Are you a sushi fan? Well, good news, the seaweed in your favorite California roll offers significant health-boosting benefits. However, for those of you scared away by the thought of slimy seaweed, before dismissing ever consuming the healthy sea vegetable, consider these five reasons showing seaweed to be a valuable source of nutrients.
So What are Sea Vegetables?
In about only 30 calories per cup, seaweed, also known as wakame, offers calcium, iodine, magnesium, iron, folate, and B vitamins. Seaweed is a rich source of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid, along with thiamine and niacin. Thanks to the nutritional value, wakame has been used throughout Asian history for intestinal strength, blood and lymph purification, skin and hair restoration, reproductive organs, and menstrual regularity.
Benefits Digestive Health
Japanese women have high numbers of healthy bacteria in their guts. Why? Because they consume lots of seaweed! Alginate, a thick substance found in the cells of brown seaweed, thickens gut mucus, which better protects the lining of the digestive tract. This in turn helps to slow down digestion – leading to slower and better absorption of the energy from food, which in turn leads to feeling fuller for longer.
Seaweed has been used for centuries for its medicinal, detoxifying properties. Apart from seaweed baths and body wraps, eating seaweed detoxifies the body as well. Consuming seaweed helps to remove toxins and heavy metals, like cadmium, strontium, and lead, from within. In small quantities, many heavy metals are necessary to sustain life. In high amounts, however, these metals can have serious adverse effects on the body’s health.
Heart Benefits of Seaweed
Some of the world’s longest living individuals live in Okinawa, Japan – a region where eating seaweed is commonplace. People from Okinawa have unclogged arteries, low cholesterol, and minimal heart disease rates. Interestingly enough, these same people eat multiple portions of sea vegetables, including seaweed, on a daily basis. Why might this be? The fibers in seaweed may help lower blood pressure and reduce chances of stroke and heart attack.
Foods High in Iodine
Western culture could certainly learn a thing or two from the Japanese diet where the intake of iodine from seaweed is among the highest in the world. Iodine is critical for proper thyroid function. Without it, the thyroid increases in size, creating a goiter, in search of any possible iodine in the body. Low thyroid function is also characterized by fatigue, cold hands and feet, weight gain, brittle hair and nails, and dry skin. In addition to the thyroid, iodine deficiency is associated with mental retardation, as sufficient amounts of iodine are necessary for suitable brain growth and development.
Seaweed offers some of the highest levels of iodine naturally available. Natural sources of iodine are preferred because the body can better process and absorb iodine when consumed in a natural form. Supplements of iodine also run the risk of consuming too much iodine, which can be dangerous to health.
For a nutrient-dense, flavor-packed meal, use seaweed in soups, salads, side dishes, and sushi. The nutritional value of this treasure of the sea offers one of the greatest ranges of minerals found in all foods!