The Superfood of Superfoods!

Most of our products use seaweed as a key ingredient due to its nutritional and health benefits. We also like to use various forms of seaweed in many recipes (some of which we share here). While seaweed is shown to have health benefits, Many people aren’t too keen on eating it, mainly because it’s just not a food that we’re all used to seeing.

A Bowl of Wakame

However, dubbed “the most nutritious vegetable in the world” by British celebrity chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver, seaweed has quickly gained mainstream attention as the “health food” of the year, with its high nutritional value. It’s even said to be a major factor in the long-life expectancy of Japanese people. Seaweed is a truly renewable and sustainable source of nutrition. The television show, “60 Minutes” recently produced a segment on seaweed featuring just a few of its sustainable nutritional qualities.

Red Seaweed

First off, what is seaweed? You are probably most familiar with the green, black or brown plants that wash up on the beach. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, seaweed is the name given to the countless species of marine plants and algae that grow in the ocean and other water bodies. Seaweed varies in size from microscopic to large, underwater kelp forests. Seaweeds are classified according to their pigments, cell structure, and other traits. The groups of seaweed that are commonly consumed include:

  • Blue-green algae – spirulina and chlorella
  • Brown algae – kombu, arame, kelp, and wakame (the miso soup seaweed)
  • Green algae – sea lettuce or ulva, and sea grapes
  • Red algae – dulse, laver, and nori (the sushi seaweed)

According to the USDA, raw kelp is a good source of calcium (healthy bones), magnesium (important for overall bodily health) and sodium (helps muscles and nerves work properly). Raw kelp is also a good source of vitamin A, important for eyesight and overall eye health, and vitamin K. Vitamin K plays a key role in helping blood coagulation, which is especially important to control bleeding.

Below are some of the numerous health benefits you can get from eating seaweed.

Atlantic Dulce
  1. Seaweed is packed with nutrients – Seaweed is generally a good source of a variety of nutrients, but seaweeds are especially potent sources of vitamin B12, which is needed for healthy blood and nerve tissue.
  2. Seaweed is rich in iodine – Seaweeds like kombu are a valuable source of iodine, which is needed for regulating metabolism and ensuring normal thyroid function.
  3. Seaweed aids in weight loss – Seaweeds like sea kelp contain alginate, which can help suppress the digestion of fat in the gut. Research found that it is possible to prevent obesity through alginates that can block the fat digesting enzymes.
  4. Seaweed supports bone tissue – As a rule, darker green seaweeds contain the highest calcium content, with some types having more calcium than cheese. Equally important is seaweed’s high bone-boosting magnesium content, another mineral that supports bone health.
  5. Seaweed promotes heart health – Marine algae contain peptides that effectively lower blood pressure, which is a great way to combat heart disease. Marine algae are already being added to foods like bread and soup to lower heart disease rates in the US.
  6. Seaweed balances blood sugar – Adding seaweed to meals can reduce blood sugar spikes and help us feel fuller for longer.
  7. Detoxify with seaweed – Certain seaweeds like arame and hijiki have plenty of soluble fiber, which promotes detoxification. It cleanses our gut of toxins such as those found in pollutants like cigarette smoke.
  8. Seaweed improves skin condition – Red seaweed is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation. Just one sheet of nori contains more skin-boosting omega-oils than two whole avocados, but at a fraction of the calories. Red seaweed is also a strong source of omega 3s; high levels of which have been shown to reduce inflammatory compounds, which may reduce the risk of acne and other skin problems, as well as leading to smoother, younger-looking skin.
Seaweed Plantation. Zanzibar, Tanzania.

While Westerners have been much slower to adopt seaweed into their diet, that’s expected to change as consumers become more familiar with it and the news continues to expand around its potential nutritional, health and environmental benefits. We hope you try some of our products as a way to get a little bit of seaweed into your diet.

Sources:  Natural News/Healthista/Food Insight/Huff Post

For your reference, here’s a handy-dandy chart of the nutritional analysis of key sea vegetables from Maine (from VitaminSea Seaweed):