Are you looking for a delicious yet healthy type of food that will bring you many health benefits? Well, seaweeds are one of the healthiest foods and will satisfy your needs. Although their health benefits may be considered a great surprise to people who are not familiar with these types of food. Still there are lots of people who are really interested to know more about seaweeds and wonder what amazing health benefits they provide us.
I love seaweeds not only because they are easy to make different dishes, but also they satisfy my appetite without loading more calories into my body.
The Origin of Seaweeds :
Seaweeds belong to the algae groups. They absorb water and nutrients directly from the surrounding water into all their tissues. Seaweeds are found in the salt water and live along the ocean coastlines.
Seaweeds anchor themselves at the bottom of the ocean. They are three different colors mainly the red, green and the brown. They are also subdivided into two categories which are the kelp and the wracks seaweeds. They prefer the sunlit areas in the ocean at about 25 to 130 feet deep but can live at almost 820 feet deep. They are commonly found in the rocky bottoms of the tidal as well as the sub-tidal zones of the oceans with clear water. When it comes to their reproduction, they are reproducing similar to some bacteria found in the ocean without undergoing fertilization
But there are other seaweeds that are releasing fertilized spores in the water which eventually spread and grow seaweeds again.
Seaweed farming began in Japan as early as 1670 and has been popular in Japan, China, and Korea.
There are different types of seaweeds; here are a few popular ones.
Kelp or kombu:
these seaweeds have dark brown color and have long and thick strips. They commonly grow in the deep and cold waters such as the northern region of Arctic sea. They can be prepared as a salad or a side dish with other vegetables such as shiitake mushrooms or soups. When cooking beans, kelp makes them more digestible to reduce gas. You can buy fresh, dried or pickled forms in some grocery stores.
these types of seaweeds are probably the most familiar seaweed in the Western cuisine. Laver is a commonly eaten seaweed similar to nori in North America. The original seaweeds are typically purplish-black, but when toasted, they add a little dark green color. They are commonly used to make the sushi rolls as the thin dark sheets. You can make your own sushi at home with the untoasted nori sheets for a better result.
When purchasing the nori sheets or flakes, it is a good idea to check the ingredients to make sure that all the ingredients are natural. Roasted nori flakes can be mixed with other ingredients such as sesame seeds, some fresh herbs, and leafy vegetables to make a delicious and nutritious salad. They are also commonly used in making soups in the Chinese and Japanese cuisines.
is another most widely consumed seaweed. It is a tender, thin and dark green seaweed, its texture is similar to the cooked spinach. Wakame is available both in fresh or dehydrated forms. It tastes the best when hydrated in the water for a few minutes before being used. It is commonly used in the miso soups and seaweed salads.
Many essential elements in terms of the human health are present in seaweeds. Based on the chart below, seaweeds are a good source of magnesium, iodine, folate, iron, Vitamin B groups and calcium.
Health benefits :
Seaweeds are rich in folic acid and magnesium, which helps reduce homocysteine levels and help prevent the heart diseases. Homocysteine is an amino acid that is found in the blood. Researchers suggest that a high level of homocysteine is related to the development of heart diseases. In addition, adequate levels of folic acid in the diet are important to prevent birth defects.
Chia seeds are another super food that can benefit your heart.
Detoxification and purification
Seaweeds are rich in chlorophyll, a green pigment, which is a potent detoxifier that dumps out the wastes. A study from McGill University in Canada indicated that seaweeds help remove radiation by-products, heavy metals and other environmental toxins from the body. They offer a broad range of detoxification. But make sure that the seaweed you use is from a reputable resource.
You can combine Probiotics to help improve your gut function and reduce the chronic inflammation in your body.
Hormone balances and cancer prevention
Seaweeds are rich in lignans, which are phytoestrogens that are similar to the estrogen. They mimic the functions performed by the estrogen and reduce the effects of the estrogen by displacing it from the cells. lignans also inhibit estrogen synthesis in the fat cells. In postmenopausal women, fat tissue is a primary site for the synthesis of estrogen, and high levels of certain estrogen metabolites are associated with the breast cancer.
In addition, lignans also behave like Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators that may slow the growth of the cancer cells and reduce chronic inflammation, which may help prevent the breast cancer, cervical cancer, and other cancers.[2 3] Lignans are present in many plant foods including flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, wheat brans, beans, fruits, and vegetables, etc.
Read How to balance your hormones and prevent weight gain to know more about the causes and consequences of hormone imbalance.
Seaweeds are low in calories and fat, which makes them a healthy snack for weight loss. Seaweeds are a good source of fiber that helps reduce hunger and prolong the fullness, therefore, promote weight loss. They also have a high concentration of iodine, which as a component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid gland needs iodine to synthesize these hormones. Iodine helps stimulate the thyroid gland and maintain a healthy metabolism. In addition, kelp or kombu contains the pigment called fucoxanthin, which may help metabolize your body fat for energy.Fiber also helps reduce your blood cholesterol and benefits your heart function.
These are just some of the important health benefits that seaweeds can provide you and help keep your body at its healthiest state.
Coconut flour is another good source of fiber and also gluten free.
How to enjoy seaweed in many ways?
- Make a quick low-calorie healthy salad lunch wrap with nori sheets instead of bread. You can fill your wrap with leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken or fish, avocado, etc.
- Enjoy seaweed chips instead of the potatoes chips as a healthy snack to reduce your food cravings for sweets and fatty foods. Seaweed can be dehydrated or baked to make crispy chips that have fewer calories and lots of fiber.
- Add seaweed and spirulina powder into your smoothies to make a healthy energy drink that keeps you full longer. You can also add maca and cocoa powder to supercharge its anti-aging power.
- Make a health seaweed salad by mixing different types of seaweeds with cucumbers, lettuce, and onions, etc. Add some ginger, sesame seeds, and homemade salad dressing to make it more delicious.
- Add chopped seaweeds to your soups to enhance the color and texture.
- Add seaweed flakes to your omelet and sauté with shiitake mushrooms and onions to make a delicious and nutrients-dense choice for breakfast.
Healthy and delicious seaweed recipes:
- Ingredients: (4 servings)
- Wakame dry seaweed (cut): 1/4 cup.
- Green onions (thinly sliced): ¼ cup.
- Cilantro (fresh, chopped): 2 tbsps.
- Sesame seeds (roasted): 1 tbsp.
- Sesame oil: 1tbsp.
- Rice vinegar: 2 tbsps.
- Soy sauce: 2 tbsps.
- Ginger (finely chopped): 1 tsp.
- Garlic (finely chopped): ½ tsp.
- Coconut sugar: 1 tsp.
- Red pepper flakes (dry): pinch
- Soak seaweed in cold water in a large bowl and cover for 5 to 10 minutes until it is tender. Drain, rinse and squeeze out excess water.
- In a large bowl, stir together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, coconut sugar, pepper flakes, ginger, and garlic until sugar is dissolved. Add seaweed, scallions and cilantro and toss well.
- Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the salad before serving.
Seaweed chips :
- Nori sheet (untoasted): 7
- Coconut oil: 1 tbsp.
- Sea salt: ¼ tsp.
- Oil spray
- Spices of your choice such as dry onion powder, garlic powder, sesame seeds, etc.
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Cut through all nori sheets into whatever shapes that will fit your container.
- Spray a baking sheet lightly with the oil. Place nori sheet on the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Lightly brush the nori with coconut oil by using a pastry brush or a finger.
- Sprinkle the nori sheet with sea salt and any seasoning that you like to try. It should stick to the oil.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until nori chips become dry and crispy, flip once.
- Let it cool and enjoy your seaweed snacks!
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- Retrieved from http://www.lef.org/protocols/heart_circulatory/homocysteine_reduction_01.htm on 15 August 2014.
- Buck K, Zaineddin AK, Vrieling A, Linseisen J, Chang-Claude J. Meta-analyses of lignans and enterolignans in relation to breast cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;92(1):141-153
- Velentzis LS, Cantwell MM, Cardwell C, Keshtgar MR, Leathem AJ, Woodside JV. Lignans and breast cancer risk in pre- and post-menopausal women: meta-analyses of observational studies. Br J Cancer. 2009 May 5;100(9):1492-1498. Epub 2009 Mar 31.
- Retrieved from http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2009.01132.x/abstract;jsessionid=4A0421053B827B1626C596065D216519.f01t02 on 15 August 2014.
“To insure good health: Eat lightly, breathe deeply, live moderately, cultivate cheerfulness, and maintain an interest in life.”– William Londen