Cutting to the chase: The benefits of eating seaweed everyday include improving your ability to access important minerals and an array of nutrients which required maintain a healthy body through things like:
- Iodine for
- Healthy thyroid function
- Stable metabolism
- Improved immune system
- Functioning central nervous system
- Improved heart health
- Collagen for
- Omega 3 fatty acids for
But there is so much more packed in to the gift that we have in seaweed as a measured food source. Sea moss is reported to contain 92 of the 102 minerals that are found in the human body, yet many of us know so little about it.
When it comes to eating seaweed most of us have become familiar with Miso soup and sushi. But the benefits go way beyond the delicious flavors we know in dishes like these. Stick with me and I’ll take you on a journey where we will explore the health benefits of eating seaweed everyday.
We’ve been cooking with seaweed for a while now. Over time we have learned that there are different kinds of seaweed, which makes for interesting new recipes.
Seaweed is something that some people may be a bit skittish about. Sushi has become the most commonly consumed form of seaweed in the Western World today. It’s been made more readily available as an option in the takeaway and fast food section at the food courts.
There are various types of seaweed like Kelp, Bladderwrack, Wakami, and Dolce. And there are various types of seagrasses, which are algae too. All of these sea vegetables are packed with an array of minerals, trace elements. Most notably for me, the stand out is Iodine with the benefits it brings.
Why would you eat seaweed?
It’s such an odd thing to eat. I mean, if you look at plant foods, such as fruits and vegetables, these don’t strike us as odd to eat. But seaweed and algae? Really?
Seaweed and algae are just sea vegetables that are mainly harvested from the ocean, but they can also grow in fresh waters. As an addition to your diet, they are incredibly healthy thing to eat.
In fact, ancient cultures have used seaweed as part of a healthy diet for centuries. Many of them regard seaweed as an important part of their lives because it has many uses. Some of these even include being used as medicines.
Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
So, how much seaweed is too much seaweed? Surely there is such a thing as too much of a good thing? Yes, there is. The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended daily intake (RDI) is 150mcg or Iodine for an adult, and for pregnant women approximately 250mcg.
The maximum amount of Iodine recommended is 1000mcg. Any more than this and you could cause your body some very serious health problems over time. Levels of Iodine vary considerably between species of seaweed. For example, there can be between 1,800mcg and 2,500mcg of Iodine in 1g of raw Kelp, verses 72mcg of Iodine in 1g of raw Dulse.
Some countries treat certain seaweeds as hazardous, particularly if they contain more than 1,000mg of Iodine per dried kilogram of seaweed. It is for this reason that we have our products tested to ensure that they are in a safe range for human consumption. All of the data is on the packaging, and we upload the results of the tests to our website.
Now, You may be thinking, you’ve just told me that I should be eating seaweed everyday, but Kelp far exceeds the recommended daily intake (RDI) for Iodine. Yes, that’s true. So I obviously wouldn’t encourage you to eat Kelp straight from the ocean or out of the packaging. There is some processing you will need to follow to make the product palatable.
Many seaweeds will require you to soak them before you can consume them. Some even need to be cooked first. You can reduce the Iodine content in Kelp by up to 99% by boiling it for 10 to 15 minutes. This is why most recipes that contain Kelp require cooking. But this is not required for all species of seaweed.
Remember, the more variety of seaweed that you eat, the more variety of nutrients you will receive. Personally, I eat Dulse, Wakame, Kombu, Irish Sea Moss, Kelp, Nori, Spirulina, and Chlorella on a regular basis. You don’t need to eat the same type of seaweed everyday. Change it up a bit, keep it interesting. Remember that good old saying; variety is the spice of life!
What Are The Different Varieties of Seaweed?
As mentioned above, there are quite a few different species of edible seaweed. Would you believe that there are over 356,000 species of seaweed? Scientists have painstakingly grouped seaweed by their color pigments, and cell structures. Some of the more common types of seaweed include:
Asian cultures, some parts of the Caribbean, and Ireland have been eating seaweed everyday for thousands of years. It’s not surprising that they have the most abundant variety of recipes that include this amazing food. You may have noticed that Asian cultures tend to use the most variety of seaweeds in their cooking than any others.
You will easily find many of these different types of seaweed at the Asian markets in town or online. Different seaweeds have different flavors and textures. Some are fishy or salty, and some are sweet, and then there are some that have virtually no flavor at all.
There are many ways to prepare and eat seaweed. Most seaweeds need to be soaked before using. With the tougher varieties, it’s best to cut them into thin slices. This can be one of the best ways to consume what is a very versatile sea vegetable.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed?
In the opening we touched on some of the various health benefits of eating seaweed. Being a great source of Iodine, there are some health problems that occur if you have a deficiency of Iodine. If you have already identified that you have an Iodine deficiency, it is advisable to speak with your dietitian who may well tell you that you would benefit from eating seaweed everyday.
There is evidence to show that there are lots of benefits of eating seaweed everyday. If you look at communities that eat seaweed or seagrasses regularly, you will no doubt see that they have much better nutrition and general health compared to communities that don’t.
Unfortunately, there are almost no benefits to much of the food industry to encourage people to eat a healthier diet. Especially the manufacturers of junk food products and snacks that are loaded with preservatives and chemicals.
This is why we believe that you should be focused on looking at what you eat. Your food directly impacts your health. And as much as we might love the idea of them incorporating seaweed into our meals, no one else is going to do it for us.
In saying this, there are some pre-made foods that do contain seaweed. But the question is, are they healthy? You be the judge. Did you know that seaweed is used in the following products in one form or another?
- Processed foods
- Cream cheese
- Ice cream, and
Essentially, it’s up to you, the consumer, to find out how to make seaweed a common household ingredient and part of your lifestyle. You might like to try some of the following ideas:
- Nori Salad
- Carrots with Arame
- White Bean and Asparagus Stew with Wakame
- Soba Soup, and a personal favorite of mine
- Miso Soup With Spinach & Mushrooms
Research from the University of Southern Denmark
When we look at medical research from the University of Southern Denmark there is some interesting light on the topic of cardiovascular health. Ole G. Mouritsen, co-authored an article which was published in Phycologia, that considered 35 different species of seaweed and their effects on cardiovascular health. It was identified that certain substances, like Iodine, found in seaweed is very important for a healthy heart.
In this article, Mouritsen takes the fight to the big end of town and calls out food manufacturers and Governments on their current practices and short comings. He suggests that adding a little seaweed to foods that are manufactured on large scales and widely consumed would do a lot of good in addressing critical health issues.
There has also been other independent research done that shows that seaweed is beneficial during pregnancy. It helps with brain and, mental development. As mentioned, like with all things, there is such a things as too much of a good thing. And if you are an expecting mother it is strongly advised to seek specialist advice before making any kind of diet changes during your pregnancy.
There have also been other studies completed that show that the consumption of seaweed has helped with improved cognitive development later in life. The studies showed that the healthy intake of seaweed, also referred to as macroalgae, helped with the prevention of:
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Bipolar disorder
- Dementia, and
- Other progressive neurodegenerational conditions
As touched upon earlier, one of the most popular benefits of eating seaweed is to promote good thyroid health. It is through having an effective amount of Iodine in your diet that this benefit arises. Brown seaweeds, like Kelp, have a lot of Iodine content as well as other nutrients. If you are deficient in Iodine, typically, you will find that your thyroid glands don’s work that well.
Some people may have an under-active thyroid (Hypothyroid) or an overactive thyroid (Hyperthyroid). It’s best to check with your health care professional or dietitian before taking steps towards addressing a situation like this. In fact, self diagnosis of thyroid problems is not something we advocate. It can be very difficult to identify how much seaweed someone should consume to get the right amount of Iodine to address this.
Are Seaweed Snacks Really Healthy?
I find it incredibly frustrating to learn that foods that I think are healthy based on how they are marketed, on closer investigation, actually are not. For example, I love my Cafe Lattes, but the dairy is not good for me, so I had to swap it out. And here I thought I was doing so well by drinking more milk. Sadly no!
For many people, this type of misinformation happens all too frequently. They choose what they think is a healthy snack, only to find out that it’s not the healthy snack they thought it was.
Seaweed crisps (or chips) are becoming more and more popular. You may have seen them being sold at big name stores like Woolworths, Costco, and even in your local supermarket. They are sheets of dried, seasoned and roasted seaweed. It’s the same type of thing that they use to wrap around the outside of your sushi.
These have been promoted as a healthy alternative to potato crisps (chips) which have been deep-fried or baked. But stop to take a look at the Nutritional Information Panel on the back of these. Ask yourself ‘Is this what I really want to put in my body?’ before you take the plunge into making these a regular part of your diet. As much as I am promoting the health benefits of eating seaweed everyday, there are some types that need to be given more careful consideration.
When choosing your seaweed snacks, be sure to check the labels. You want to make sure that you’re not consuming any unnecessary ingredients like added sugar and artificial additives. I have found that some brands are oilier than others which I personally don’t like. They tend to leave an aftertaste which reminds me of burping up omega-3 fish oil capsules.
These highly processed forms of snacks can be quite addictive. Largely based on the preservatives and flavoring that they are made with. Be careful with these. The best form of seaweed to make a regular part of your day are the ones that have not been highly processed. Simply dried and presented for sale tends to be the best option.
Collagen For Vegans
In the opening I mentioned that there are benefits related to the collagen found in seaweed for a number of bodily functions. Well, here’s something that has been often overlooked. Vegans rejoice! There were no sea animals harmed in the making of these foods.
Best of all, some species of seaweed have also been identified as a suitable source of collagen for vegans. Making this an easy option for health-conscious people, or not. Regardless of your values systems, the abundant source of collagen offered through seaweed is readily accessible. You can make a gel from sea moss and apply it to your face for instant nourishment. Much more appealing than dabbing yourself down with bone broth. Winning!
Weight Loss Remedy
But wait, there’s more! Seaweed has also been consumed by many as a weight loss remedy. There are two main reasons why researchers say it works.
The thyroid gland controls the bodies metabolism
So, in other words, the rate at which the body burns fat for energy. When people have a thyroid deficiency, they tend to pick up weight easier. So apart from having a healthy diet, one way to address that is to have seaweed regularly to restore the balance.
Seaweeds contain fucoxanthin
There is another ingredient in seaweed, particularly Kelp or brown seaweeds, called fucoxanthin. This is found in seaweeds like hijiki (Hijikia fusiformis) and wakame (Undaria pinnatifida), which can assist with weight loss. It’s very popular, especially when people are wanting to shed their winter coat and lose a few pounds for the summer months.
Seaweed is also good for cellulite
The trace elements and minerals in seaweed are really good for blood circulation. As we know, where there is cellulite, there is poor circulation to those areas that the cellulite plants itself. So seaweed is the thing to eat more of. You could also do a seaweed wrap, which is when you apply seaweed onto the skin.
What many people don’t know is that Toothpaste contains elements of seaweed. It is used as a thickening agent. But you need to also consider what else is in your toothpaste. Don’t start sucking it down just because of the seaweed content.
Seaweed is the Superfood of all Superfoods
You might recall that I mentioned earlier that some species of seaweed contain up to 92 minerals found in the human body. This means that there are various nutritional benefits to be found in seaweed, depending on the species. Here are just a few of the minerals you will consume by eating seaweed everyday:
- Sodium, and
As you no doubt have been able to see, seaweed is great for strengthening and boosting the immune system. It helps to increases energy levels. Seaweed is also good for brain function. And, we’ve covered the ability for seaweed to help with weight loss.
The pros definitely outweigh any cons in my opinion. Suffice to say, I’m a big fan!
I think it’s fair to say that many cultures don’t eat enough seaweed as part of their diet. Many researchers have been studying the benefits of eating seaweed everyday, and judging by the prolific publication of resources in medical journals, they are clearly advocates. Many people will also testify (anecdotally) that since adding seaweed to their diets, they have noticed weight reduction and enhanced vitality.