Splendid Sea Veggies

January 11, 2011

Have you ever tried sea vegetables? If not, maybe a few facts and tips from SupermarketGuru will inspire you

Aquatic plants or sea vegetables like kelp, seaweed and algae can be incredibly useful in a number of ways, especially in our diets to maintain good health. Sea vegetables are nutrient rich, and contain trace elements, enzymes, over 70 minerals and 21 amino acids- the building blocks for protein. The range of nutrients in sea veggies, specifically their high iodine content, make them an essential promoter of thyroid health and immune system strengthener. Our thyroid gland regulates metabolism, and if there is not enough iodine in the diet, the thyroid is forced to work harder, eventually enlarging- resulting in goiter. To prevent goiter, much of the salt and table salt we consume is fortified with iodine or “iodized.” Consuming sea vegetables is a wonderful way to obtain iodine naturally.

Sea vegetables are especially important for women of all ages as they are rich in iron, potassium, and calcium. On top of that, a study conducted at UC Berkeley found that adding kelp to a diet can help lower estradiol levels, a hormone that is linked to breast cancer. Moreover, sea vegetables contain alginic acid, a polysaccharide that protects them from bacteria and fungi. Researchers at McGill University, in Canada demonstrated that “alginic acid binds with heavy metals in the body, from all sources, renders them insoluble and causes them to be eliminated,” a wonderful way to help the body detoxify naturally.

There are a variety of seaweeds that can be purchased at your grocer or specialty grocer or Asian market; all possessing similar beneficial health promoting properties. Sushi, salads, soups and many other recipes use seaweed as a central ingredient. Seaweed can also be used as an alternative to salt, as it has a salty taste; although some seaweeds do need to be soaked and rinsed prior to using to eliminate some of the sea salt that has dried on the surface.

Some of the most popular sea vegetables include:

Wakame: a brown algae with long, delicate leaves. It is used as the green in Miso soup and is one of the most popular sea vegetables in Japan and the US.

Arame: a sea vegetable that resembles a branched and feathery plant. It has a delicate texture and mild flavor. It is the sweetest sea vegetable and may be the best to try if you have not yet tasted sea vegetables.

Nori: is best known in making sushi, nori rolls, and rice balls. It is a mildly sweet red or deep purple algae. There are over thirty species. Nori is commonly consumed toasted - after which it turns bright green.

Hijiki (Hiziki): is a dark brown, bushy plant that needs plenty of sunshine, clean water and years to mature. Hiziki’s long thick branches stand straight in the water, like hair floating upwards. When cooked it turns a deep, lustrous black and expands to four or five times its size. It has a stronger taste than many sea vegetables, but is deliciously sweet and extremely nourishing.

Information about the specific sea vegetables courtesy of Eden Foods

Please consult your physician before making any changes to your diet.