Reading time: 3 minutesPublished: April 8, 2018
Whether you refer to them as sea vegetables or sea weed, they are hugely nutritious and I am a huge fan. So much so that I can often be spotted on the coast foraging for this wonderful, nutrient rich food source.
I clean it up and dehydrate it. I love to add it to soups and stews, breads, crackers and hummus. I even add it to chocolate brownies for an extra healthy punch!
We are very fortunate here in the UK, as all seaweeds are edible and there are so many to choose from.
Just think about it; the sea is an especially potent source of minerals and sea vegetables spend their entire lives luxuriating in our oceans - the world’s largest, oldest and most complete mineral bath. They soak it up and as a result sea vegetables are among the richest sources of iodine, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese, and all other (56 in total) minerals essential to the human body.
Compare that to soil and it’s an entirely different story. Most experts agree that our soil is being rapidly depleted of mineral content by intensive over farming. And since the plants we eat are only as mineral-rich as the soil in which they grow, most commercial vegetation that ends up on our plates isn’t nearly as nutritious as the stuff your grandparents ate.
Seaweed has been used all over the world for thousands of years and is a type of algae. Algae came to existence about three and a half billion years ago and is in 75% of the air we breath.
When you think of seaweed you normally associate it with people from the Far East, yet it has been used all over the world by many different cultures.
Records show that for over 2000 years seaweed has been used as a supportive food in the Japanese diet. It is reported that at least six types of seaweeds were used in 800 A.D in everyday cooking in Japan. In 794, Japanese people used seaweed to make nori, which is a dried sheet of seaweed, which we see in sushi.
Some research also suggests that seaweed has been used since 2700 BC in China. In 600 BC, Sze Teu wrote that in China that seaweed was made for special guests or kings. In 300 BC, Chi Han wrote a book about seaweed. In China, kelp was used in the 5th century for food.
In Europe, Mediterranean seaweeds were used as medicine in Greek and Roman times. Greeks even used seaweed to feed animals as early as 100 BC. In the Mediterranean, some red algae were used as sources of dying agents and as a medicine to treat parasitic worms since pre-Christian times.
Seaweed is loaded with health benefits. Let's take a look at my 3 top reasons to include more of this wonderful food into your diet today.
Vitamin K - Seaweed provides a source of vitamin K, a fat-soluble nutrient. Vitamin K communicates with platelets, the type of cells that form blood clots. When you develop an injury, vitamin K helps send a chemical signal that tells your platelets to aggregate and form a blood clot, so that your body can stop the flow of blood from your wound. Some types of seaweed can help you reach your dailyrecommended vitamin K intake of 90 micrograms for women or 120 for men. A cup of kelp contains 26 micrograms of the nutrient -- 29 or 22 percent of the daily vitamin K requirements for women or men, respectively. Wakame and spirulina contain less vitamin K -- 2 micrograms per cup or tablespoon, respectively.
Calcium - Adding seaweed to your diet also helps you modestly boost your intake of calcium, an essential mineral. Most of your body's calcium goes toward keeping your bones and teeth strong -- calcium makes up part of hydroxyapatite, the mineralized tissue that comprises a large portion of your bones. Smaller amounts of calcium also help your muscles contract, aid in cell communication and contribute to nervous system function. Both kelp and wakame contain around 60 milligrams of calcium, or 6 percent of your daily calcium requirements.
Iron - Sea vegetables also contain iron which helps you produce energy needed to fuel your day-to-day activities. It also helps nourish your circulatory system to improve blood flow to your tissues. Low iron levels cause iron-deficiency anemia, a condition characterized by decreased energy levels, a pale complexion and shortness of breath. A cup of kelp or wakame seaweed offers 1.1 or 0.8 milligram of iron, respectively, while each tablespoon of dried spirulina provides 2 milligrams of the mineral. Incorporate seaweed into your diet to help you reach the 8 milligrams of iron required daily for men, or 18 milligrams for women.
Cooking with Seaweed
Seaweed makes healthy soups and salads. Use kelp or wakame with sesame oil, freshly grated ginger and sesame seeds for a healthy salad, or cook the seaweed in miso broth along with marinated tofu as a nutrient-dense soup. Up your consumption of dried spirulina by adding the seaweed to smoothies or soups -- this type of seaweed is rich in protein, and each tablespoon also boosts your protein intake by 4 grams. Alternatively, try mixing spirulina into spreads, such as hummus, for use in sandwiches.
If you don't fancy harvesting your own you can easily buy some and you might like to try out this really simple recipe. Simple buy some ready made hummus (or better still make your own) and add a teaspoon of sea salad or flaked kelp. Stir through and allow to stand for 30 minutes so that the sea weed can rehydrate. Then kick back and relax with crackers and hummus. Easy!
It's easy to see why seaweed is so popular and now you know my 3 top reasons to start eating this superfood. So, how will you get yours today?
Written by: Mimi