Integrative Nutrition Blog

7 Ways to Eat More Seaweed (and Why You Should)

November 10, 2015

Image via Shutterstock

An oldie but goodie superfood, Seaweed, is making waves again thanks to the discovery of a new type of seaweed that tastes like bacon and is better for you than kale. This could be good news for bacon lovers given the World Health Organization’s recent declaration that eating processed meats such as bacon and sausage can increase the risk of colorectal cancer.

But why is seaweed so good for you? And can it actually taste good?

Nutrition-wise, it’s a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. Seaweeds contain dietary fiber, essential amino acids, vitamins, A, B, C, and E, Omega-3 fats, and minerals such as iodine, calcium, iron, zinc, and magnesium. All of these nutrients combine to reduce inflammation, lift your energy, maintain strong bones and teeth, support thyroid health and hormonal balance, and even reduce your risk of cancer.

It’s no wonder seaweed has been a staple in Asian cuisine for centuries!

While some may have concerns in recent years that seaweed is becoming a potentially harmful food due to the increasing pollution of our oceans, there has not been any evidence to support this despite ongoing testing. That being said, it’s always best to seek out quality products. We recommend finding brands that grow seaweed in sustainable ways and in pure or tested waters.

Let’s get cookin’!

While seaweed hasn’t quite risen to popularity as a superfood like kale or other leafy greens, it’s so versatile and easy to prepare we have a feeling it’ll win you over.

Here are some delicious ways to incorporate more seaweed into your diet:

1. Cook your beans with kombu.
Try adding a strip of kombu when cooking your dried beans to add a rich array of vitamins and minerals to your dish while enhancing the flavor and making the beans more digestible!

2. Snack on nori.
Nori is lightweight and easy to pack yet also nutritious and surprisingly filling.  It’s the perfect thing to throw into your bag for a quick snack at work or on the go, and is a healthy alternative for those with salty cravings. Even your kids will enjoy its crispy texture. Want another great way to use nori? Try these delicious seaweed breakfast wraps!

3. Enhance your smoothies with spirulina.
Powdered seaweed such as spirulina is a great source of natural protein, making it a morning and pre- or post-workout favorite among Health Coaches and smoothie-lovers alike.  Start with a teaspoon added to your preferred smoothie combo (it goes especially well with avocado, banana, or pineapple) and adjust the amount as you get used to it.

4. Add a dash of seaweed flakes to every meal.
Health food stores or Asian markets will have a variety of packaged salts and seasoning that include seaweed. Or you can make your own by combining fine-chopped or ground nori, kombu, dulse, sea salt, black pepper, and sesame seeds. Keep this right along with your most frequently used seasonings and sprinkle it over daily meals.

 5. Mix in kelp or kombu to stocks, soups, and stews.
Add seaweed to any savory liquid-based foods! If you make your own vegetable stock from veggie scraps toss in a strip of seaweed and strain it out along with the other ingredients. If adding directly to soups or stews remove the solid strip before serving but don’t worry about any small pieces left in, they’re edible and will enhance the overall meal.

6. Stir it into your salad dressing.
Sprinkle some powdered seaweed into any salad dressing you’re using, allow it to sit for a minute to mix and absorb, shake well, then toss into your salad.

7. Toss together a seaweed salad.
Wakame and arame are best for a salad made predominantly of seaweed.  Combine with vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, and scallions. You can also incorporate other veggies like cucumbers, carrots, or radishes. Experiment to find your favorite combination and share it as a unique side dish at your next potluck.

There are many more ways to eat seaweed but we hope these ideas are enough to get you started so you can try it for yourself.

What’s your favorite way to eat seaweed? Share in the comments below!

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