In the world of seafood, the first thing that usually pops to mind are the many types of fish. For those that live in East Asian countries, it’s actually seaweed that is among the most popular foods you can pull from the ocean. Seaweed is a type of algae that is picked from the ocean, and eaten in a variety of different ways. Those that live in Western countries are probably more used to only ever eating seaweed as part of a sushi roll.
However, people should be eating raw seaweed more often because of its nutritional value. Seaweed creates a lot of proven health benefits that has even helped to extend the life expectancy in countries where seaweed is eaten more frequently. It can be a bit tough to find in some places around the world, but eating more seaweed will really go a long way. Let’s look at the nutritional breakdown of seaweed, and those proven health benefits you’ll be getting.
Nutrition of Seaweed
Seaweed has the benefit of being very low in calories, but also very high in nutrition. In a two ounce serving, seaweed has just around 25 calories. That comes with a small amount of fiber and dietary fiber, though not significant sources. Of the vitamins, you are getting more than 25 percent of your daily folate recommendation. Other vitamins in smaller amounts (under 10 percent) include vitamin A, vitamin K, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C.
The most abundant mineral you can find in seaweed is manganese, with 40 percent of your daily recommended value. You’re also getting more than 10 percent of your magnesium recommendation. The other minerals that come in under 10 percent include calcium, iron, phosphorus and copper. Finally, there are more than 100 milligrams of important omega-3 fatty acids.
Heart of the Sea
Many people are worried about their heart health due to poor diets and family problems. With heart disease being so common, we’re more mindful of what we’re eating. Seaweed should be one of the foods to add to your diet when looking to improve heart health. There are many different types of nutrients in seaweed such as fiber that can all contribute to overall better heart health.
Studies have shown that you can not only reduce your blood pressure, but also your cholesterol and oxidative stress by eating more seaweed. You do have to limit your seaweed intake a bit, however, for the full benefit. Seaweed naturally has plenty of sodium in each serving, and an overdose can cause negative heart health. You’d have to eat a lot and have an unhealthy diet outside of seaweed, though, so just make sure to watch sodium levels.
Seaweed can be great for weight loss overall, starting with the fact that it’s so low in calories. Since two ounces of seaweed are just 25 calories, you can end up eating quite a bit without doing any damage to your weight loss plan. Outside of the calorie count, seaweed has other great effects on your weight.
Studies have started to show that seaweed can help your body reduce fat cells by oxidizing fat. That will help your body lose weight faster with the same calorie count than you would have had with a normal diet otherwise on the same amount of calories. For these reasons, we have seen a rise of seaweed being found in supplements that are said to promote weight loss.
Most of us know how important the liver is for our body, but still tend to treat it a little more roughly than we should. Eating more seaweed can help your liver by repairing or preventing damage by acting as an antioxidant. Outside of the liver, your entire digestive system gets a large boost from eating seaweed. The enzymes within seaweed help your body metabolise fats, having a huge benefit for the liver.
Seaweed can also prevent some digestive problems by acting as a natural laxative. Many people deal with constipation on a near daily basis, which is another reason why seaweed is in supplements more often these days. Studies have shown you can get these benefits just from adding seaweed to other foods.
If you have diabetes or are simply looking to control your blood sugar, it can be hard to find many beneficial foods. Seaweed is certainly among them, though, as they have different anti-diabetic properties. Among them is the high amount of polyphenols, which have been shown to control your blood sugar and also help your liver in return.
Seaweed also contains fucoxanthin and alginic acid, which researchers are hyping up as a great way to control blood sugar. One major study showed that eating seaweed supplements three times a day for an entire month led to higher fiber content and lower fasting blood glucose levels. Another positive result of the study showed that patients were experiencing lower triglyceride levels.
Diabetes isn’t the only disease that you can prevent from eating more seaweed. Seaweed has been shown to have the ability to kill viruses, which includes the influenza strain. Even major illnesses such as cancer can be reduced from introducing seaweed. Early studies show that the properties of seaweed lower your chances of colon cancer, breast cancer and more.
There aren’t really many diseases that you can think of that don’t have a lower chance of developing when eating more seaweed. Whether you are looking to prevent a cold or flu or even trying to recover from radiation poisoning, seaweed can help. Not many foods can make those claims.
Summing it Up
Knowing what we now know about seaweed, is there anything negative that can happen from eating a lot of it? One thing you have to watch out for is the sodium content, as you are getting more than 10 percent of your daily value in each serving of seaweed. That, along with the high iodine content can potentially cause some intestinal discomfort. This is especially true if you are not used to eating seaweed, but most problems should be very minor and very temporary.
There is also the possibility that eating seaweed can interfere with certain types of medication, especially blood thinners. That’s because seaweed has a high vitamin K content, so just make sure you are mindful of what you’re putting into your body. Outside of that, seaweed is going to be very helpful for your overall health. Adding more to your diet should see that you get those benefits that will make you feel fantastic.