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Apr 30, 2020 Diet & Nutrition Samantha Mainland 178 views

For many Australians, eating seaweed is a foreign concept. For a country that has such large stretches of beaches, this is a missed opportunity.

Maybe it’s the general ugliness of seaweed, or the potential toxicity of seaweed that has led seaweed away from our dinner plates, but it should not any longer.

Seaweed is a general term used to describe many different species of algae and marine plants. They can grow in a variety of waters, including the sea, lakes and rivers. However, seaweed from the ocean is generally edible, whereas freshwater varieties tend to be toxic.

The seawater seaweed is the superfood we should be including on our plates.

These saltwater ‘sea vegetables’ are one of the most ancient plants on earth and among the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet. The chemistry and physiology of seaweeds is quite different to that of land plants, in such a way that seaweed absorbs all the minerals and nutrients in seawater and creates a concentrated food source, full of the basic elements needed as building blocks for the human body.

This alone should pique your interest – a concentrated food source of minerals and nutrients.

Seaweed is possibly best known for its rich levels of iodine. This iodine content has the potential to support thyroid function, and as such, support metabolism, temperature, weight, mood and bowel function. This iodine content is so rich that it is part of the reason we need to be mindful about how much seaweed we consume. Iodine in large amounts can be toxic. However, iodine is necessary for healthy body function.

Seaweed is also an amazing source of fibre (both soluble and insoluble), calcium, potassium, magnesium, sodium, iron and various vitamins[1]. The exact content of each of these nutrients is highly variable due to the type of seaweed, location and harvest conditions. Regardless, the values of these nutrients range from ‘decent’, to ‘significant’, and potentially to ‘toxic’.

With this in mind, and remembering that seaweed absorbs nutrients and minerals from the ocean water, it is understandable that seaweed is a powerhouse food that only needs to be eaten in small amounts. Adding 2 tablespoons of dried seaweed to your salad or veggies can be enough for a day’s intake.

Not sure how to eat it? No problem.

  • Raw is best. Grab some finely chopped, dried seaweed and sprinkle it onto your cooked rice, roasted vegetables, salad, Asian stir fry or omelette.
  • Rehydrate it, add it to coleslaw, or make an alternative coleslaw and add it to a burger
  • Make a seaweed mayo
  • Use the seaweed paper as a wrap alternative
  • Add it to salad dressing
  • Rehydrate it and add cucumber and sesame seeds to make it into a salad
  • Add it to soups and stews

Looking for the step by step recipes, look here: https://www.brit.co/living/healthy-eating/seaweed-recipes/

The fact that seaweed is a great source of fibre, iodine and many other nutrients and vitamins, makes it easy to see how many are spruiking it for its gut health, diabetes support, weight loss potential, heart health, metabolism booster and thyroid support. Get some seaweed from your local health food store or supermarket and start feeling the benefits.

 

[1] MacArtain, P., et al. (2007). “Nutritional value of edible seaweeds.Nutr Rev 65(12 Pt 1): 535-543.

Samantha Mainland

About The Author - Samantha Mainland

Samantha is a highly educated Naturopath having graduated from both Southern Cross University with a Bachelor of Naturopathy, and University of Tasmania with a Bachelor of Medicine Management with Professional Honours in Complementary Medicine.

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