5 Reasons You Should Be Eating Seaweed
By Janet Early
When people think of seaweed, they usually either picture that squishy stuff that wraps around your legs in the ocean or that tasty stuff that wraps around your sushi rolls.
What many people don’t realize – especially in westernized cultures – is that seaweed is an incredible source of nutrients and is able to decrease the risk of a variety of diseases.
As part of the algae family, seaweed has been a staple in the Japanese diet for more than 2000 years, has been traced back to 2700 BC in China and was used in medicine by ancient Greek and Roman cultures.
Seaweed comes in three types:
- Brown – kelp and wakame (often used in soups and stews)
- Red – nori (sushi, miso soup)
- Green – (miso soup)
Incredible Health Benefits Of Seaweed
#1. Strengthens The Thyroid
Seaweed is a plentiful source of a key nutrient that many other foods don’t contain: iodine.
Iodine is essential for the thyroid to produce adequate amounts of thyroid hormones that are needed for proper human growth, development and metabolism.
An estimated 40% of the world’s population is at risk for developing iodine deficiency.
Symptoms Of Iodine Deficiency:
- Underactive Thyroid/Hypothyroidism
- Weight gain
- Lowered immunity
- Depression or anxiety
- Muscle weakness or pain
- An enlarged thyroid gland
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Miscarriages or stillbirths
- Birth defects
Caution: Excess amounts of iodine have been linked to thyroid problems as well, namely hyperthyroidism. If you suffer from a thyroid-related condition, it is recommended that you speak with your practitioner before making any major changes to your diet.
#2. Regulates Estrogen Levels
During the past few decades, estrogen levels in people have risen so much that some clinicians refer to the phenomenon as an “epidemic.”
Increased estrogen levels in both women and men have been linked to chemicals called xenoestrogens, which imitate your natural estrogen hormones. Xenoestrogens exist in your food, water, packaging and hygienic products.
Increased estrogen levels is most widely associated with an increased risk of developing breast cancer. It is also related to abnormal menstruation, weight gain, decreased libido, memory loss, anxiety and depression.
Seaweed has been shown by research to regulate estrogen levels, therefore improving the development and function of sex organs, while possibly also lowering risk of breast cancer.
It’s worth pointing out that Japan and other Asian countries have some of the lowest rates of breast cancer in the world. Interestingly, when Japanese girls grow up eating a westernized diet, their chance of developing breast cancer increases.
#3. High In Antioxidants
Seaweed is a potent source of antioxidants. This means that including seaweed in your diet can help fight infections, illnesses and diseases.
The nutrient-dense oceanic food has been shown to fight inflammation, which is the root cause of numerous diseases. In fact, some practitioners include red seaweed supplements as part of a treatment plan for osteoarthritis.
#4. Promotes Body Detoxification
Seaweed is believed to alleviate the body of heavy toxins such as lead and cadmium. Plus, it’s said that seaweed increases urination, which is the body’s natural detoxifying process.
Furthermore, in Ireland and the Caribbean Islands, soups and drinks with seaweed in them are thought to flush out toxins after illness, reduce swelling and get rid of phlegm. Some people even swear by seaweed-based stews and drinks as hangover cures!
#5. Nutrient-Dense And Low In Calories
Seaweed is very low in calories, yet high in nutritional value. A package of roasted seaweed from your local health food store, for example, contains approximately 30-40 calories per serving, yet supplies you with a solid amount of protein and vitamins such as calcium, iodine, magnesium, folate and B vitamins.
Crunchy roasted seaweed bites are a fantastic alternative to potato chips and nori sheets in your stir-fry supply a tangy taste that will require less oil and seasoning.
As with everything, moderation in the case of seaweed is key. Try incorporating it into your diet two nights a week and check HERE for some tasty seaweed recipes to get you started!
Janet Early is a health enthusiast living in Los Angeles and working as a researcher for a major television company. An aspiring writer, Janet discovered her passion for wholesome nutrition and natural healing while navigating the struggles of balancing food sensitivities in a modern world. In addition to nutrition, she enjoys traveling, storytelling and embarking on daily adventures.
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