Wakame, arame, nori, dulse, kelp and kombu are sea vegetables that grow wild and naturally, without the chemicals and pesticides of plants grown in nutrient depleted soil.
The most well known seaweed is nori, of sushi fame. Seaweed isn't appealing to everyone but it's health benefits are well documented; here are six reasons to start including some seaweed in your diet.
Avocado nori roll and fresh seaweed nori roll
1. Mega nutrient content One of the richest sources of vitamins C, E, K and the B group, seaweed is a powerhouse of essential nutrients. It also contains an abundance of minerals vital to health and wellbeing including calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, magnesium, zinc and potassium - in fact it is believed to contain up to thirty times more minerals than its counterparts grown on land. It's a fabulous source of antioxidants, fibre, omega 3 fatty acids, and protein, making it a particularly valuable food for vegans and vegetarians.
Wakame - one of the highest nutrient to calorie ratio of omega 3 essential fatty acids
2. Hormone regulator Seaweed is high in fibre which helps control oestrogen balance. It also contains lignans which become phytoestrogens in the body and act to block potential cancer causing chemical oestrogens, and iodine, a trace mineral essential to thyroid function, and therefore hormone function. As a hormone balancer, seaweed is a helpful aid to women with PMT or those going through menopause.
3. Weight loss Not only does seaweed contain zero fat and minimal calories, research has shown it can reduce fat absorption in the body by up to 75%. Also, nori contains taurine which helps control cholesterol, and animal experiments have shown arame to have an anti-obesity effect.
4. Heart health Seaweed has been shown to improve circulation, balance blood pressure, reduce the risk of stroke, and lower cholesterol - all heart healthy essentials.
5. Digestive Powerhouse A low GI food (releases energy slowly) seaweed can slow down digestion (making you feel full for longer), increase the good bacteria in the gut, and reduce bloating. The iodine content is essential to thyroid function which regulates metabolism and improves the efficiency of digestion.
The human digestive system - courtesy of dream design/www.freedigitalphotos.net
6. Detox Seaweed has the unique ability to soak up environmental chemical and toxins, most notably cadmium and lead. The high mineral content helps to flush toxins out of the body, as does the soluble fibre, making it a great aid in detoxification.
So head for sushi next time you're out for lunch, or buy some seaweed to sprinkle in your salads, soups or stirfrys. Power Super Foods have a great range of raw, organic packaged seaweeds which can be purchased online or at your local health food store.
Carrageenan is a food additive extracted from RED seaweed. It is a gelatinous substance used to thicken and emulsify and can be found in ice-cream, yoghurts, sweetened condensed milk, diet shakes, soy and almond milks, and deli meats - to name but a few. It's true that some animal studies have shown it to cause inflammation and gut irritation but that has no bearing on seaweed as a whole food. Foods are designed to be eaten in their whole natural state, or as close to as we can manage; things go wrong when we start breaking them down, adding artificial or synthetic elements and processing to the hilt.
When it comes to carrageenan on its own, although there is no 'credible' evidence that it is harmful, that proves nothing. There are far too many people and organisations working to have food-grade carrageenan banned, and many food producers removing it from their products, which indicates to me that it is indeed harmful. To be safe, check food labels and be on the lookout for 'carrageenan gum', 'vegetable gum (carrageenan)' or 'processed Euchema seaweed'.
One very good reason NOT to eat Seaweed is because of the Carageenan content
'Carrageenan is a suspected factor linking it to varieties of gastrointestinal disorders including inflammatory bowel syndrome, colorectal malignancy, intestinal ulcerations, tumors and growths.'