Eating seaweed could do everything from aiding weight loss to promoting heart health and even making skin glow.
Expected to be ‘the health food’ of 2018, the sea vegetable’s global worth is estimated to reach a staggering $17.59 million by 2021.
Back in 2015, Jamie Oliver credited seaweed for his two-stone weight loss, saying: ‘I thought seaweed was hippy, globetrotting stuff but our ancestors ate seaweed. It’s the most nutritious vegetable in the world.’
Michelin star chef Heston Blumenthal, who invented bacon and egg ice cream, suggested back in 2011 that seaweed should be added to hospital meals instead of salt to make them more palatable.
Since then, munching on sea vegetables has steadily risen in popularity, with Instagrammers regularly posting images of their ‘seaweed spaghetti’ and some even using it to flavour ice cream.
As well as adding a unique taste to food, seaweed has also been credited for being behind Japanese people having one of the longest life expectancies in the world.
A piece for Healthista discusses the eight benefits of eating seaweed and how to incorporate the sea vegetable into your diet.
Back in 2015, Jamie Oliver credited seaweed for his two-stone weight loss, saying: ‘I thought seaweed was hippy, globetrotting stuff [but] it’s the most nutritious vegetable in the world’
Michelin star chef Heston Blumenthal suggested back in 2011 that seaweed should be added to hospital meals instead of salt to make them more palatable
EIGHT WAYS TO ADD SEAWEED INTO YOUR DIET
Add seaweed into your diet by:
- Swapping coffee for miso soup, which often contains small pieces of seaweed
- Sprinkling dried or fresh pieces into salads or soups
- Swapping potato crisps for seaweed versions
- Making sushi by rolling vegetables and rice in dried nori sheets
- Creating broths by boiling nori in water
- Adding seaweed when cooking beans to make them more digestible
- Including shredded seaweed strips in stir-fries
- Using seaweeds flakes instead of salt to flavour food
High in protein and other nutrients
Containing 10 to 20 times the nutrients of most land vegetables, seaweed is bursting with vitamins, minerals and all the essential amino acids our bodies need to stay healthy.
Seaweed is also one of the few non-animal sources of vitamin B12, which is needed for healthy blood and nerve tissue.
Rich in iodine
A pack of seaweed ‘crisps’ contains around 65 per cent of the recommended daily iodine intake.
Research by the British Thyroid Association, found that 70 per cent of young women in the UK are iodine deficient, which can cause thyroid dysfunction, leading to weight gain, dry skin, hair loss, tiredness and depression, as well as an intolerance to cold temperatures.
Due to the rise of veganism and the growth of sales of soya, almond and other milk substitutes, experts warn iodine levels could fall further, particularly after a study in October last year found that the majority of milk alternatives do not contain adequate iodine, with concentrations being around two per cent of those found in cow’s milk (although some brands are fortified).
Experts also warn deficiency can affect fertility, pregnancy, and mental and physical development in young children. Nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed said: ‘Iodine is important in the diet as it contributes to normal thyroid function, normal brain function and also normal growth in children.’
Aids weight loss
In 2014, research from Newcastle University suggested that seaweed could be a key factor in weight loss due to a compound that stops the body from absorbing fat.
The study found that alginate, which is found in sea kelp, helps to suppress the digestion of fat in the gut. The researchers claim that if alginates can block a fat digesting enzyme, the body will absorb less and stop people from becoming obese.
Kombu also contains a pigment known as fucoxanthin, which is a carotenoid that may boost production of a protein involved in fat metabolism, aiding weight loss.
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.
Seaweed could do everything from aiding weight loss to promoting heart health
Promotes heart health
Marine algae contains peptides that lower blood pressure to such an extent they are already being added to foods like bread and soup to lower heart disease rates in the US.
A high seaweed intake may explain why one of the longest-living inhabitants on earth, the Okinawans, who live between the islands of Kyushu and Taiwan, have low cholesterol and homocysteine (a heart-damaging chemical) levels.
A 25-year study showed sea vegetables largely make up the seven to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables they eat every day.
Balances blood sugar
Adding seaweed to meals can reduce blood sugar spikes and help people feel fuller for longer.
Scientists at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne researched alginate in brown seaweed (arame) and found it strengthens gut mucus, which protects the gut wall, while also slowing the digestion of carbohydrates.
Different researchers found adding extracts from brown seaweed to a meal may reduce blood sugar spikes and offer potential benefits to people at risk of type-2 diabetes.
A Sheffield University study found alginate can reduce cholesterol and glucose uptake in obese patients to the levels of healthy people.
Seaweed purifies and balances the ocean, and, according to certain health experts, it can do the same for people.
Certain seaweeds, such as arame and hijiki contain lots of soluble fiber, which promotes detoxification by mopping up heavy metal toxins, such as those found in cigarette smoke and exhaust fumes.
Makes skin glow
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.
Winter is a good time for people to up their omega-3 levels to counter the dehydrating effects of central heating.
In 2013, Scottish researchers found algae can also help fight acne.
This article was originally published by Healthista and reproduced with their permission.