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The 5 Healthiest Sea Vegetables

By on November 13, 2016
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For most Canadians, seaweed isn’t something that shows up on their plate apart from the odd sushi take out night or beach picnic gone awry! But as many Asian cultures have known for centuries, sea vegetables are actually a rich source of important vitamins and minerals that can do amazing things for our health. 

Grown in the depths of the sea, these nutritional powerhouses are full of vitamins and minerals essential to human health and nutritional balance – including all 56 trace minerals needed for our bodies to function. 

In fact, minerals make up seven to thirty-eight percent of the dry weight of these superfoods, the most significant minerals being calcium, iodine, phosphorous, sodium and iron. Plus, they are also rich in other nutrients like protein and vitamins A, B, C and E. And they actually contain these in amounts 10-20 times higher than land vegetables – a number that may continue to increase as the mineral content of soil decreases (meaning the mineral content of the vegetables grown in it does as well) due to modern farming techniques and environmental changes.

Because of their amazing nutrient content, sea vegetables can help with a variety of health problems, including reducing blood cholesterol, removing toxic heavy metals from the body, and preventing obesity. Seaweed also has antibiotic properties, may counteract hormone imbalance, could improve digestion and nerve transmission, and strengthens bones and teeth. And as if that wasn’t enough – they can also be an MVP in our beauty routines, offering skin-improving and anti-aging properties through their high anti-oxidant content.

So how do you get these incredible marine gems into your diet? Luckily incorporating them into your daily meal plan is easier than you think! Read on to find out the top 5 seaweeds (and their incredible benefits) that you can likely find at your local health food store.

Used in sushi, this is likely the most well-known variety of seaweed. Even though it's usually dark green or black in colour, Nori is the Japanese term for various edible seaweed species of red algae. A great way to enjoy it (apart from your favourite California roll) is to eat it toasted as crackers or chips as a snack; or by using it as a wrap for a range of delicious fillings like quinoa salad or veggies and hummus.hjiki

This variety is one of the highest vegetarian sources of an omega-3 fatty acid, the vital EFA responsible for fighting inflammation and ensuring your body can absorb all those crucial fat soluble vitamins – including vitamin A and E which are essential for glowing, ageless skin! On top of that, researchers in Japan found a compound in wakame that appears to show promise in the fight against obesity. So how do you enjoy it? Wakame is great in soups and salads.

Kombu has the highest iodine content among seaweeds consumed in Japan. Iodine is an essential nutrient vital to hormone production and normal thyroid function – the gland responsible for regulating all metabolic functions in the body and thus managing energy levels and weight-loss. The recommended dietary allowance for adults is approximately 150 micrograms daily, and studies show that kombu varieties of seaweed contain an average of 1,542 micrograms per gram serving. You can add strips of kombu to flavour any soup, or even use it to infuse batches of grains with minerals and flavour by adding strips of kombu to the cooking water and simmering for 30 minutes to release all the minerals.

There is a wealth of minerals found in dulse, including calcium, magnesium, and iron, all of which contribute to bone mineral density, making it a powerhouse for premenopausal women. Dulse can also help protect joints and tissues, helping to keep you stronger as you age. Plus, it’s super easy to enjoy and can be eaten right out of the package as a quick snack that's packed with protein and iron. You can also purchase packages of dulse flakes to sprinkle on salads and grain dishes.

Known as the natural beauty aid seaweed, Japanese folklore attributes Japanese women’s lustrous, thick, dark hair to regular consumption of hijiki! It can also help with beauty sleep due to its high magnesium content, which stimulates the production of certain hormones that induce relaxation and stress release, naturally lending itself to restful sleep. Unfortunately it does require more effort to prepare and consume as hijiki must be soaked and chopped before you cook it. Be sure to simmer it for at least 45 minutes to an hour until it's really tender before enjoying it in your favourite dish.

There are an ocean’s worth of reasons why you should enjoy sea vegetables regularly. It may take a little practice working them into your meals, but with the right accompaniments, seaweed can be a flavourful component of any dish. 

Adele Cavaliere is a Holistic Nutritionist, published author of the book “21 Days to Detoxify Your Life,” is an elite fitness trainer, yoga instructor and founder of Nutri-School. Adele has worked with celebrities, pro-athletes. www.adelecavaliere.com

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Try these recipes: One-Bowl Sushi and Sea Vegetable Salad with Sesame Dressing

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