There are over 20 different types of known edible sea vegetables or seaweeds. Common types of seaweed include: Agar Agar, Arame, Dulse, Hijiki, Irish Moss/Sea Moss, Kombu/Kelp, Laver Nori/Sushi Nori, Sea Palm, Seabean, Spirulina and Wakame.
Anyone compiling a list of superfoods would be remiss in not including seaweeds. Sea vegetables should certainly be counted among the so-called superfoods. After researching the benefits of sea vegetables, I might even venture to say that sea vegetables are leading from the front, with other food groups trailing far behind.
Sea vegetables thrive off of all the nutrients in the ocean, making them the most nutritionally dense vegetation on earth. Seaweeds contain anywhere from ten to twenty times the minerals and vitamins of land vegetables and gram for gram are higher in vitamins and minerals than any other food group. Sea vegetables have ten times more calcium than milk, are eight times higher in iron than red meat, and contain greater amounts of protein than eggs. In addition, sea vegetables are an excellent source of fibers and are low in fats. Their chemical composition closely resembles that of human blood plasma and has been found to aid in regulating and purifying our blood.
Sea vegetables have been consumed for thousands of years in Asia. And, have a long-standing history in the Caribbean, British Isles and Canadian diet. Surprisingly, sea vegetables have only recently been introduced into the U.S. diet, and have yet to become mainstream.
Sea vegetables have a range of favors from salty, mild, sweet, and sweet and salty. They can be added to soups, beans, rice, vegetables and salads to enhance the favor and to fortify them with beneficial vitamins and minerals. Adding sea vegetables to beans can reduce the bloating and gas effects. Sea vegetables can also act as a great salt substitute. When sea vegetables are present in a dish, no additional salt is needed.
Some of them can be roasted and eaten raw as a crispy snack. Others are chewy and can be eaten raw like jerky or pan-fried to take on the consistency of bacon. Some of them make great garnishes, while others can stand alone as a seaweed salad. Probably, the most well known of the seaweeds in America is the Sushi Nori, which is used to make sushi rolls in the Japanese restaurants throughout the U.S. Or, Spirulina that is commonly used as an “add-in” to drinks at local smoothie shops.
Sea vegetables have been used for medicinal purposes to treat heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and thyroid problems. Plus, they have been used to lower cholesterol, shrink goiters, dissolve tumors and cysts, detoxify heavy metals, reduced water retention, aid in weight loss, rebuild a compromised immune system, help prevent cardiovascular disease, protect against birth defects, balance the body’s pH levels to a healthy alkaline state, improve the quality of sleep, restore mental clarity, heal depression, reduce the negative effects of stress, and maintain and restore eye health.
Proteins and Fiber
All sea vegetables contain significant amounts of protein. Some of them contain as much as 50% protein. They are also a great source of essential soluble and insoluble dietary fibers. Both types of dietary fibers are equally important to our health. Fibers aid in digestion and in preventing heart disease, diabetes, obesity, diverticulitis and constipation.
Seaweeds contain vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K. Plus, plus they contain vitamin B-12 (or something that resembles B-12). B-12 is a vitamin normally found only in animal products. Some experts question whether B-12 from sea vegetables can be used by the body, while others advocate that it is a reliable source of B-12 for vegans and vegetarian, who are sometimes challenged to find good sources of B-12.
The mineral content of sea vegetables is extraordinary, which is not surprising since they bask in all of the minerals of the sea. The high mineral content is believed to be at the root of most of their healing properties. The minerals found in sea vegetables are colloids and easily absorbed by the body. Sea vegetables are an extremely nutrient-rich source of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium iron, iodine/potassium iodide (KI) and chlorophyll.
Beans and grains contain phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks the absorption of minerals. Soaking beans and grains before cooking activates the seed embryo, which neutralizes the phytic acid. Adding seaweed to grain or beans in the cooking process can also help to neutralize the phytic acid. Plus the use of seaweeds makes more minerals available and therefore helps guarantee that more minerals will be absorbed.
Sea Vegetables are the Alturnative choice for “Seafood”!
To learn more about the nutritional value and healing properties of each common sea vegetables or seaweeds go to the Alturnative Fitness blog entitled, Glossary of Common Sea Vegetables.