Sea Crisps and seaweed image

Here’s ten great reasons to eat seaweed!

1. Seaweed promotes healthy thyroid function especially in standard Western diets that are typically low in iodine (RIRDC 2008).

2. Seaweed is little recognised as a high protein alternative to meat, with an amino acid profile similar to legumes! (Teagasc 2011)

3. Vitamins and Antioxidants – Marine plants contain relatively high levels of Vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E and K. Vitamin A offers antioxidant benefits, largely due to its associated origin with betacarotene,
which many studies have shown is associated with a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as cancer. Nori has been found to be especially rich in the B complex of vitamins including B6 & B12. (NHMRC 2005; RIRDC 2008)

4. Seawater is rich in minerals and as such, ocean veggies are packed full of them.
They can contain in varying concentrations: Sodium, Potassium, Chlorine, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese, Zinc, Copper, Cobalt, Sulphur, Vanadium, Iodine, Flourine, Niacin, Folate, Thiamin, Riboflavin and Calcium (RIDDC, 2008). Sodium, Potassium and Calcium are the most abundant and are critical for human health and healthy metabolism. It is interesting to note that sea vegetables contains more calcium, magnesium and zinc than terrestrial veggies (with up to 10 times more calcium and magnesium!). (RIRDC 2008)

5. Boosts energy – due to its high iron and Vitamin B content!

6. Promotes heart ❤ health – Seaweeds are known to contain a number of heart-health compounds including ACE inhibitors and antioxidants. They are also a known source of essential fatty acids, which assist in reducing blood cholesterol levels and as such reduce risks of thrombosis (blood clots) and atheroscleosis (hardening of the arteries). Everyone knows that fish oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but what is less well know is that fish obtain their DHA from seaweed! (Teagasc 2011; RIRDC 2008)

7. Rich in dietary fibre – dietary fibre cleans the digestive system, protects it from potential carcinogens and absorbs various substances such as cholesterol for elimination. Increasing dietary fibre has been linked to reduction in rates of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, cholesterol and certain cancers. While terrestrial plants such as apples contain approx. 12% soluble fibre, brown seaweeds like wakame contain up to 45% soluble fibre! (NHMRC 2005; RIRDC 2008)

8. Seaweeds can be more sustainable than terrestrial plants. They: require no fresh water; do not compete for land used for other crops or natural habitat; in Australia, seaweed harvest is regulated to ensure sustainable practices; and eating seaweed can truly support local industry since it grows literally all around us. (Seaweed Health Foundation 2012)

9. Seaweed grows at a phenomenal rate and is considered one of the fastest growing plants on earth (Rose 2012). They are also the most ancient plants on Earth, and so can fill you with nostalgia with every bite.

10. Its delicious!!! – Seaweed is a totally versatile ingredient and can be used in an enormous range of dishes, from soups and salads, to main dishes, desserts and seasonings. Your imagination is your only limitation… If youʼre stuck on how to use it, google it. You will be astounded with the number of results!

References:

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2005) Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand including recommended dietary intakes. Department of Health and Ageing, Australian Government (www.nhmrc.gov.au).
Rose, Dr Craig (Director Seaweed Health Foundation) (2012). Future Foods: What will be eaten in 20 years time. Available online: www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18813075

RIRDC (2008). Seaweed: Potential as a marine vegetable and other opportunities. Canprint, ACT: Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation. Seaweed Health Foundation (2012). Available online: www.seaweedhealthfoundation.org.uk
Teagasc (2012, October 12). Seaweed: An alternative protein source. ScienceDaily.