Is Seaweed the New Superfood?
Not all health foods are appealing. For the majority of the population, if they are going to last on a diet or any kind of healthier eating they are going to have to be attracted to the foods they eat on a daily basis. For the small percentage that will stick to healthy eating whether they like the food or not, we applaud you! Health and wellness are increasingly hot topics lately and thankfully more and more people are getting interested in taking better care of themselves. Choosing the right meals based on total calories, fat, protein, and carbs are important, but there is more to healthy eating than that.
Foods with multiple healthful nutrients such as vitamin, minerals, fiber, healthy fats, phytochemicals, and antioxidants should be at the top of the list when choosing meals. These nutritiously dense foods are referred to as ‘superfoods’. Examples of superfoods are berries, fish, beans, nuts, and kale. One food that has been considered a superfood for quite some time now, but has not necessarily been that popular in the Western society is seaweed. People in Japan and other East Asian cultures have grown up eating this superfood, commonly referred to as “sea vegetables”. What most people in all other parts of the world do not know is of its many health benefits.
Excellent Source of Iodine
Iodine is an important nutrient that is not found in many foods. The main role of iodine in the human body is to help maintain a healthy thyroid gland, which is what regulates hormones. Thyroid problems are quite common and can result in blood pressure issues, weight gain, depleted energy, and heart palpitations, among other problems. You may have noticed that the salt you buy to cook with at home is termed “iodized salt”, which has been around for decades now to address the worldwide problem of iodine deficiency. This problem is once again on the rise as more people are limiting salt in their diets due to blood pressure and other health concerns, as well as the overconsumption of processed foods that are loaded with iodine-free salt.
This is where seaweed can definitely come in to relieve the deficiency. This powerful source gets its iodine content from the seawater it lives in, so the amounts in each type will depend on what part of the ocean that specific batch came from. One gram of brown seaweed can contain anywhere near five to fifty times the recommended daily amount. Providing a healthy dose of iodine, seaweed can help manage many hormone-related problems such as PMS, fertility issues, menopausal symptoms, and the function of sexual organs.
Seaweed contains many cancer-fighting nutrients called polysaccharides and glycoproteins, which are known to be anti-viral and immune-stimulants as well. Several research studies have been conducted on the benefits of seaweed for treating and preventing breast cancer, and the results have been promising. Since this food source plays a role in regulating hormones, it is involved in controlling the levels of estrogen and estradiol, which is linked to a lower risk of breast cancer.
Assists with Digestive Problems
The same polysaccharides that are involved in the cancer-fighting ability of seaweed also help with the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract, as well as metabolizing fats. Some studies have found that seaweed has prebiotic functions, which assists with fighting off harmful bacteria that can cause illness, leading to digestive problems.
Prevention of Blood Clots and Protects the Heart
Another role of the polysaccharides present in seaweed poses anti-coagulant properties, meaning it is a natural blood thinner. This function essentially decreases the risk of not only blood clots, but other more serious conditions such as cardiac failure, arterial problems, and stroke. Studies have shown that seaweed also helps lower levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, promoting heart health.
Promotes Healthy Skin
The plentiful vitamins and minerals in seaweed provide the body with anti-aging benefits. This superfood is commonly used in skin care cosmetics due to these nutrients protecting against the harmful environmental damage to the skin. You may have heard of seaweed wraps provided in spas all around the world. Well, this is because seaweed helps cleanse the skin by removing toxins from the pores.
These are just a few of the many health benefits seaweed provides to the human body. Of course, you have to find a way to enjoy it. Many culinary professionals are using seaweed as an ingredient in several dishes around the world, so it is possible to make it tasty. There are few side effects of consuming seaweed. If you are currently taking medications for thyroid issues or on anticoagulants, it is advisable to consult with your doctor before including seaweed in your diet. It is also important to discuss the effects of seaweed consumption with your doctor if you are pregnant or nursing as this food source plays a role in hormone regulation.