Seaweed may be something you never thought would be a part of your balanced diet (and maybe never wanted it to be). Or perhaps you just can’t imagine something green and slimy from the ocean floor could offer you any benefits. But seaweed is actually packed full of nutrients and can taste delicious.
In fact, people living in China and Japan have enjoyed seaweed as a part of their daily meals for centuries. In the U.S., the seaweed market is now growing, as companies on the northeastern coast have started cultivating seaweed on shore in tanks. “Sea veggies” are becoming more common in the Western world, especially as the organic food movement continues to expand.1
There are all different kinds of seaweed, and each can aid in nutritional and digestive health, since seaweed is rich in dietary fiber and essential amino acids.2 Also known as macroalgae, seaweed is a great source of phytochemicals, including carotenoids, fatty acids, polysaccharides, and vitamins, which can all strengthen our biological activity.3
It also offers the following health benefits:
Benefit #1: Seaweed is low-calorie, like any other vegetable. For example, one cup of Kelp seaweed has less than 20 calories.
Benefit #2: Seaweed is full of Vitamin K, and can help you reach the daily-recommended intake of 90 micrograms for women and 120 for men. Many studies show Vitamin K can aid in blood clotting, as well as play a major role in improving bone health. One cup of kelp seaweed offers about 26 micrograms of the nutrient.4
Benefit #3: Seaweed is rich in Iron, which is a necessity for us to keep our energy levels normal. The daily-recommended intake for Iron is 18 milligrams for women and 8 milligrams for men. Iron nourishes the circulatory system by improving blood flow to the tissues. Just one tablespoon of Spirulina seaweed has 2 milligrams of Iron.
Benefit #4: Seaweed can help boost your calcium intake. As we all know, calcium keeps our bones and teeth strong, and it’s also a necessity for our hearts, nerves, and muscles. The recommended intake of calcium is about 1,000 milligrams per day. One serving of Wakame seaweed has about 60 milligrams of calcium.
You don’t have to overhaul your refrigerator to incorporate seaweed into your wholesome diet. Use a few simple tips to start using it in meals you already like:
In Salads. Seaweed can be eaten in simple salads, using both the Kelp and Wakame types mixed together with sesame oil and seeds, as well as grated ginger. You can also toss in some thinly sliced cucumbers and tomato if you wish.
In Smoothies and Soups. You can add seaweeds higher in protein, like dried Spirulina, to smoothies or noodle soups.
At Breakfast. Just use it like you would use spinach in your omelets. Try mixing it with some shitake mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
Instead of chips. Like kale, seaweed can be baked in the oven, as a great alternative to high-fat chips. You can also find seaweed crisps at Korean markets or online.
You can find seaweed at Asian grocery stores, as well as in large supermarket chains like Whole Foods. Try it out and let us know what you think!