The Health Benefits of Seaweed

Seaweed has been consumed by humans for centuries. Many early civilizations were built near the seas because the water supplied a constant supply of food. In fact Britain, Japan and China are renowned for their tradition of harvesting seaweed. Whether they realized it or not, these ancient people obtained many health benefits from the seaweed they ate to supplement their diet.


However these days seaweed as a whole is well-known for its nutritional benefits and is touted as one of the best vegetables on the market by many people in health care, even those in medical coding, due to all the vitamins and minerals it contains. For instance, seaweed can have up to 20 times more vitamins and minerals that food grown on land. This is because the nutrients in the soil are being depleted, yet the sea water naturally contains a multitude of minerals. In addition to all the vitamins and minerals, it is a rich source of protein and carbohydrates. While there are almost has many different varieties of seaweed as there are fish in the sea, they all belong to the general classification of algae. However each type does often have it’s own unique properties or recipes in which it is used; some of the most common are:

Lava or Laver

Lava, also known as lavers, is a kind of kelp popular in Wales and Ireland. The Welsh have been making lava bread, a type of flat cakes out of seaweed for thousands of years.

Nori

Nori is a type of laver that is harvested in many Asian countries including Japan, China and Korea. It is a popular component of sushi wrappers. Nori is high in protein and a great source of iron and iodine. It also contains vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, riboflavin and potassium.

Dulse

Dulse comes from the north seas of Iceland and Nova Scotia. The people of Iceland often soaked it overnight in water and ate it with milk for breakfast. Dulse is 10-20 percent protein and is high in magnesium, beta carotene and iron. It is often used in skin care products because of its emollient and moisturizing properties.

Carrageen

Carrageen, or Irish Moss contains various minerals as well as retinol. The Irish have used it as a home remedy for coughs and colds for hundreds of years. More recently, it has been used in many foods and snacks as a thickener due to its emulsifying properties, where it is labeled as Carageenan.

Kelp

Kelp, also known as Kombu, is a type of brown seaweed. It has an extremely high iodine content and has been used to treat thyroid disorders that occur from lack of iodine in the diet. It is also a good source of magnesium, iron and vitamin B9. It is widely used in commercial products including food, cosmetics, toothpaste and fertilizer.

Wakame

Wakame is a variety of kelp that is commonly used in stews and soups. Research shows that wakame has anti-obesity properties due to a carotenoid known as fucoxanthin found in it. It is also high in essential fatty acids.

One of the other health benefits of seaweed is that it may help to prevent osteoporosis. This is because seaweed contains more calcium than a glass of milk. Additionally, the naturally occurring magnesium in the plant works as an anti-inflammatory.

Seaweed may also have anti-cancer properties because of the phytoestrogen found in it. Not only that, but it has also been shown to be helpful in relieving PMS and menopausal symptoms due to its lignans. Finally, another key health benefit of seaweed is that it can increase the body metabolism, as the alginic acid in it can bind with heavy metals in the body and help in detoxification.

Modern science is still discovering the health benefits of seaweed that many societies have known for generations. It has been consumed safely by generations of people who have utilized it in their diet. Whether you enjoy it in a salad, in your sushi or in some other food, you will definitely benefit from all the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients found in seaweed.

Guest Post By: Patricia Walling

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2 Responses to “The Health Benefits of Seaweed”

  1. Sus from Proteinbar Says:

    I am more familiar with nori because I eat sushi. Kelp is pretty popular too due to its cosmetic advantages. I’ve been seeing it on bottles of lotions and slimming products.

  2. Tina from wedding favors Says:

    I am really a sucker for seaweeds but do they have limitations? Just like once a week or what if we have them like three times a day? Does it have harmful contents that if consumed continuously will give us health problems in the future?

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