Unwrapping the Benefits of Seaweed

By Kendra Miller

Seaweed, the collective term for numerous species of marine plants and algae, has long been a staple of East Asian diets. Numerous studies, including a 2011 review in Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, have been published citing the high vitamin and mineral content of this marine plant. On top of that, a piece in the academic journal Nutrition Review found that seaweed also contains a diverse, unique population of organic compounds not found in land- based foods that can have antiviral and anticancer impacts as well as positive impacts on gut health, diabetes and obesity risk factors.

So how can you add this aquatic superfood to your diet?

Here’s a couple of suggestions for incorporating seaweed from Healthline:

Unsure about taking the plunge into seaweed? Start by incorporating small amounts into soups, stews, baked goods, and other warm dishes, particularly if you’re not accustomed to the flavor. This is a great way to give these dishes a subtle flavor boost while also getting in your seaweed.

Check the health food section of your local grocery store for seaweed snacks. Packaged perfectly for a between-meal snack or a companion to a lunchtime soup or sandwich, these dried crisps are an easy way to incorporate seaweed into your diet.

Use nori – the traditional Japanese name for the dried sheets of seaweed used in making types of sushi rolls – as a substitute for tortillas or bread. Not only will this be a low-carb option, but it will give your sandwich or wrap a nice, savory flavor boost.

Flavor beans using kombu (dried red seaweed). Not only will this decrease the amount of salt needed, but an article published by the Cleveland Clinic suggests that enzymes in the kombu may aid in counteracting any unpleasant gas or bloating from the beans.

Continuing on the flavoring theme, you can use crumbled seaweed as a topping for rice or quinoa. The flavor imparted by the seaweed will help you use less salt or soy sauce.

Packed with vitamins and minerals such as iron, iodine and calcium, seaweed boasts health benefits that range
from reducing diabetes risk to cancer prevention to even prevention and treatment of some neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, as a 2021 Marine Drugs study found. Adding this versatile superfood to your diet can up your flavor game and help to improve your health at the same time.

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