Watch out kale and all you land-dwelling greens; there’s a new leafy superfood on the scene and it comes from the sea: Seaweed! Naturally full of vitamins and minerals, seaweed in its various varieties just might be the new food – and supplement – to beat. Let’s dive a little deeper into some seaweed health benefits.
What is Seaweed Really?
When you think of seaweed, you might think of it as food strictly for marine creatures – or that gross stringy stuff at the beach. Even the name sounds undesirable: Seaweed. Weeds are bad, right?
Well, technically speaking, seaweed isn’t exactly a weed. Seaweed is actually a broad term for several species of marine algae that live near the seabed.
Okay, so knowing it’s technically algae may make it sound even more unappetizing, but stick with me. I’m not suggesting you go eat some pond scum or saying that the green stuff that grows on the glass of aquariums is good for you.
Think of seaweed as leafy greens that grow underwater – like salty spinach that takes hydroponics to a new level.
People have been eating it for a long time, and with pretty good results. In Japan, and other countries where the sea is a big part of life, seaweed health benefits from regular consumption could be part of the reason for the people’s longevity and fairly low cancer rates.
Seaweed Health Benefits
Soil isn’t the only place plants get nutrients. Part of the reason for seaweed’s high vitamin and mineral content is absorption from the water it lives in.
Although there a variety of seaweed species that people eat and each has its own unique nutritional profile, in general seaweed is a good source of:
- Vitamins A, C and E
- Vitamin B12
- Protein and amino acids
- Soluble fiber
While seaweed clearly has health benefits for anyone, it may be particularly beneficial for a few key groups of people.
- Vegans and Vegetarians. B12, iron and a good balance of amino acids are among the nutrients most difficult to get adequate amounts of if you consume a limited number of, or no animal products. Seaweed may be especially valuable for its B12 content, as very few non-animal foods have it. For more on important nutrients for vegetarians, click here.
- Those looking to support thyroid health. Iodine is essential for thyroid function. Without it, the thyroid gland can’t properly produce important hormones. Low iodine levels can also cause goiters to form.
- Those concerned about anemia. Even if they eat meat, some people are naturally disposed to low iron levels. Seaweed could be a good food for them to add to their diet. Want to know more about building healthy blood? Click here.
- Those looking to maintain a healthy weight. Because of its soluble fiber content, seaweed can help you feel full with relatively few calories. Feeling full helps ward off cravings and overeating, which can translate into keeping extra weight off.
- Beauty-lovers. You’ll find seaweed in a number of skincare products and cosmetics. Not only does it provide antioxidant nutrients for skin, but it also has emollient and emulsifying properties, making it a good natural alternative to various synthetic ingredients used to give products a smooth texture.
One last important note: While seaweed has a lot of good nutrients, it’s also high in sodium. It’s simply unavoidable with a plant that grows in saltwater. So if you have health conditions that have you watching your salt intake, go easy on the seaweed.
Know Your Type
As described earlier, seaweed is a broad term for quite a few different plants, all of which are not equally delicious, nutritious or available. Let’s go over some of the more common varieties that are good for eating.
- Nori. This is what you’ll find in sushi.
- Kombu. This variety has been used as a mineral-rich flavor enhancer in Japan for centuries.
- Wakame. Deep green and sold fresh or dehydrated, wakame has become popular for use in a variety of unique salads.
- Arame. Dark – almost black – and stringy, this strange-looking variety can be added to a number of cooked dishes.
- Dulse. A red seaweed, it can be purchased whole or as flakes to suit your particular needs.
- Kelp. Also known as brown seaweed, this is among the most well-known varieties. If you’ve been to the ocean, you may have seen its thick leaves washed up on the shore.
Take Your Seaweed
If you’re not too keen on the idea of eating seaweed, you can eliminate any ew-factor by taking a supplement. Below are a few of the options we sell at Natural Healthy Concepts to get a variety of seaweed health benefits.
And don’t forget about personal care and beauty! These natural products include seaweed for wonderful results. There’s olive oil soap, volumizing shampoo, an aromatic body scrub, mascara and much more on our website.
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