What if we told you that there’s a food out there with more calcium than broccoli, more protein than meat, more vitamin C than oranges, more potassium than bananas and more nutritional value than kale? And, that this nutrient-rich food also possesses antiviral, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties? Oh, and let’s not forget that it is a great source of fiber, it’s low in calories, gluten-free, dairy-free and cholesterol-free. And best of all, it can even taste like bacon!
Rest assured that this is not some rare, magical food bursting from the fountain of youth, but it is actually found in abundance in our oceans, often washing ashore after a storm or wrapping around our legs, carried by a strong current. If you haven’t guessed it yet, this superfood is seaweed, and it’s about time you added it to your diet, if you haven’t done so already.
There are many edible seaweed varieties out there, belonging to multicellular groups of red algae, green algae and brown algae, with each offering different nutritional value and healthful properties. One particular benefit of seaweed is its iodine content. Although we consume iodine from the salt we eat, we may find ourselves prone to iodine deficiency if we’re ordered to follow a low-sodium diet. This can lead to fatigue and depression, or in more extreme cases, a malfunctioning thyroid gland and goiters, which are swelling of the thyroid. Luckily, one gram of brown seaweed contains about 50 times the recommended daily intake of iodine. That’s just one 2-tablespoon serving of seaweed once a week.
Another benefit of seaweed is its ability to regulate hormones, like estrogen and estradiol, which gives it potential cancer-protecting properties. It contains plant substances called lignans, which block chemical estrogens that may lead to breast cancer. Researchers believe that Japanese women have lower rates of breast cancer due to the seaweed in their diets. Brown seaweed also lowers blood pressure and reduces stroke risk.
Consuming nutrient-rich algae has wonderful benefits for your digestion, too. High seaweed intake may increase the good bacteria in your gut. After eating it, you will feel fuller longer, because it slows down digestion and releases energy at a lower rate, which can help with weight loss. It is also found to strengthen gut mucus, and researchers believe that its proteins, polyphenols and polysaccharides can help fight obesity in addition to viruses. Meanwhile, aliginate, a fiber in seaweed, is said to have the ability to block fat absorption; researchers continue to study this phenomenon.
After reading about all of these impressive benefits, we know that you are more than ready to add this leafy sea green to every meal and reap the rewards. But of course, just like any other food, seaweed is best in moderation for your health and your taste buds. So as you get used to its unique taste, we recommend adding it to smoothies, soup or salad, or using it as an excuse to go get sushi for lunch.