seaweed

Seaweeds have been a part of the traditional diet of coastal communities and still makes for a major dietary constituent in East Asia, particularly Japan, China and Korea.In the Korean culture seaweed is an integral cultural part of the diet.

It is served in soups on birthdays and given to women for three weeks after childbirth since it is supposed to replenish and rejuvenate the body. In Ireland and the Caribbean, seaweed-based drinks and soups are a traditional drink serving as the energy boosters after an illness. Seaweed is a type of algae that grows in salt water needing sunlight for survival.

Seaweeds are natural super wonder foods. They are nutritionally dense plants filled with antioxidants, calcium, vitamins, and have many other medicinal properties. 36% of their dry mass is minerals.

Seaweeds generally comes in three varieties: brown, red, and green. The mostly eaten are brown seaweeds such as Kelp and Wakame, followed by red seaweed, which includes Nori. If you are a Japanese food lover, you might have eaten seaweed wrapped around a sushi.

Health benefits of Seaweed

Seaweeds are the powerhouse of healthynutrients. Get your daily dosage of health with only a small amount of seaweed.

Basic nutrients

Seaweeds are full of vitamins, minerals and calcium. They have Vitamin C content much higher than that of oranges.  Seaweed is also loaded with calcium (much higher than that in broccoli) and is almost as rich in proteins as legumes.

Other nutrients in seaweed include Vitamin B-12 and Vitamin A and are richer in vitamin content than most fruits and vegetables. As seaweed absorbs minerals from the sea, it is rich in many minerals and trace elements. They also come with the benefit of more than 10 times calcium than milk and 8 times as much as beef.

High in Iodine leading to Healthy thyroid:

The seaweed’s best known benefit is that iti s rich in Iodine. It is n extraordinary source of iodine that maintains a healthy thyroid. Thyroid problems can cause goiters, a swelling of the thyroid gland. A spoonful of seaweed will take care of that.

Regulates Estrogen and Estradiol

Hormones Estrogen and Estradiol are together responsible for working of sexual organs.Seaweed is very high in lignans which are plant substances that convert to phytoestrogens inside the body. These substances help in blocking the chemical oestrogens which are responsible for predisposing people to cancers including breast cancer.

Dr Jane Teas from Harvard University published a paper that proposed that amidst the factors responsible for lower breast cancer rates in Japan  highkelp consumption might also be key. Seaweeds also help to control PMS and improve fertility.

Dietary Fiber and Weight loss

Seaweeds play an important role in weight loss and break cellulite build-up. The high iodine in seaweeds maintain healthy metabolism. Alginate, the natural fiber found in some seaweed such as kelp, helps reduce fat digestion by 75% and reduce fat absorption. The high fiber content in seaweed is good for prevention of over-eating since it gives a feeling of fullness and thus keeps a check on weight.

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Healthy Heart

Seaweed has omega-3 fatty acids that help in raising healthy HDL cholesterol levels and at the same time also lowers the harmful LDL cholesterol levels. The Omega-3 fatty acids in sea weed are also beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body.

Blood Purifying and Alkalizing

An amazing fact about sea weeds is that their chemical composition is very close to human blood plasma and thus they help to regulate and purify the blood.  Seaweeds are also beneficial in alkalizing the blood and thus help in neutralizing the over-acidic effects of our modern and diet especially the junk food that we all so love.

Detoxifying

They are rich in chlorophyll, which is a powerful, natural detoxifier helping in drawing out waste products. Seaweed removes toxins from the body and helps protect the liver from toxic damage.

Strengthens Skin and Hair

The detoxification properties in seaweed rejuvenate the skin, minimize wrinkles and improve the quality of skin. Eating seaweed encourages scalp hydration, which revitalizes dry hair hence promoting thicker and stronger hair.

Great for digestion

Scientists at the University of Newcastle in their research on alginate, a substance in brown seaweed found that it can strengthen gut mucus, help in slower digestion (so one feels fuller for longer) and are rich in fibre.  A study of the faecal flora of Japanese women found that the percentage of good bacteria in their gut was high which was directly correlated to high seaweed intake.

Side Effects

Eating a lot of seaweeds causes harm too:

  • The amount of potassium found in seaweed can cause heart palpitations among people with kidney problems.
  • High iodine may cause overstimulation of the thyroid and those suffering from hyperthyroidism should avoid it.
  • If the seaweed you have so lovingly included in your diet was grown in contaminated water, your sea weed will be too and we all know the level of contaminants in various water bodies today !.
  • The metals in some seaweed pills are dangerous to pregnant or lactating women and their babies.

One needs to ensure to not go overboard with this health food. Ensuring that you eat the right amount can help you benefit from the long list of health benefits of sea weeds.

Add Seaweed to Your Diet

You can have seaweeds in sushi. You can add them to a wrap or sandwich or toss into a salad or soup. The dried brown or green kelp seaweed strips can be added to breads, pizzas, potatoes, pastas, and casseroles. Try it crumbled over rice, baked potatoes and salads.

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