Seaweed is the ocean's mineral and vitamin bank surpassing any and every food on the planet in regards to diversity of nutrients. So guess what? That thin dark crunchy sheet that holds your sushi roll together, has more nutrients than any item inside the roll. If you eat sushi then you are consuming some seaweed, but what if seaweed was as much a staple in your diet as a salad? (I am assuming of course that salad is a staple in EVERYONE'S diet!) In Japan seaweed is consumed quite frequently and there is research that suggests that the inclusion of seaweed in Japanese diet is linked to an overall lower occurrence of cancer and other illnesses.
What are the benefits of seaweed?
- Seaweed is a great natural detoxifier. It contains aljinic acid, which binds out toxins in our body and allows for their natural elimination. We are regularly exposed to so many toxins both environmental and biological, that it is becoming more and more important to increase the bodies natural ability to detoxify. Seaweed is a fantastic tool for detoxification.
- Seaweed can help to counteract “hot” conditions in the body such as hot flashes. In Japan there is actually no word for “hot flashes.” Only 7% of menopausal women in Japan suffer from hot flashes compared to 55% of menopausal women in America. This is thought to be related to the japanese diet that includes soy and seaweed.
- Eating the SAD or Standard American Diet creates overly acidic blood, most diseases thrive in over-acid blood, so it's important to balance that condition out with alkalizing foods, seaweed is highly alkalizing. One study at the University of California revealed that Kelp, a specific type of seaweed, may be the most important cancer fighting component in the Asian diet. The research suggested that this is because of seaweed's alkalinity.
- Both Kelp and Wakame seaweed contain an essential sugar called fucose. Fucose is known to influence brain development and has been shown to improve the brains ability to create long-term memories. Fucose is also a strong anit-inflammatory and immunity booster, having the ability to kill bacteria and fortify immunity against infection.
Seaweed can be easier to add to your diet than you think. There are 2 companies that I really love; Maine Coast Sea Vegetables and SeaSnax. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables has a fantastic product called sea seasoning. Sea seasonings is kelp granules either plain or mixed with cayenne, or ginger. This is the easiest way to begin to introduce seaweed into your life. Sprinkle a little bit on your salads, your grains, your protein, whatever you like.
SeaSnax product line is full of tasty grab and go seaweed snacks. Crunchy nori sheets, and even seaweed and seed bars.
If you are ready to give a seaweed recipe a whirl, try my sweet and salty seaweed snacks! They are addictively delicious. Just ask Penelope 😉
A note on thyroid health and seaweed
It was previously believed that individuals with hypothyroidism and/or Hashimoto's thyroiditis would benefit from consuming iodine or seaweed. Iodine is a necessary nutrient for the thyroid to function, the previous belief was that an under functioning thyroid needed more iodine. Recent research has shown this not to be true in fact, the opposite may be the case. Excessive iodine consumption both in the form of dietary ingestion (too much seaweed) or supplemental has been linked to increased incidence of autoimmune thyroid conditions. At this time it is recommended that consumption of seaweed be kept to a minimum (100mcg/day of iodine) if there is suspicion or knowledge of thyroid disorder. I included reference links below if you'd like to read more studies on this topic.
Thyroid, 2006 Dec;16(12):1265-71
Zonghua Yu Fang Xue Za Zhi. 2006 Jan;40(1):18-20
J Endocrinol Invest. 2005 Nov;38(10):876-81
Clinical Immunology (2013) 149, 411–420
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