When most people think of seaweed, they think of long tangled leafy tendrils floating in the ocean or laying ashore crisscrossing sandy beaches. Unless you’re a sushi lover, seaweed is probably not something you eat every day (or even think of as a tasty treat!). However, many cultures have regularly consumed seaweed for centuries to their great benefit.
Let’s look at some of the reasons this super healthy veggie of the sea is becoming so popular.
Seaweed Health Benefits
- A study published by Scientific Reports in December 2019 demonstrated that seaweed has anti-viral and anti-cancer benefits.
- According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, ingesting seaweed can help reverse metabolic syndrome even in those individuals where symptoms are already present.
- Regular consumption of seaweed has shown to regulate hormones such as estrogen and estradiol. This can help reduce symptoms of PMS and incidences of hormonally-based disorders and cancers.
What are the nutrition benefits of seaweed?
- Seaweed is one of the most nutrient-dense foods available on the market! While low in calories, seaweed packs a powerhouse of micronutrients. It contains a high amount of vitamins B, A, C, E and K. In addition, it is one of the very few non-animal sources of B12, which makes it a perfect addition for those who eat little to no meat.
- Seaweed is also a natural source of iodine which is essential for proper thyroid function. As people have been moving away from processed iodized salt in favor of Himalayan sea salt, incorporating additional sources of iodine has become even more important.
- As a great source of antioxidants, seaweed can help prevent inflammation and reduce the severity of asthma, depression, arthritis and obesity.
- All algae absorb the minerals in the waters they’re grown in, so seaweed grown in mineral-rich waters will also contain those minerals. These could include calcium, selenium, copper, potassium, and zinc.
- Due to a high level of insoluble fiber, seaweed can also help increase the feeling of satiety after a meal, which can reduce overeating and cravings.
Where do I buy seaweed?
Since seaweed can be easily contaminated by waters that are not kept clean, it’s important to find a clean organic source. The most commonly consumed form of seaweed for salad is kelp, which is of the brown variety. Other types of seaweed used in salad include wakame, nori, sea lettuce, hijiki, dulse, or Irish Moss.
It’s sometimes difficult to find fresh seaweed or pre-made seaweed salads, except at upscale markets, such as Whole Foods, or sushi restaurants and Asian specialty stores. However, many markets (including online markets) will sell dried seaweed that can be easily reconstituted to make the base of your salad. Just soak the dried leaves in a little bit of cold water for a few minutes and it’s ready to use.
How else can I incorporate seaweed into my diet?
1. Add it into a stir fry or noodle dish.
Hijiki seaweed makes a great addition to a vegetable stir fry or noodle dish, adding a flavorful crunch and packing a good source of iron, calcium, and phosphorus. It looks similar to black linguini and can even act as a replacement for noodles. Sautee with tofu and top with soy sauce and sesame oil for a delicious Japanese-inspired dish.
2. Use it in a soup.
Whether it be a vegetable broth or miso soup, wakame seaweed is an easy addition to any broth. It provides an extra nutritional punch to savory soups and stews, and pairs well with vegetables like zucchini, carrots, and bok choy.
3. Use spirulina—a powdered form of seaweed—in a smoothie.
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is known to help detox the body, providing chlorophyll, which helps remove toxins from the blood, and also helping lower blood pressure. You can add this superfood powder into your morning smoothie for an extra boost, blending it with coconut milk, banana, spinach, and mixed berries.
Wakame Seaweed Salad Recipe
Unfortunately, going to an Asian restaurant or a specialty store to pick up a pre-made seaweed salad becomes an expensive habit! Plus – they may contain extra ingredients, such as sugars, artificial colors, or MSG that you might want to avoid.
Seaweed salads are so simple and quick to make that we wanted to share a simple base salad recipe that you can customize any way you’d like! Make it your own by adding yummy ingredients like avocado, carrots, radishes, beets, jicama, sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds.
2 cups of dried Wakame seaweed
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
¼ tsp. hot chili paste (if you like the extra kick)
- Soak Wakame in cold water for 5-10 minutes.
- Try a piece and if still super tough, continue soaking and testing every few minutes until it reaches the desired consistency.
- Add in additional ingredients of your choice, like avocado, beets, carrots, etc.
- For dressing, whisk the rest of the ingredients together and pour over seaweed leaves.
Do you enjoy eating seaweed? Share in the comments below!