Seaweed has been a mainstay of the Japanese diet for centuries. Seaweed is a common ingredient in sushi but is also used in other dishes like salads, soups, and as a standalone snack.
“Seaweed is low in calories, crunchy, salty, and super nutritious,” explained Carolyn Brown, RD, a nutritionist at the Indigo Wellness Group in Connecticut. Furthermore, it is trendy because it is both plant-based and high in protein. Here is some information about the nutritional value of seaweed, its potential health benefits, and how to include it in your daily diet.
A Look at the Nutritional Value of Seaweed
Commonly referred to as “algae,” seaweed is an excellent resource for iodine and contains a wealth of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E. Nutritional information for one cup of dried seaweed (15 grammes) is provided by the Department of Agriculture.
- Energy expenditure: 44.7 kcal
- 4.77 grammes of protein
- 0.601 grammes of fat
- 7.86 g of carbohydrates
- In terms of fibre, 0.84 grammes
- 0.456 g of sugars
- The Daily Value (DV) for Vitamin A is 2.1 micrograms
- 0.75% of the Daily Value for Vitamin C
- Nutrient E: 0.75 milligrammes
However, the vitamin and mineral content of seaweed can differ slightly from one species of algae to another. Algae can be divided up into several categories, such as
- Kelp, wakame, kombu, and arame are all examples of brown algae.
- Dulse and nori are two types of red algae.
- Seaweed-like green algae
- Microalgae like spirulina and chlorella are blue-green algae.
- One hundred different types of seaweed fall under those categories of algae. Nori, kelp, wakame, and dulse are some of the most well-liked varieties of seaweed.
Nori is the seaweed most people are introduced to. It’s used in sushi and sold as “seaweed snacks” on sheets. Dashi, the Japanese stock used to make miso soup, is primarily made from kelp. Kelp noodles are another common dish in Korean cuisine. As a matter of fact, kelp powder is a great addition to smoothies.
Wakame, the wide, slippery seaweed commonly found in miso soup, is the star of most seaweed salads. Dried dulse is sold in a variety of forms, including whole, flaked, and powdered. When fried, dulse has been compared to the flavour of bacon by some.
Benefits to Your Health From Seaweed
Including vitamins A and E, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, iron, and iodine, “seaweed is a vitamin and mineral jackpot,” as stated by Brown. In addition to being high in protein and fibre, it is also a good source of omega-3s and polyphenols.
Some of the ways in which eating seaweed can improve your health are listed below.
Helps Maintain Thyroid Health
The thyroid gland in your neck produces and secretes thyroid hormone, which regulates your metabolism, as reported by the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library.
Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid, can be brought on by a deficiency of iodine. In addition to a goitre (a large growth on the neck and close to the thyroid gland), hypothyroidism can cause weight gain, fatigue, and other symptoms.
If your thyroid is underactive, eating more seaweed is a great way to get more iodine into your system. Some varieties of seaweed were found to be particularly high in iodine, according to a 2021 study published in the journal Food & Nutrition Research.
Keep this caution in mind as you check the iodine content of your seaweed: Thyroid function can be negatively impacted by either too little or too much iodine. Contains Antioxidants That Help Maintain Health and Fight Off Illnesses. Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E can be found in seaweed.
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According to the National Library of Medicine, antioxidants are compounds that mitigate free radical damage to cells. Substances called free radicals are a contributing factor in the development of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer.
Antioxidants do more than just make you look better; they also make it easier to ward off the germs that can make you sick.
Boosts Digestive Health
The digestive tract is home to a wide variety of probiotic bacteria that help with digestion and overall health. But when “bad” bacteria outnumber probiotics in the gut, gastrointestinal symptoms can arise.
According to the Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, fibre encourages a healthy digestive system by encouraging more regular bowel movements. The fibre content of seaweed is particularly high. Dried seaweed has a higher fibre content than wheat bran, according to a study published in the Journal of Applied Phycology in 2017. Seaweed is rich in sulfated polysaccharides, a type of sugar that can alter the composition of your gut microbiome and thus the abundance of probiotic bacteria.