We all know about the health benefits of seaweed because they contain iodine etc. We love clams and shrimp but there is a tendency to shy away from seaweed. What are its benefits and how else we can use them?
What species of seaweed to include into a diet?
There are only a few people who are willing to incorporate seaweed into their diet. Typically, people living by sea coasts eat seaweed and they have already appreciated this ingredient as it helps them to increase energy, improve mental health and prolong their life. What seaweed is good? There is over a thousand of species but most of them may be poisonous. They can be used either for cooking or for beauty and pharmacological purposes. Seaweed is good in salads, soups, and it is one of the main ingredients for sushi. In the beauty industry, seaweed is used for face masks and body wraps. This is one of the ingredients in dietary supplements.
Certain species of seaweed are used in all these areas.
Laminaria or sea cabbage as we know it. It is a species of brown algae and a rich source of iodine. Laminaria helps to manage the following conditions:
- thyroid problems;
- electrolyte imbalance;
- metabolic disorders;
- negative consequences of radiation;
- sclerotic changes;
- severe obesity.
Laminaria contains Vitamin C. This is a natural antioxidant and it is essential for fighting aging, preventing cancer, boosting immunity etc.
The highest concentration of the nutrients is in fresh laminaria but part of them is lost by pickling. Other than pickling, you can dry sea cabbage and it preserves more nutrients.
Another brown algae is known by its common name bladder wrack. Other than iodine, it contains Vitamins A and D, iron etc. It was given its name because of its diuretic effect. It may be used to eliminate toxins from the body. Bladder wrack regulates electrolyte balance, improves the heart and vessel functions, stimulates circulation.
Fucoidan in bladder wrack inhibits cancer cell formation and is active against a variety of viruses.
Blue-green algae spirulina contain a protein easy to digest. This is three times the amount of protein in soybeans. Spirulina is a source of 18 the most essential amino acids and some of them humans can not synthesize.
Unprocessed spirulina has the highest concentration of nutrients but raw spirulina is not available for people in our country. Spirulina is produced artificially and you can also take it in the form of dietary supplements.
Ulva or sea lettuce is another species of green algae which is a rich source of iron, digestible protein and fiber. Sea lettuce helps to lose weight and regulates metabolism. While it has few calories, sea lettuce quickly reduces hunger. Ulva is recommended to improve blood, manage sclerosis or rickets.
A green algae Wakame is often used pickled or dried for making Japanese dishes. Fresh seaweed has a nice taste but it does not grow in our country. It contains few calories, iodine and many other useful nutrients. You may want to add Wakame to salads, vegetable stews, soups etc. There are virtually no contraindications.
A red algae Porphyra is very popular in China. It prevents atherosclerosis and contains many vitamins. It is recommended to incorporate Porphyra into a diet if you suffer heart or vessel pathologies.
A red algae lithothamnion is rich in protein and vitamins including iron and magnesium. It helps to detoxify your body, control the thyroid and improve metabolism. However, you should take it with caution, the recommended daily intake is 20 g. You can buy pressed algae in supermarkets.
Before you start using any seaweed, consult your doctor especially, if you have any thyroid disorders.
Seaweed is part of a healthy diet. Its main advantage is few calories and high nutrition value. Seaweed contains a right balance of vitamins and minerals including:
- chlorophyll (in combination with lutein and beta-carotene it has an antimutagenic effect);
- vitamins А, В, С, D, РР, К (this combination has an excellent antioxidative action and slows down aging);
- lipids and Omega-3 (prevent cardiovascular diseases and endocrine disorders);
- alginic acid (its salts have a radioprotective action, alginates have anticancer properties);
- sulfated galactans etc.
- sterines and enzymes;
- micro- and macroelements;
- phenolic compounds.
This balanced foodstuff is essential for every person. Antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulating properties of seaweed are irreplaceable during seasonal flu and influenza. Seaweed gives you a sense of fullness as it quickly expands in the stomach. Seaweed becomes even more useful with green tea.
How to eat seaweed?
The ideal way is to eat raw seaweed adding it to vegetable stews, salads and soups. However, in our country seaweed is not very popular and we can benefit only from dried or pickled seaweed. Choose dried seaweed as they virtually have no preservatives and contain more nutrients.
You may also want to take seaweed dietary supplements with plenty of water but only after consulting your doctor.
Other than cooking, you may use seaweed for making beauty products such as face or hair masks, face creams etc. Purchase seaweed sheets or seaweed powder. Seaweed powder has a great effect with clay, milk, natural honey, and water. Seaweed beauty products rejuvenate skin and make it healthy.