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The Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed: Are Marine Munchies The Next Big Thing?
Think: seaweed butter, kelp jerkies, wakame flakes and nori popcorn.
Okay, so seaweed may not seem like the sexiest food. After all, it’s slimy, sludgy-green and pretty fishy in its natural state. But, this uber-nutritious underwater plant has been frequently touted as a food of the future and 2019 could be the year we see it step into the spotlight!
According to the US-based retail giant, Wholefoods, marine munchies are set to explode in popularity next year. But sushi isn’t the only way to get your daily dose of this health-boosting plant.
Retail experts are forecasting new depths of ocean flavours with snacks like seaweed butter, kelp puree, puffed water lily seeds, kelp jerkies and even algae-based, vegan tuna alternatives. Woaah!
Most people are aware of the common sea vegetables served in Western-style restaurants, like nori and wakame. But there are actually over 30 different types of edible seaweed varieties—from arame to dulse, hijiki, kombu, spirulina and more! The ocean is a treasure-trove of affordable, nutrient-rich vegetation that can be enjoyed wild, fresh, dried or even noodled.
As dark, leafy veggies go, seaweed is about as nutrient-dense as it gets. It’s loaded with naturally occurring minerals, fibre, calcium, and iron. In fact, some varieties of seaweed contain more vitamin A per serving than carrots, 4 times more iron than spinach and 7 times more calcium than broccoli!
Vegans can rejoice because it's one of the only natural, non-animal sources of vitamin B-12, which is essential for many cognitive and bodily functions. Seaweed is also one of the most iodine-rich vegetables in the world, with some varieties containing nearly 2,000% of the daily recommended intake in one gram!
Some of the other major health benefits of eating seaweed include:
- Provides heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
- Lowers PMS symptoms (praise the sea gods!).
- Anti-inflammatory properties for fighting arthritis and joint pain.
- Lowers blood pressure and unhealthy levels of cholesterol.
- Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by free radicals and - environmental stress.
- Assists with detoxification.
Did you know?
One sheet of nori seaweed contains the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as two avocados.
(The Dr Oz Show)
Study shows seaweed absorbs fat
According to a 2010 study conducted by Newcastle University, seaweed can also reduce your rate of fat absorption by up to 75%. The research team found that Alginate—a natural fibre found in sea kelp—prevents the body from absorbing up to three-quarters of the fat in your meals.
Dr Iain Brownlee, one of the lead scientists of the study, says the next step is to try adding Alginate to everyday foods, such as bread, biscuits and yoghurt.
“If we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily, up to three-quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body. These initial findings suggest alginates could offer a very real solution in the battle against obesity," Dr Brownlee explains.
A sustainable superfood of the future?
It's not just individual health benefits that make seaweed such a popular choice, though—it also has amazing benefits for the planet.
Seaweed requires no fresh water, land or fertiliser. Cultivated or wild, it can be harvested all year round and, when farmed ethically, you can effectively have a crop for as long as you're willing to harvest it because it’s naturally regenerating. Pretty cool, right?
Did you know?
Most of the world's oxygen (about 70%) comes from seaweeds and other microscopic algae.
3 delicious seaweed snacks to try today!
1. Nori rolls
You might recognise these tasty seasweed snacks from your favourite sushi restaurant. Nori rolls are the paper-like, dark green wrapping that keeps your sushi neatly - and deliciously! - contained. But did you know you can also use nori over omelettes, baked fish, salads, steamed vegetables and even pizza? Yep, you betcha! You can even buy it pre-cut to save preparation time.
2. Wakame flakes
Thesewakame flakes from Power Super Foods are delicious sprinkled on top of rice dishes, soups, stir-frys, omelettes and salads. The flavour isn’t too strong and they’re super easy to use—no preparation, dicing, cutting or drying required! Spice up your Japanese inspired recipes and create something fancy in the kitchen for guests with this one simple ingredient.
3. Teriyaki roasted seaweed
Like the Doritos of the seaweed world, these teriyaki roasted seaweed snacks from Gimme Organic are the ultimate family favourite. They’re organic, gluten-free and contain no GMOs. Perfect for those on a keto diet or anyone who just likes melt-in-your-mouth, sweet but savoury snacks. But be careful as they can be quite addictive!