Seaweed may just be the most nutrient dense plant on the planet. The potential health benefits of consuming the various seaweed types are many: help loose weight around the mid-section, makes skin clear and wrinkle-free, makes hairy look healthy and younger looking, improves brain function, strengthens bones, boosts the immune system, maintains healthy thyroid function, has strong cancer prevention properties and helps protect us from cardiovascular disease. Research into different types of seaweed lead scientists to believe that seaweed may inhibit enzymes which regulate fat digestion. This in addition to the positive effects seaweed has on healthy thyroid function which regulates the bodies metabolism suggests that consuming seaweed is a powerful tool to help you loose weight. With all of these potential health benefits don't overlook adding seaweed to your diet regularly.
The exact composition of seaweed varies from type to type but some of the shared characteristics of seaweed are: high concentrations of calcium, vitamins A, B1, B2, C and E, iron, a wide array of antioxidants, iodine, magnesium, essential fatty acids, and many antibacterial and antiviral compounds. The chemical composition of seaweed is relatively close to our own blood which is why it is thought seaweed can play an important role in regulating and purifying our blood. Seaweeds are also base forming which helps to counteract acidic foods which are common in western diets.
What is Seaweed?
Seaweed is is a family of water algae which includes three main types: green, brown and red. Green seaweed can live in both freshwater and salt water while brown and red are found exclusively in salt water. Seaweed plays a very important role in the ecology of oceans and large bodies of water and it is this access to the vast amounts of minerals and nutrients in the oceans that make this plant so potent.
Nori is a red seaweed used typically as a thin paper to wrap rice in sushi rolls. Nori is one of the most nutritious seaweed types as up to fifty percent is digestible protein. Vitamin content is also very high with significant amounts of niacin and folic acid also present. One drawback of red seaweed is a relative lack of iodine compared to other seaweed types. Look for the untoasted nori products for maximum nutrient density.
Kelp is a brown seaweed found along ocean shores often used in skin treatment seaweed baths. They are often cultivated for use in seaweed extract products but can also be prepared and eaten in a variety of dishes. It has especially high protein and niacin content.
A brown seaweed found primarily in east Asia, Wakame is typically blanched or salted and eaten with soups and noodles. Wakame has a high dietary fiber content and is particulary rich in vitamins of the B group.
Kombus is a Japanese term for dried seaweed which is derived from a family of Laminaria species of seaweed. Although the protein and vitamin content is lower relative to other seaweed it has a very high amounts of iron and significant amounts of iodine.
A red seaweed, Dulse is usually eaten raw and used to season vegetables or soups. Dulse is a very good source of minerals required for human nutrition especially iron.
There is little debate that seaweed is an excellent source of a wide variety of minerals, vitamins, amino acids and antioxidants and so should be regularly consumed by everyone. If you dislike the taste of seaweed but still wish to enjoy all of the potential health benefits there are seaweed extract products usually found in pill form which can be purchased.