8 Amazing Benefits of Eating Seaweed

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Benefits of eating seaweeds
JIANG HONGYAN on Shutterstock

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students.

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Food is that thing which everyone loves and enjoys. But what to eat or not is very important because this will ultimately be good for a healthy body and mind. A healthy diet is not only good for our physical health but also mental health. Both are equally important. Therefore you must eat nutritious and healthy food. Nutritious food has so many benefits it also provides energy for the growth and proper functioning of the body.

Do you how beneficial seaweed is for health? If not then this article is going to be more informational and beneficial for you. This article is all about the 8 amazing benefits of eating seaweed.

For those who do not know about seaweed that what is it and how it can be good for health benefits. So before going to dive into the list of health benefits of eating seaweed, first know about what is it?

Sushi rolls
Image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer on Flickr (original photo and the license)

What is Seaweed?

Seaweeds are marine algae or plants that grow in the sea. Seaweed belongs to a different category of algae-like red algae, brown algae, or green algae. They occur in groups at the bottom of the sea or river. Some of them also grow near seashores and in shallow water bodies. The variation in the growing location of seaweed will result in the difference in types of seaweeds.

Seaweeds plays important role in the marine ecosystem because most marine species like fish, snails, etc depend on them for nutritional benefits. As they vary in size, large seaweeds form dense forests at the bottom of the sea which is known as Kelp Forest.

seaweed salad
Image by Marco Verch Professional Photographer on Flickr (original photo and the license)

Types of Edible seaweeds

We always add plant products to our everyday diet routine like in form of vegetables and fruits. Did you imagine that marine plants are also a good source of nutrients and can be used as edible in diet? If you are not aware that there are a variety of seaweeds out there that we can use as food sources, then here you will get to know. They are healthy and low-calorie-containing food sources mainly used in Korean, Chinese, and Japanese cuisine.

Now many other coastline countries use seaweed as an ingredient in their many dishes because of its nutritional value. There is a variety of dried seaweed snacks are available to try. Edible seaweed contains amino acids that give it a salty and savory taste.

Seaweed is also a good source of minerals and antioxidants. Due to this reason, various types of seaweeds are used in cooking. Let’s see the nine most popular types of edible seaweeds.

Wakame Salad
Image by Loozrboy on Flickr @Some Rights Reserved

Wakame

This species of seaweed is mainly found in kelp forests. Wakame is a green-colored sea vegetable slightly sweet in taste and smooth in texture. They are used in Japanese cuisines mainly including miso soup. Wakame is also known as sea mustard has a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Mozuku

Mozuku is another type of edible seaweed which is used in most Japanese salads and soups with vinegar.

Kombu

Kombu is largely produced in Japan’s largest island, Hokkaido. This type of seaweed is most popular in East Asian cuisine. It is the main ingredient of Kombucha, a Japanese tea. It has so many nutrients like proteins, sodium, potassium, calcium, iodine, vitamin A, C, E & K.

Nori

It is that seaweed that is used to wrap sushi rolls, one of the popular dishes of Korea and Japan. When it is dried it turns green from purplish-red color. Once it is dried, it is used to make nori sheets. Nori sheets are used to wrap sushi balls and rice balls. Due to its purplish color, it is also known as purple laver.

Aonori

Aonori is a powdered form of nori seaweed used as a condiment for flavoring dishes like Yakisoba.

Hijiki

It is usually used as a side dish and in dried form with soy sauce or mirin. It is a brown-colored sea vegetable served with fish.

Dulse

Dulse is harvested in the northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This seaweed is first harvested in Scotland. It is used in various snacks in Canada. It is the best source of vitamin B12, B6, and dietary fibers.

Irish moss

Irish moss is found around the Atlantic shorelines of the U.S. and Europe. It is mainly used in desserts and ice creams

Sea lettuce

It is also known as green nori. It mainly belongs to the genus Ulva.

Due to different varieties of sea vegetables or seaweed, people consume them in various ways to get health benefits.

8 Amazing Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed:

Seaweed salad
Image by Michael Ocampo on Flickr @Some Rights Reserved

Well, the use of seaweed flakes in Korean and Japanese cuisine is quite common. It can be consumed in a cooked state as well as in a raw state. For coastline countries, it is an important food source as it contains minerals, vitamins, thiamin, iron, riboflavin, etc. Let’s see some amazing health benefits of eating seaweed.

1. Good For Heart Health

The heart is the pumping organ that transfers blood throughout the body and along with that transport of oxygen also takes place. So, the proper function of our body depends on a healthy heart.

These days the risk of heart disease is very high and the reasons are:

  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood pressure
  • Excessive blood clotting, etc.

In all such conditions, seaweed is a great option to reduce the risk of heart disease. If you want a healthy heart then eat seaweed. This is one of the important benefits of eating seaweed.

2. Good For Thyroid Function

Thyroid health is very essential for the proper functioning of the body. The Thyroxin hormone secreted by the thyroid gland is responsible for growth, cell functioning, and metabolic activity. All this happens when the required amount of iodine is present in the body.

If by any chance the iodine deficiency occurs in the body it will directly affect the functioning of the thyroid gland. As iodine deficiency will result in a decrease in the thyroxine hormone.

Sometimes too much iodine is also a point of concern. An excess amount of iodine will cause hyperthyroidism or goiter. Hence, a normal level of iodine, which is 15-20 mg is best for a healthy body. And this level is maintained by consuming seaweeds.

Seaweed is a good source of iodine as they are grown in marine and saltwater habitats from that it absorbs enough amount of salt.

Besides the iodine, seaweed also contains an amino acid called tyrosine, that also important for thyroid health and hormone balance.

3. Helpful In Weight Loss

Seaweed contains fibers that make your stomach full and you don’t feel hungry at all. As it does not have calories so you don’t get fat after consuming seaweed. For weight loss, calorie-free or deficit food is a must. And seaweed is a good choice for all those who want to reduce calories and maintain their body.

Fiber-rich food reduces the appetite, and your belly feels full. This is because fibers turn into a gel-like structure when it is in water. That gel form does not easily digest and settle down in your gut. This will increase the digestion and absorption process. Well, this happens only in the case of high viscous fibers because low viscous fiber has no impact on the digestion process.

Many studies have shown that seaweeds have anti-obesity effects because of fucoxanthin. Fucoxanthin is a carotenoid substance that has many important roles including reducing obesity, increasing metabolic activities, and preventing cardiovascular diseases. There is around 0.3-3.7 mg fucoxanthin is present per gram of dried seaweed.

4. Promotes Gut Health

Did you know that all bacteria are not harmful? Some of them are good for our health and internal organs. Even some of them are used in a variety of food products. The human intestine contains bacteria that are good for the intestine’s health and are known as good gut bacteria. They protect the large intestine from any infections.

Seaweeds promote gut health by providing food to good gut bacteria. But how can seaweeds help in it? The reason is that they contain sulfated polysaccharides which are responsible for the growth of gut bacteria.

Sulfated polysaccharides are not only good for gut bacteria but also for the gut cells. It provides them with nourishment and support. In this way, seaweed is essential for a good healthy gut.

5. Beneficial For Cancer Prevention

Cancer is the uncontrolled growth of cells. It starts from a particular part of the body then spreads to the whole body and damages other cells. Many research and studies have been done on the preventive ways of cancer. And it is found that there is some natural compound that can prevent the growth of cancerous cells.

For example, lycopene, genistein, brassinin, indole-3-carbinol, and sulforaphane are some of the natural compounds present in fruits and vegetables.

From research, it is shown that seaweeds also play a key role in the prevention of cancer. It has fucoidans which help in cancer prevention. This is the only reason to consider seaweed as a good source for cancer treatment. The other reason is it also has beta carotene, which is another compound having cancer-preventing qualities. Due to all these reasons, cancer patients are using seaweeds in their diet.

6. Rich Source of Minerals and Vitamins

Well, there is no doubt that seaweed is a full pack of nutrients. It has a variety of nutrients and minerals that are essential for good health. It also contains polyunsaturated fatty acids, fibers, carbohydrates, protein, etc. Despite these, it also has iron, iodine, and vitamin K, B, C, & E. You can get these benefits of eating seaweed only just by adding or sprinkling it on your food dishes.

It not only adds nutrients to your diet but also enhances the taste and texture of your food. Salads and smoothies are the best options in which you can easily add seaweed and increase the nutrients.

Spirulina and chlorella are the best examples of seaweed that is rich in protein content. It is observed that dried seaweed contains a good amount of vitamin B12 which is good for our blood and nerve cells’ health.

7. Maintains Blood Sugar Level

For diabetic patients, seaweed flakes or powder is good to add to their food. As seaweed is rich in fiber and fiber helps in the regulation of blood sugar and insulin level.

Hence, eating roasted seaweed will be good to improve blood sugar control. This is also proven that seaweed is good for type 2 diabetes, from a study done in 2018. That shows seaweed can stabilize blood sugar levels and even the risk of diabetes. This is the second last benefit of the list of amazing benefits of eating seaweed.

8. Protect Body Cells From Damage

This is one of the last benefits of eating seaweed that is protecting cells from free radicals. Antioxidants are very important because they protect body cells from free radicals. Seaweeds are a good source of antioxidants including vitamin C and E and carotenoids. That’s why health should consume seaweed. If the excess of free radicals accumulates in the body, they will affect body functioning and cause various serious problems. Antioxidants are helpful for the neutralization of free radicals so, that they do not damage our cells.

So, these are the health benefits of eating seaweed that you will gain only after adding seaweed to your diet routine.

Are There Any Side Effects of Seaweed?

Besides the benefits of eating seaweed, there are some side effects of eating seaweed. Well, there is no severe side effect of eating seaweed but you have to consume it not on daily basis. As it is rich in iodine, this will may cause problems for the person who is sensitive to iodine. In those people, this may lead to some allergies. Hence, always make sure that you consume a sufficient amount of sea vegetables as per your body’s requirement.

A study shows that seaweeds also contain some amount of heavy metals that are not good for health. The quality of seaweed defines the number of heavy metals it contains. Good quality seaweed does not contain a high amount of seaweed. That’s why always try to consume only organic and good quality seaweeds so that there is minimum risk of accumulation of toxic heavy metals.

I hope you will get an idea about seaweed and the benefits of eating seaweed. Now, what are you waiting for? Try out some of the Asian cuisines that contain seaweed but make sure that you don’t have any allergy to it. You can also take your doctor’s consult.

Did you try Korean Sushi rolls or not? If you are planning to visit Korea, Japan, or China then never forget to try Sushi rolls. Tell us in the comment section.

While at times contributed by guest authors, our content is medically reviewed periodically by professionals for accuracy and relevance. We pride ourselves on our high-quality content and strive towards offering expertise while being authoritative. Our reviewers include doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and even medical students. -----------------------------------

Any information found on the site does not constitute legal or medical advice. Should you face health issues, please visit your doctor to get yourself diagnosed. Icy Health offers expert opinions and advice for informational purposes only. This is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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