Spinach and kale are famous leafy superfoods, but there’s another delicious green ingredient you should consider adding to your shopping list — seaweed.
Salty, delicious seaweed (like the kind your sushi is wrapped in), is about as nutrient-dense as they come, boasting some surprising and impressive health benefits. If you are looking to explore some new and unusual superfood options, seaweed is definitely a good choice. Here’s why.
1. An Excellent Source of Iodine
Consuming healthy levels of iodine is essential maintaining a healthy thyroid, a gland in your neck which helps produce and regulate hormones. A malfunctioning thyroid can result in a wide range of symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain. A healthy thyroid, on the other hand, helps your body use energy, regulate your temperature, and is essential to brain, heart, and muscle health. Just one gram of brown seaweed contains between five to 50 times the recommended daily intake of iodine.
2. May Reduce Your Risk Of Cancer
Research studies from The University of California Berkeley and The Journal of Nutrition have found that there are phytonutrients present in seaweed that can reduce a woman’s risk of developing estrogen-related cancers, like breast cancer. Seaweed can help prevent the overproduction of estrogen, which plays a role in the development of breast cancer. In addition, a study conducted by the American Association for Cancer Research found that brown seaweed contains a compound called fucoidan. Fucoidans can eliminate cancer tumor cells while leaving healthy cells intact.
3. Helps Balance Your Blood Sugar
Preliminary research has revealed that vanadium, a mineral found in seaweed, might increase insulin sensitivity, decrease glucose production and increase our bodies’ ability to store carbohydrates.
4. Can Fight Off Cold Sores
A 2009 study discovered that that compounds found in seaweed help prevent the replication of the herpes virus that causes pesky and embarrassing cold sores.
5. Protects You From Free Radicals
Free radicals are damaged cells that can be problematic for your body. Antioxidants are compounds that stop these damaged cells from reproducing, and seaweed contains these in spades, including carotenoids, flavonoids, several types of alkaloids, antioxidant vitamins C and E, and antioxidant minerals like manganese and zinc.
6. Can Fight Bloating
Seaweed contains the mineral magnesium, which is a natural diuretic that can help you eliminate excess water weight. Magnesium is involved in over 300 different functions in the body. Unfortunately, magnesium deficiency is thought to be one of the most common nutritional deficiencies in the modern diet.
7. Contains Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Seaweed is one of the few vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are important for heart health and cognitive functioning.
8. Gives Your Brain A Boost
Seaweed is a good source of vitamins B1, B12 and omega-3 fatty acids. These three compounds are great for warding off fatigue and depression while enhancing cognitive functioning.
9. A Heart-Healthy Food
Seaweed helps your cardiovascular system in two specific ways. First, it has what are called antithrombotic benefits, meaning compounds in seaweed can prevent your blood cells from forming clots that could cause a stroke. Second, eating seaweed has been shown to reduce total cholesterol levels and LDL (bad) cholesterol.
10. Low-Calorie, Nutrient-R
Seaweed is high in vitamins B12, C, D, E and K and the minerals potassium, selenium, calcium, iodine, nickel, bromine, chromium, copper, zinc, nitrogen, boron, sulfur, and soluble fiber.
Now that you are familiar with all of the heath benefits of seaweed, you probably are wondering how you can add it to your diet. The good news is that seaweed is not just for sushi. You can add it to salads or roast it and eat it as a snack.
One of our favourite seaweed dishes is this Cucumber Seaweed Salad from World’s Healthiest Foods.
Cucumber Seaweed Salad Recipe:
- 1 Tbsp dried arame sea vegetables
- 3 cups cucumber, peeled, seeds scooped out, sliced
- 1 medium tomato, seeds, and excess pulp removed, sliced
- 1 Tbsp minced scallions
- 3 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp finely minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
- Extra-virgin olive oil to taste
- Salt and white pepper to taste
- Rinse and soak arame in warm water while preparing the rest of the ingredients.
- Peel cucumber and cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds with a small spoon and slice thin.
- Cut tomato in half crosswise and squeeze out seeds. Quarter and cut out excess pulp. Cut into slices about 1/4-inch wide.
- Whisk the rest of the ingredients together. Squeeze out excess water from seaweed. Chop if necessary. You do not want seaweed pieces to be too large. Toss everything together and serve immediately.