Are you looking for a delicious yet healthy type of food that will bring you many health benefits? Well, seaweeds are one of the healthiest foods and will satisfy your needs. Although their health benefits may be considered a great surprise to people who are not familiar with these types of food. Still there… are lots of people who are really interested to know more about seaweeds and wonder what amazing health benefits they provide us.
I love seaweeds not only because they are easy to make different dishes, but also they satisfy my appetite without loading more calories into my body.
The Origin of Seaweeds
Seaweeds belong to algae groups. They absorb water and nutrients directly from the surrounding water into all their tissues. Seaweeds are found in salt water and live along ocean coastlines
Seaweeds anchor themselves at the bottom of the ocean. They are of three different colors mainly the red, green and the brown. They are also subdivided into two categories which are the kelp and the wracks seaweeds. They prefer the sunlit areas in the ocean at about 25 to 130 feet deep but can live at almost 820 feet deep. They are commonly found in rocky bottoms of the tidal as well as sub-tidal zones of the oceans with clear water.
When it comes to their reproduction, they are reproducing similar to some bacteria found in the ocean without undergoing fertilization. But there are other seaweeds that are releasing fertilized spores in the water which eventually spread and grow seaweeds again.
Seaweed farming began in Japan as early as 1670 and has been popular in Japan, China and Korea. There are different types of seaweeds; here are a few popular ones:
Kelp or kombu:
These seaweeds have dark brown color and have long and thick strips. They commonly grow in deep and cold waters such as northern region of Arctic sea. They can be prepared as a salad, or a side dish with other vegetables such as shiitake mushrooms or soups.
When cooking beans, kelp makes them more digestible to reduce gas. You can buy fresh, dried or pickled form in some grocery stores.
These types of seaweeds are probably the most familiar seaweed in Western cuisine. Laver is commonly eaten seaweed similar to nori in North America. The original seaweeds are typically purplish-black, but when toasted, they add a little dark green color. They are commonly used to make sushi rolls as thin dark sheets. You can make your own sushi at home with untoasted nori sheets for a better result.
When purchasing nori sheets or Òakes, it is a good idea to check the ingredients to make sure that all the ingredients are natural. Roasted nori Òakes can be mixed with other ingredients such as sesame seeds, some fresh herbs and leafy vegetables to make a delicious and nutritious salad. They are also commonly used in making soups in Chinese and Japanese cuisines.
Wakame is another most widely consumed seaweed.It is a tender, thin and dark green seaweed, its texture is similar to cooked spinach. Wakame is available both in fresh or dehydrated form. It tastes best when hydrated in water for a few minutes before being used. It is commonly used in miso soups and seaweed salads.
Many essential elements in terms of human health are present in seaweeds. Based on the chart below, seaweeds are a good source of magnesium, iodine, folate, iron, Vitamin B groups and calcium.
Seaweeds are rich in folic acid and magnesium, which helps reduce homocystein levels and help prevent heart disease. Homocystein is an amino acid that is found in the blood. Researchers suggest that a high level of homocystein is related to the development of heart disease. In addition,adequate levels of folic acid in the diet are important to prevent birth defects.
Detoxification and purification
Seaweeds are rich in chlorophyll, a green pigment, which is a potent detoxifier that dumps out wastes. A study from McGill University in Canada indicated that seaweedshelp remove radiation by-products, heavy metals and other environmental toxins from the body. They offer a broad range of detoxification. But make sure that the seaweeds you use are from a reputable resource.
Hormone balances and cancer prevention
Seaweeds are rich in lignans, which are phytoestrogens that are similar to estrogen. They mimic the functions performed by estrogen and reduce estrogen’s effects by displacing it from cells. Lignans also inhibit estrogen synthesis in fat cells. In postmenopausal women, fat tissue is a primary site for the synthesis of estrogen, and high levels of certain estrogen metabolites are associated with breast cancer.
In addition, lignans also behave like Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulators that may slow the growth of cancer cells and reduce inffammation, which may help prevent breast cancer, cervical cancer and other cancers. Lignans are present in many plant foods including flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, whole grains, wheat brans, beans, fruits and vegetables, etc.
Seaweeds are low in calories and fat, which makes them a healthy snack for weight loss. Seaweeds are a good source of fiber that helps reduce hunger and prolong fullness, therefore promote weight loss. They also have high concentration of iodine, which as a component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). The thyroid gland needs iodine to synthesize these hormones. Iodine helps stimulate the thyroid gland and
maintain a healthy metabolism. In addition, kelp or kombu contains the pigment called fucoxanthin, which may help metabolize your body fat for energy. Fiber also helps reduce your blood cholesterol and benefits your heart function.
These are just some of the important health benefits that seaweeds can provide you and help keep your body at its healthiest state.
How to enjoy seaweed in many ways?
- Make a quick low calorie healthy salad lunch wrap with nori sheets instead of bread. You can fill your wrap with leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken or fish, avocado, etc.
- Enjoy seaweed chips instead of potatoes chips as a healthy snack to reduce your food cravings for sweets and fatty foods.Seaweed can be dehydrated or baked to make crispy chips that has less calories and lots of fiber.
- Add seaweed and spirulina powder into your smoothies to make a healthy energy drink that keeps you full longer. You can also add maca and cocoa powder to super charge its anti-aging powder.
- Make a health seaweed salad by mixing different types of seaweeds with cucumbers, lettuce and onions, etc. Add some ginger, sesame seeds and homemade dressing to make it more delicious.
- Add chopped seaweeds into your soups to enhance the color and texture.
- Add seaweed fakes into your omelet and sauté with shiitake mushrooms and onions to make a delicious and nutrients-dense choice for breakfast.
Healthy and delicious seaweed recipes
- Wakame dry seaweed (cut): 1/4 cup.
- Green onions (thinly sliced): ¼ cup.
- Cilantro (fresh, chopped): 2 tbsps.
- Sesame seeds (roasted): 1 tbsp.
- Sesame oil: 1tbsp.
- Rice vinegar: 2 tbsps.
- Soy sauce: 2 tbsps.
- Ginger (finely chopped): 1 tsp.
- Garlic (fifinely chopped): ½ tsp.
- Coconut sugar: 1 tsp.
- Red pepper flakes (dry): pinch
1. Soak seaweed in cold water in a large bowl and cover for 5 to 10 minutes until it is tender.
Drain, rinse and squeeze out excess water.
2. In a large bowl, stir together vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, coconut sugar, pepper Òakes,
ginger, and garlic until sugar is dissolved. Add seaweed, scallions and cilantro and toss well.
3. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of the salad before serving
- Nori sheet (untoasted): 7
- Coconut oil: 1 tbsp.
- Sea salt: ¼ tsp.
- Oil spray
- Spices of your choice such as dry onion powder, garlic powder, sesame seeds, etc.
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Cut through all nori sheets into whatever shapes that will fit your container.
- Spray a baking sheet lightly with oil. Place nori sheet on the baking sheet in a single layer.
- Lightly brush the nori with coconut oil using a pastry brush or a finger.
- Sprinkle the nori sheet with sea salt and any seasoning that you like to try. It should stick to the oil.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until nori chips become dry and crispy, flip once.
- Let it cool and enjoy your seaweed snacks!
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