Kale, once the king of for all things healthy may be usurped by a weed of the sea? Doesn’t sound appetising but seaweed is no upstart and certainly has the pedigree to claim the crown.
Seaweed has been a staple in Asia for over 2,000 years, it has even been reported that 6 different types of seaweed were used in Japanese cooking dating back as far as 800 AD. In the West, we are only just discovering the benefits of including this algae in our diets and they are not limited to being the just outer wrap of our Sushi roll!
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Seaweed (or Kelp) is packed with Iodine which is essential for the functioning of the thyroid gland and healthy metabolism. This is particularly important for pregnant and breast feeding mothers. Just one gram of seaweed has approx. 50 times the recommend daily intake of iodine.
2. Nature’s multi vitamin
Seaweed is grown in nutrient rich waters and as a result is a natural source of vitamins C, D, E, A, B1 and B2 as well as iron, potassium , Vitamin K (essential for blood and cardiovascular health), magnesium, zinc, folic acid and calcium (10 times higher than milk!). Seaweed is a fab tonic for the nervous system, our bones, nails, hair and skin.
Seaweed is high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties which help in the fight against free radical damage and strengthen immunity. Research has even been suggesting that high seaweed consumption has been linked to longevity and the low incidents of hormone base cancers (ovarian and breast) in Japan.
4. Weight management
Seaweed is known to help with weight management because of the effect of iodine on metabolism. Additionally, a 2010 UK study on found that a natural fibre in seaweed (alginate) may help in reducing fat absorption by as much as 75%.
5. Plant source of protein
Vegetarians rejoice! If you want a change from tofu try seaweed! Seaweed is a good source of protein, essential for muscle development and cellular repair. Seaweed has between 2 and 9g of protein per cup.
Seaweed is known by many names but typically comes in three varieties, red, brown and green. Common names are kelp, wakame, dulse flakes, nori and spirulina to name but a few.
Seaweed can be purchased from health food stores, supermarkets and asian grocers and can easily be added into the diet for a nutrient and mineral boost. Try using nori sheets instead of wraps to make your own sushi rolls or add chopped nori piece to miso soup. Dulse flakes can be added to soups and stews to add a savoury, salty flavour or simply mix through natural sea salt and use as seasoning. Spirulina can be added to morning smoothies and raw food treats such as bliss balls to give a superfood green boost. With so many diverse options available it looks like kale has been preceded once and for all by a humble weed of the sea.