Health Benefits of Seaweeds
Seaweeds or sea vegetables are some of the most nutrient-rich foods. This is because they are constantly bathed in the mineral-rich waters of the sea. They contain high amounts of iodine, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and some are very high in protein. Seaweeds contain 10 to 20 times more minerals than land-grown plants do. Seaweeds are classified by colors: reds, browns, greens, blue-greens and yellow-greens. Because of variations in pigmentation, light exposure, water depth and temperature, and environment, the nutritive values vary.
Seaweeds offer many health benefits including increased metabolism, purification of the blood, help to break down fats, and improved joint flexibility. They also strengthen the kidneys and are beneficial for healthy hair and skin. Seaweeds are antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and alkalinizing. Seaweeds remove radiation residue from the body, cleanse the lymphatic system, alleviate liver stagnancy, are beneficial to the thyroid and rejuvenate the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. They lower cholesterol and reduce fat in the blood.
“According to ancient Chinese texts, “there is no swelling that is not relieved by seaweed.”” So, they can be used to treat swellings, lumps, goiter, swollen lymph glands, edema, chronic cough, skin diseases and tumors.
Proper thyroid functioning
Seaweeds are very high in iodine. We all require iodine in our diets to promote healthy thyroid functioning. The thyroid is responsible for the body’s metabolism. Inadequate dietary iodine can result in the symptoms of chronic hypothyroidism. According to Endocineweb.com, symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
- Weight gain or increased difficulty losing weight
- Coarse, dry hair
- Dry, rough pale skin
- Hair loss
- Cold intolerance (you can’t tolerate cold temperatures like those around you)
- Muscle cramps and frequent muscle aches
- Memory loss
- Abnormal menstrual cycles
- Decreased libido
Other Benefits of Seaweeds
Seaweeds contain alginic acid, a compound that binds in the body with heavy metals, environmental toxins and other chemicals within the digestive tract and carries them out of the body through elimination.
Types of Common Seaweeds
Agar is rich in calcium, iron and phosphorus. Typically it is used in powder form as a substitute for gelatin in vegan recipes.
Arame is rich in iodine, iron and calcium. It is beneficial to the spleen, stomach and pancreas. It is excellent for relieving high blood pressure.
Dulse contains high amounts of iodine and is rich in manganese, iron, beta-carotene and vitamin E. The heart and spleen benefit from ingesting dulse.
Hijiki contains high amounts of calcium, iron, and vitamins B1, B2, and C. It strengthens the intestines and enhances digestion and intake of nutrients.
Kelp is typically used more as a seasoning. Kelp powder or granules is an excellent source of a high-mineral replacement for salt and is relatively lower in sodium over regular salt. Kelp is very rich in iodine, calcium, potassium, and vitamin B2 and C. Brown kelp (Laminaria) has the highest concentration of iodine out of all all the plants. Kelp acts as an anti-coagulant, fungicide, antibacterial, antibiotic, antioxidant, anticarcinogenic, diuretic, emollient, nutritive and expectorant. It can be used to help treat enlarged lymph nodes or tumors. Kelp increases metabolism and can be used in weight loss. Kelp can be used to treat high blood pressure, arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes, heart pain, blood clots and anemia. It increases depth of breath and relieves coughing and asthma. Kelp is also effective in treating fungal and candida yeast overgrowths.
Kombu can grow up to 1,500 feet long. It is high in calcium, iron, potassium, sodium and glutamic acid. The kidneys and reproductive system benefits for kombu. Cooking beans with a strip of kombu makes them more digestible and reduces their production of digestive gas. Kombu has the same healing properties as kelp.
Nori is sold in thin sheets and is the seaweed that sushi is made from. Nori is very high in protein (up to 48% dry weight), beta-carotene and minerals. It stimulates circulation, decreases cholesterol, aids digestion and provides energy.
Wakame is high in calcium, protein, niacin and thiamine. It helps support the liver, nervous system and mental clarity.
Mountain Rose Herbs is a great supplier of organic seaweeds.