9 Health Benefits of Nutrient-Dense Seaweed
When we think of greens and vegetables that we should be eating for good health, the foods that come into mind are broccoli, spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbage, asparagus, and many more. These foods are popular in western culture but in eastern culture, seaweed is a superfood part of many people’s diets.
It is quite likely that you have eaten seaweed as a wrap on a sushi roll, however few of us would not think of buying a bag of seaweed at the grocery. Perhaps it is time to reconsider that mind-set. Seaweed is quite a superfood, as it is loaded with antioxidants, calcium, as well as a comprehensive spectrum of vitamins, but that does not even start to tell what this fascinating superfood is all about.
There are in excess of 100 various species of eatable seaweed, and approximately 10,000 types of macro-algae. Seaweed is available in three color variants which are brown, red and green. The brown variant of seaweed are the most prevalently consumed, which include kelp and wakame. These are also the variants that are the most studied. The second most common is the red seaweed variety, like nori, which is what you would encounter if you eat sushi.
Known to many, the most typical seaweed-based diets are found in Japan, which is where sushi comes from, and Japanese diets are reputed in the world to be among the healthiest.
9 Health Benefits of Seaweed
1. Seaweed is a potent source of vitamins and minerals.
Seaweed is generally reputed as an excellent source of iodine, a nutrient absent from just about most food. While there are some issues when eating too much iodine, sustaining healthy levels of it in one’s diet is rather essential for maintaining a healthy thyroid.
When the thyroid, a gland situated in the neck that helps create and control hormones, is not healthy because of an iodine deficiency, one can experience weakness and elevated cholesterol levels in addition to fatigue. If this condition is prolonged, an underactive thyroid due to iodine deficiency can result in health issues and serious medical problems, including obesity, heart palpitations, depression, goiters, and memory lapses.
Seaweed is also a great way to get vanadium, magnesium, calcium, protein, in addition to vitamins A, C and K. (1) Vanadium is a vital mineral that is seldom present in food. It is needed, however, in scant amounts to aid in the processing of carbohydrates.
A single cup of nori seaweed gives us 83% of our daily requirement of vitamin A, as well as 52% of our daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamins A and C are both crucial in preserving an effective immune system, and vitamin A is vital for healthy eyesight. Vitamin C is also helpful for healthy joint maintenance and it aids the body at absorbing iron from plant-based sources.
2. Seaweed is packed with skin-friendly minerals.
Throughout the day, our skin is exposed to dirt, harmful UV rays, pollution, bacteria, and oils on our fingertips and hands. All these impurities can clog pores and cause problems such as acne, black/white heads, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and much more. Skin care products are essentials for many people but the chemicals in the ingredients can actually worsen skin conditions. Fortunately, there’s a natural alternative.
Seaweed has in excess of 50 potent minerals and as a result, individuals have enjoyed prolonged immersions in seaweed baths for hundreds of years. The intense detoxification characteristics in mineral-rich seaweed nurture and revitalize the skin, combat cellulite and lessen the appearance of wrinkles. In addition to mitigating signs of aging, seaweed extracts are capable of diminishing blotchiness and pigmentation in the skin, particularly among fairer skinned people. (2)
Brown algae compounds are utilized in eye creams, facial serums and moisturizers due to potent concentrations of antioxidants, which combat signs of aging in the skin. It protects the membranes of skin cells and averts harm to the skin’s natural amino acids. By reinforcing cell membranes, environmental factors that hasten skin aging are decelerated.
3. Seaweed may help control estrogen and estradiol levels.
This pair of hormones is needed for the precise growth and performance of the sexual organs. Studies observed that consuming seaweed may aid at regulating estrogen and estradiol amounts, possibly lowering the odds of breast cancer, enhancing female fertility, and even mitigating PMS symptoms. (3) Based on new research, the absorption outcome of dietary fibers on extrinsic estrogen derived from seaweed is more effective from brown seaweeds, when compared to red seaweeds.
4. Seaweed is a great detoxifying agent.
Keeping good health means putting your body through detoxes from time to time. Activities such as drinking and smoking make our bodies vulnerable to free radical damage, which could weaken the immune system and make it easier for illnesses to develop. There are many natural ways to detoxify the body but one of the best ways is through the consumption of seaweed.
Seaweed eliminates toxins and fats from the body and supports liver health. The sodium alginate found in seaweed, particularly kelp, acts as a sponge for toxins from the digestive tract.
One study observed that seaweed absorbs cadmium, which can pile up from cigarette smoke as well as industrial and transportation emissions in the environment. (4) Green seaweed is also a very powerful detoxifier since it contains chlorophyll, which has fibers that attract and extricate toxins.
5. Seaweed is a great all-purpose tonic.
Seaweed-derived beverages and soups have been consumed in the Caribbean and Ireland for centuries as all-purpose tonics, especially when feeling ill. Some individuals say kelp can lessen phlegm and decrease inflammation, and it is considered a natural hangover cure for those who are suffering from the effects of alcohol consumption.
Brown seaweed may help regulate the acid-alkaline balance, while possessing a prebiotic effect on the stomach flora, which helps in protecting the lining of the gut. Seaweed is likewise utilized in home remedies in treating digestive issues. Studies have shown that that brown seaweed could be an effective weight control tool due to its reaction with lipase activity, an enzyme utilized by the body to metabolize fats. (5)
6. Seaweed helps alleviate swelling.
Several research projects have shown that seaweed is an enormously potent source of antioxidants, which help avoid inflammation. (6) Consuming seaweed may thus lessen the odds of developing arthritis, asthma, celiac disease, depression and heaviness. Research on the antioxidant behavior of two edible green seaweeds, ulva prolifera and ulva genus, found differing amounts of phenolic compounds, which are among the most potent antioxidants found in marine algae.
7. Seaweed is excellent for weight loss and fat loss purposes.
Proper nutrition is essential for those looking to shed extra weight. In order to lose weight/fat, you must consume less calories than you burn. This negative energy balance will force the body to burn stored fat in order to fill the gap, and is the most basic way to achieve goals for fat loss or weight loss. Maintaining good health while on a diet means consuming foods that are less calorie dense but are packed with a variety of nutrients to ensure satiety and overall health.
For every 100 grams of seaweed, you would only be consuming 45 calories. Additionally, for this amount, 100 grams of seaweed only contains 1 gram of fat, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 3 grams of protein, and 0.5 grams of dietary fiber. (7) With its high protein content, seaweed will keep you feeling satiated throughout the day while on a diet. Additionally, the protein will help your muscles recover from high intensity exercise. For those who are on a plant-based diet, seaweed is an excellent option that is low in fat.
8. Seaweed promotes healthy hair.
Healthy hair, in some ways, is a sign of good health. However, there are external factors that can affect its texture and appearance. For example, the weather and where we live play a huge role in the condition of our hair. Dry or extremely humid environments can dry up the scalp or make hair appear too oily.
Seaweed extracts help promote healthy and strong hair strands, in addition to providing it the proteins required for repair and growth. Eating seaweed or consuming marine extract pills boosts scalp hydration, which invigorates dry hair, and can also intensify hair mineralization, encouraging thicker hair strands. (8) Seaweed-derived shampoos and conditioners can also enhance hair shine and appearance, as well as protect it from environmental damage.
9. Seaweed may promote cardiovascular health.
According to nutrition reports, seaweed may help prevent high blood pressure. Research from Kyoto University has shown that the fibers in brown seaweed reduced risk of stroke and lowered blood pressure in subjects.
Okinawans, the longest-lived population, are known for eating 7-10 servings of fruits and sea vegetables daily, including seaweed. They have consistently shown low homocysteine, which is a heart-damaging chemical, in addition to having low cholesterol and supple arteries. (9)
Though seaweed can certainly be called a superfood for it’s amazing benefits, there exist possible health scenarios to ponder prior to adding it to every meal. For instance, dulse, a variety of red seaweed, contains more than 30 times the levels of potassium than a similarly sized banana. Consuming such copious levels of potassium invites the risk of triggering heart palpitations in individuals with kidney problems.
Another possible issue is that the US Food and Drug Administration controls and sanctions commercial seaweed, however not seaweed supplements, meaning they could possibly be sourced from polluted waters.
Seaweed is an excellent choice for when you want a much-needed healthy snack, or a general add-on to any healthy and balanced diet. It contains a wealth of minerals that account for approximately one-third its dry mass. High in calcium, magnesium, iodine, iron, protein, vitamins A and C, and more, this superfood offers numerous benefits.