Health for All

Goodness of Seaweed

Seaweed is not actually a weed but a kind of sea vegetable. It grows in nutrient dense ocean waters along rocky shorelines all over the planet. As one of the most nutritionally dense foods, they are an abundant source of minerals and beneficial polysaccharides. Clean ocean waters are a nutrient-rich and sea plants thrive in them pulling in high concentrations through their wide leafy blades. They are particularly known for their large amounts of bioavailable minerals like iodine, iron and calcium.

Minerals are essential nutrients for proper brain function, metabolism and maintaining healthy bones. They are a powerful source of electrolytes as well as blood purifying chlorophyll and polysaccharides. These goodness acts as natural detoxifiers of heavy metals and other toxic substances. Many of the sea vegetables help to improve our digestion, decrease LDL cholesterol, increase bone density, lower blood pressure. In some cases it have been shown helpful for reducing excess body weight.

 Seaweeds are sea plants

Sea plants also sometimes referred to as marine algae or generally classified into three different groups. Red algae, green algae and brown algae. These different varieties are found in nearly every seaside ocean environment around the world. The species may vary depending on the location and temperature of the waters in which they proliferate.

All sea vegetables require photosynthesis in order to develop and mature. This means they must attach themselves to rocks typically found along coastlines and tide pool regions, floating close to the water surface in order to receive adequate sunlight. They are multicellular marine plants that maintain bridges cell walls and do not have roots like land plants do. But instead their entire structure acts like a feeding vessel drawing in high concentrations of food through blade-like leaves. This enables the entire plant to take in large amounts of nutrients that are especially abundant in clean cold ocean waters.

Health benefits of seaweeds

The sea plants unique design allows for a concentrated amount of minerals fertilized by the waters in which they grow. Much of our cultivated plant-based foods today are often lacking in mineral quality. Sea vegetables can be a great whole food supplement helpful for amending possible dietary deficiencies.

Eaten periodically, they are one of the best natural sources of dietary iodine. Besides this, it contain many other phytonutrients vitamins and polysaccharide, the rich long-chain sugars. Adding a small amounts of either dried whole or ground sea vegetables to soups, meals or blended into drinks, it can provide a daily dose of potent nourishment. Seaweeds used on periodic basis are an essential component to most therapeutic health regimens. Not only do they offer bioavailable nutritional elements but they help to balance body pH, protect against radiation as well as certain types of cancer.

Uses of seaweeds

Seaweeds have been consumed by coastal marine based civilizations all over the world since the dawn of human existence. In their dried state, they could be preserved for long periods of time. Dried seaweeds provides a storehouse of vital nutrition that was lightweight and easy to transport. Other then human consumption, they have been used extensively throughout history as natural fertilizers. This is because it increase production and nutritive content of land-based crops.  Asian cultures are typically known for their use.

Consumption of many types of seaweed varieties like nori, dulse, kelp or kombu commonly prepared in Japanese cuisine. The two of the most well-known examples being sushi and miso soup. Sea vegetables became especially popular in the Western world with the macrobiotic health movement popularized by Japanese teacher George Sawa in the 1960s. The macrobiotic diet and philosophy place an emphasis on using sea vegetables with cooked whole grains and beans to improve their digestibility.

Seaweed safety from contaminants

Sea plants do not seem to accumulate fat soluble pesticides and industrial wastes such as PCP, PCB and dioxin unlike marine mammals. This could be due to a number of polysaccharides that protect them against various pathogens in oceanic waters. All high-quality wild harvested seaweeds however as a precaution are often tested for waterborne contaminants such as heavy metals, radioactive isotopes, E. coli, pesticides, herbicides, mold and yeasts.

Seaweeds suppliers

Take caution and avoid any seaweeds coming from large cultivated farms that are grown near industrialized areas or radioactive locations. When it comes to purchasing your seaweeds, it is always best to choose those coming from a reputable company. The sea vegetables are grown in a certified organic manner with additional thorough testing for possible radioactive isotopes, lead, arsenic and cadmium.

Top sea vegetables

Kelp or kombu

A highly nutritious edible seaweed variety and out of all the seaweeds. It contains the widest array of concentrated phytonutrients. By far one of the most commonly consumed sea vegetables used around the world. Sometimes it is known as brown seaweed and is particularly high in iodine as well as protein content. It also contains the brown olive pigment fucoxanthin, which has been shown to help the body more efficiently metabolize fats. The powder or whole seaweed added to soups stocks can be a nourishing food for emaciated or extremely weak individuals.

Nori

Nori or Laver, grows off of coastal rocks in thin twisted formations that are not usually more than a foot long. Although it is available as flakes, it has been traditionally prepared in Asian cultures for centuries as sheets. It’s preparations are similar to the paper making process. Nori sheets are used in sushi, of course, but are also great to use as wraps to replace tortillas or bread. The most nutritious nori is the raw variety which is usually a dark green color. Bright green nori sheets have been toasted and are lower in nutrient content.

Dulse

Dulse is a red seaweed variety that is frequently found on the North West Pacific and North Atlantic coasts, Iceland, Canada and regions of Ireland and Scotland. When it is dried, it has a soft chewy texture and delicious smoky flavour. Like nori, it doesn’t require cooking, it can be enjoyed as pieces or flakes sprinkled over meals as a salt substitute. Whole pieces can be soaked briefly as the blades are fairly thin and chopped into salads. Dulse and nori are both great tasting seaweeds for those who don’t prefer stronger flavored variations.

Irish moss

Irish moss is not actually a moss but a type of seaweed that has been used for centuries in Ireland, hence the name. As a healing sea vegetable, it is prepared in soups to fortify and especially strengthen malnourished individuals. This is a very mucilaginous seaweed that you wouldn’t normally eat like other varieties.

It is traditionally brewed as a broth to release its beneficial nutrients or can also be soaked and blended as a gel and added to various foods and drinks as a nutritive thickening agent. It is a natural source of carrageenan which is used extensively in the food industry as a gelling medium.

Bladderwrack

Bladderwrack is one of the most popular sea vegetables growing along the British Isles and has been used in that region of the world for centuries. This brown sea plant is the number one superfood as far as iodine and polysaccharide content. When fresh, it is very mucilaginous and quite slimy. For this reason, it is often dried, powdered and consumed in capsule form as a supplement to one’s diet. Bladderwrack also contains significant amounts of beta carotene, algin, zeaxanthin and many other minerals. The powder can also be added to soup broths for added thickness but it tends to have a stronger taste that is not as palatable flavor-wise.

Sea palm

Sea palm is classified as a brown sea vegetable and grows on the western coast of North America and parts of Canada. It is one of the only sea plants that can survive growing out of the water as the name implies. It looks like a miniature palm tree and can be easily identified. For this reason, sea palm groves clumped together in erect stands usually above the water surface. In fact, it is one of the few sea vegetables that can remain upright when out of water a result of its thick hollow stem. It is frequently sold in its whole dried state which is quite crunchy and can be eaten straight as a snack food.

 Wakame

Wakame is also a brown seaweed packed with many minerals excellent for bone health. Like kelp, it contains fucoxanthine helpful for improving insulin resistance and burning body fat by inducing a fat burning protein called thermogenin. The fresh seaweed is identifiable by the thick vertical band as apparent in the centre of the wide blades. Whole wakame pieces are typically soaked and prepared in soups, broths, stews or added to grain or bean dishes to improve digestion, increased nutrient content and provide added thickness.

Hiiki and Arame

Hijiki and Arame grow in coastal regions of Japan, China and Korea. It is therefore important that you purchased tested sources that are contaminant free and grown in non-polluted ocean waters. Most commercial arame and hijiki are harvested from the Ise Bay Peninsula, which is about 295 miles or 476 kilometers south of Fukushima. So it’s best to get tested sources if you use it on a frequent basis. Both the seaweeds can be soaked before adding to foods or stewed in soup where it usually doubles in size. Because they are long and stringy rather than white and leafy they make a great addition to a seaweed salad or raw zucchini pasta dishes.

Seaweed nutrition

Seaweeds contain beneficial nutrients like polysaccharides, iodine, other minerals and trace minerals and are a source of natural sodium. Iodine is especially important mineral needed for healthy thyroid function and hormone production. Seaweeds are whole food sources of iodine that can help protect the thyroid gland and its primary role in regulating metabolism.

Other minerals vitamins and nutrients

Most high-quality seaweeds contain 20 times more vitamins and minerals than land vegetables. Mineral content varies from type to type but in general most are very high in iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, selenium, bromine, vanadium and sodium. Vitamins found in larger amounts include folate, beta-carotene, riboflavin, vitamin K, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, niacin and choline. There are also significant sources of dietary fiber as well as protein and small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids.

High in polysaccharides

Polysaccharides are long-chain sugars also abundant in medicinal mushrooms and are one of the healthiest food substances we can ingest. All sea vegetables contain their own array of polysaccharides. They are commonly found in the form of algin, fucoidan, carrageenan, agarose and beta-glucans. These dietary glyconutrients are helpful for building immune health, nourishing the skin, soothing inflammation, detoxifying the body and providing a long burning fuel source.

Algin

Some types of seaweed contain a polysaccharide and natural fiber called alginate or algin. The long-chain sugars guluronate and mannuronate found in Algin are thought to be effective for helping to reduce body fat and control obesity. Algún is chiefly found in brown algae seaweeds like kelp, bladderwrack and wakame.

It is prized for its ability to expand, absorbing water quickly and has been found useful as a natural appetite suppressant to increase feelings of fullness. In addition, alginate has been shown to slow down the fat digesting enzyme lipase, thereby reducing the amount of fat the body can digest and store as excess weight.

Beta-glucans

Beta glucans are known as biological response modifiers because of their ability to successfully activate and boost the immune system. Some scientific evidence supports beta-glucans effects on normalizing blood cholesterol concentrations and these polysaccharides are additionally being studied for their potential anti-tumor properties.

Fucoidan

Fucoidan polysaccharides contains sulfur molecules and are also referred to as a sulfated polysaccharide. Recent research indicates their ability to reduce pain and blood clot formation by blocking pro-inflammatory enzymes and prostaglandins. Fucoidan are found primarily in brown algae and also contain antiviral and immune boosting attributes.

Agarose

Agarose or more commonly called agar-agar is found in red algae. It has benefits to digestion as a mild laxative with properties as a gelling agent. These characteristics are released in water when it reaches a boiling temperature.

Carrageenan

Carrageenan is also from the red algae. It is a well-known component of the sea vegetable Irish moss, although it is present in other seaweeds in lesser amounts. Irish moss gel composed mostly of carrageenan, is used as a thickener and stabilizer in certain foods and desserts.

Precautions

Some seaweeds high in iodine like kelp and bladderwrack should be consumed periodically and not on a regular basis to avoid an iodine overdose and potential imbalance of thyroid function such as hyperthyroidism.

 

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