulva)
- Brown algae (kelp, kombu, or wakame)
- Red algae (dulse, laver, and nori)
- Blue-green algae (spirulina and chlorella)
Where can you find seaweed?
The ocean of course!
Today most grocery stores and markets have some variety of seaweed available for purchase. If you live near or have access to an Asian market you may be able to find yourself some fresh seaweed. Other options include ordering from online supermarkets, like Amazon.
It’s a SUPER Food!
While seaweed does contain vitamins A and C, as well as calcium, it’s small serving sizes are often not large enough to get a decent boost from these nutrients. What it is best known for, is being an amazing source of a nutrient missing from almost every other food: iodine. Consuming healthy levels of iodine is important when it comes to maintaining a healthy thyroid. This is the gland in your neck which helps produce and regulate your hormones.
Unlike lettuce or kale, seaweed contains preformed omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) which makes it’s a great and reliable source of omega-3’s for vegetarians.
Extending well past your basic nutrition, research on seaweed has even suggested that this green can help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels, two hormones responsible for proper development and function of your sexual organs which can potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer.
Adding Seaweed to Your Diet
Because it is such a good source of fiber, eating seaweed helps to increase fullness and curbs your appetite. The fiber found in these sea greens serve as prebiotics, which act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria.
Some seaweed is even known to have antiviral properties which provide benefits to both bone and eye health.
But despite having several potential benefits, this sea green can be too good to be true if you aren’t too careful. For starters, just two tablespoons can have 34 times the amount of potassium found in two tablespoons of banana! Too high of a dosage like that can cause heart issues and possibly kidney problems when consumed too frequently.
While the US Food and Drug Administration regulates any commercial seaweed, it’s important to know that the FDA does not regulate supplements. So, if you are looking into taking seaweed pills, make sure you do your research and find a well-known brand with some standing and take the time to talk to your physician before you decide on any supplements!
Seaweed extracts are well known for their preventative effect in the growth of dental cavities. The anti-inflammatory properties of the seaweed are what’s responsible for any possible improvement of the functioning salivary glands and makes the oral tissues more resistant to any damage.
Add it to Your Favorite (Healthy) Foods!
Let’s be honest. If you are just trying seaweed out for the first time, it is highly doubtful that you will be eating it like a side of chips! The internet is full of great recipes and tips on how to add it with things you may already enjoy, like; sushi, tofu, miso soup, salads, vegetable stews and stir-fries, and even just a nice healthy plate of greens.
Seaweed is great to add to soups and salads as well.
In Conclusion: How It Stacks Up
- The many proven health benefits
- It is a very nutritious food.
- It can be enjoyed a few times a week, sticking to appropriate serving sizes
- Aids in thyroid health and digestive function
** If you have ANY health conditions, talk to your doctor FIRST before significantly increasing the amount of seaweed in your diet.