Depending upon how active you are in the nutrition space, seaweed may seem to have popped up out of nowhere for you. Or, you’ve seen different articles sharing the superfood values that seaweed brings to the table. But even with either of those levels of curiosity, how do you creatively work seaweed into your diet so you can eat seaweed everyday?
You may be familiar with the more popular species of seaweed that you see in Asian cuisine like miso soup and sushi with Nori and Wakame. But is that all there is to seaweed? Surely, with an estimated 35,000 species on the planet there has to be more than just a couple of ways to eat it? The great news is that there is.
What Foods Contain Seaweed?
You probably are eating seaweed every day, in one form or another. So, is that a good thing? Seaweed is making an appearance in all manner of foods, including:
- Ice Cream
- Beer (yes, there’s a Kelp Stout!)
- Confectionery and more
How the seaweed is making its way into the foods you are eating is typically more important that what type, and how much seaweed you are eating on a daily basis. There have been recent concerns with Carrageenan, which is extracted from specific seaweed species.
When we look at how you can eat seaweed everyday to improve your physical and mental health, yes, these are real benefits, we are not talking about processed seaweed extracts. We are talking about the wholefood, as fresh and unprocessed as you can possibly get it. Sun dried is as far as the processing should really go for it to still have true nutritional value.
As the global seaweed industry steps up its game there are a number of inconsistent projections as to the estimated value in the next 5 years. Suffice to say that more and more people are making seaweed a part of their diet each year.
The species of seaweed that are making to the table are more than just Nori, Kombu, and Wakame. Irish Sea Moss is becoming more of a part of the daily consumption as one example. Another seaweed that is being eaten daily for various health benefits is Bladderwrack. Seaweed is quickly moving away from simply being looked at as a delicacy and becoming a staple as it is increasingly referred to as the new Kale.
Interestingly, it’s not just Vegans who are embracing seaweed as a part of their daily intake. Cultures and countries aside, people around the world are finding out about the numerous health benefits that come from the minerals and vitamins wrapped up in this marine gift from nature.
Did you know that the global production of seaweed for use in food is more than lemons and limes?
More and more research is being done on the health benefits of eating seaweed everyday. In fact, the number of studies in the past ten years have outweighed the number of studies in any time preceding them. We are certainly beginning to see the value in the vegetable harvests we have access to through our oceans.
Is it Safe to Eat Seaweed Everyday?
Like anything in life, moderation is the key. If you eat or drink too much of anything, you’re going to find out the hard way that it’s not a good thing to do. Doctors have dealt with patients who have consumed far too much seaweed (including supplements) and suffered from excess iodine, or toxicity from heavy metals. This has been rare, and the volume of seaweed has been extreme. A little each day is enough.
Did you know that Coriander (Cilantro) helps with flushing heavy metals out of the body?
You may recall the old saying…
“An apple a day keeps the Doctor away”
Well, seaweed is a lot like that. If you ate a whole bushel of apples in the one sitting, you’ll feel pretty awful. So keep the consumption at a healthy level. The average Japanese person eats between 5 grams and 10 grams of seaweed each day. This might not seem like a lot, but it is enough to get what you typically need.
Before adding seaweed to you diet, speak with your Dietitian to find out if you can eat seaweed everyday.
I would have about the same amount on a daily basis, but I’m not eating Nori, Kombu or Wakame in that 5 to 10 grams. What I have each day is Irish Sea Moss. This was a staple for people during the Irish Potato famine of 1845 to 1852. I make a number of recipes with sea moss gel that help me to eat seaweed everyday. My favorite being a Red Velvet Cake that I add sea moss gel to.
Seaweeds are loaded with valuable minerals and vitamins, which, when in the right balance, provide for a much better quality of life through better health. Typically, seaweed is high in:
- Soluble fibre
- Insoluble fibre
- Vitamin B 12
- Vitamin K, and
- Vitamin C
When you start to get more specific with the different species of seaweed, the vitamins and minerals can differ a little. Some have more than others. What’s really amazing is that there is no terrestrial (land based) vegetables that we have which even come close to what seaweed can give us.
One such compound that is not found in terrestrial vegetables is fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide which has antiviral and anticoagulant properties. Fucoidan exists in the cell walls of specific seaweed species and has been suggested to potentially hold a solution to the cancer scourge.
I can’t help but wonder where any message that you should not eat seaweed everyday comes from, particularly with potential cures through research like that. Could that just be the cynical sarcastic side of me coming out because its unlikely that the message of a wholefood would be promoted by Big Pharma over a new wonder drug that costs cancer sufferers thousands of dollars?
Okay. Back to the point…
When you consider that in countries like Japan that there are generally lower rates of obesity, cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease that their diet is something that should be looked at. Being lower in meat than other parts of the world, and higher in fruits, vegetables, fish and seaweed, it echoes the words of Hypocrites…
“Let thy food be thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food”
Variations in Vitamin and Mineral Content
Seaweed comes in thousands of species, and is able to grow in almost every body of water on the plant. That makes for a multitude of variations in the possible nutritional content of one seaweed to the next. For that reason, making seaweed a supplementary part of your diet, and not necessarily a main part of your diet, is a good idea.
You can buy (or make your own) seaweed foods such as seaweed spaghetti. But replacing your normal pasta based spaghetti with a seaweed based spaghetti may mean that you are getting far too much iodine for a start.
Different Seaweeds to Eat Each Day
Some seaweeds, such as Arame (Eisenia Bicyclis) contain such high concentrations of iodine that within a few small grams you will have reached what is recognized at the tolerable upper limit for your day. This seaweed can be slightly sweet to the taste and goes well with Edamame or Shiitake.
What you eat your seaweed with is just as important as how much seaweed you eat. Earlier I shared with you that Coriander (Cilantro) helps to remove heavy metals from the body, well, if you look at the Japanese diet, where people eat seaweed everyday, they are also eating seaweed with other vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, mushrooms and soya. These naturally play a part in inhibiting the uptake of iodine into the body, particularly the thyroid gland.
Now that’s not to say you should avoid iodine. Not at all. In fact, you could find that you are lacking in iodine and have a deficiency. Part of that comes from the types of salt you are consuming. If you are using iodized salt (common table salt), you’re likely to not be getting the other minerals that are found in Celtic sea salt, Himalayan salt, or other forms of mineral salts.
Dulse (Palmaria Palmata) is a slightly transparent seaweed which has a reddish-purple color to it. When lightly pan fried it can have a bacon like flavor to it, which may be why it has earned the nickname ‘the bacon of the sea’. As a dried seaweed it is often used as flakes to top soups and occasionally salads.
When looking for Dulse, much like when looking or sea moss, choose a brand that has done as little as possible to get it in the packet and off to the store. Dried is good, baked is not.
Wakame (Undaria Pinnatifida) is still widely used in Japan to this day. With a history dating back to the Nara period of 710 to 794 AD, Wakame is often served in soups and salads. With a distinct and pleasant flavor, Wakame can expand as much as three times from its dried size when soaked in water.
Kombu (Saccharina Japonica or possibly one of a dozen other botanical names) is the natural source of umami. Umami is described as being one of the five fundamental flavors, along with sour, sweet, salty, and bitter. If you are looking for a natural way to avoid using products such as MSG, you’ve found it. Add Kombu to your condiment list and your Dashi will be perfect.
Cooking black rice in Dashi allows for a unique spin on you meal. It is due to the position that Kombu holds with its being the source of umami, and being packed with vitamins and minerals, that it has earned the name in Japanese culture as the ‘King of Seaweeds’
Nori (Pyropia Yezoensis or Pyropia Tenera) is the yummy seaweed that you’ll find wrapped around sushi, typically known by many as a California Roll. Nori is processed into the thin dried sheets that are used for this purpose. It is shredded and then spread out to dry, a lot like paper is. The first year of harvesting Nori is where the highest grade Nori is obtained.
Nori can also be eaten as a substitute for potato crisps (chips), but, keep in mind that there are still high concentrations of minerals and vitamins in Nori. Unlike a bag of potato chips, eating a whole bag of Nori could leave you with an overload on your system that is less than pleasant.
Irish Sea Moss
Irish Sea Moss (Chondrus Crispus) is my personal favorite. This is the top of my list, and if you want to eat seaweed everyday, this is such an easy one to make a part of many meals. After washing and soaking the sea moss in filtered water I am able to blend it into a paste or a gel that I then add to smoothies, raw cakes, salad dressings, or simply use topically.
Sea moss is reported to contain a staggering 92 of the 102 minerals required for our bodies to stay healthy. As an addition to any diet, in moderation, this is sure to be a good thing. Sea moss has been attributed to a range of health benefits over the years, and consumed almost religiously in Jamaica.
There seems to be an element of confusion in the market about which species is truly Irish Sea Moss. The species that is represented online and in the stores does not resemble dried or fresh Chondrus Crispus, but actually looks more like Eucheuma Cottonii. The species that I have used in the past has been sold in this way, but it is not Chondrus Crispus. You’ll be able to see the difference between the two in the images below.
That being said, there are constant recategorizations of species from one to the next within the seaweed world, and the situation is better explained on our Sea Moss page.
The last suggestion on the list of seaweeds you can try is Hijiki (Sargassum fusiforme) which possesses a very absorbent characteristic when it comes to the minerals and heavy metals around it. There have been warnings made by health officials about eating Hijiki due to the dangerous levels of arsenic. But, this is indicative of where the seaweed has been cultivated or harvested from.
Before you consume any seaweed I would suggest that you find out about a chemical analysis of the species you intend to consume from the supplier. That, and any other information that can be provided to give you confidence that it is cultivated using responsible and sustainable techniques which don’t present a threat to people, or the environment.
The best way to eat seaweed everyday is to add small amounts to the foods you are already having. Don’t go overboard with it, and if you feel like something isn’t right, then stop and speak to your Dietitian.
Get Full Access to Detox & Cure
Sign up for alerts from Detox & Cure to be notified about upcoming deals, product launches, and full access to all of our articles. As a special Thank You, we would like to send you a copy of Detox For Wellness.