Why is seaweed is the latest health and beauty buzzword?

[Global] Humble seaweed, that gross stuff you screamed at every time the tide washed a bit near you when you paddled away at the beach as a nipper, yes, that’s the very thing that those in the know are raving about when it comes to health and beauty. Even Ellie Goulding took to Instagram recently to show off her seaweed bath!

The Japanese have been on to it for ages–our sushi-snacking friends know that it’s an incredibly powerful source of iodine–just a few grams is enough to fulfil your body’s daily requirements. Iodine is essential for healthy thyroid function, and as our bodies don’t make iodine, we need to make sure we get it in our diets.

MARINE BIOLOGY

Did we evolve from creatures that lived in the sea millions of years ago? Who can really say, but it’s surely more than coincidence that sea water and our blood plasma are virtually the same. In fact, during World War II rumour has it that Navy doctors used seawater when blood serum supplies ran out. Seawater also contains virtually every mineral, it even includes traces of gold. And seaweed, living in clean seawater is abundantly mineral rich.

GOING COASTAL

You might remember some of the types from those school nature walks. There are brown, green and red seaweeds along the Irish coastline, with dulse, carrageen moss and kelp some of the most familiar names. Carrageen moss has been used for generations as a superfood (before superfoods were a thing), with its antibacterial and antiviral properties, it’s great for respiratory tract problems, taken made into a warm drink with honey and lemon. It was traditionally used to set a dessert called blancmange due to the high natural gelatine content.

FORAGE FOR IT

Experienced seaweed forager Maria Kennedy, of  Atlantic Sea Kayaking at Reen Peer in West Cork, warns would-be foragers that only seaweed from the Atlantic coast is recommended for human consumption (due to the proximity to the East coast of the nuclear power plant at Sellafield in the UK). Atlantic Sea Kayaking also only forage seaweed from kayaks, off the coast, not from the beaches, as run off from farmland may contain pesticides and chemical nasties which would make beach finds unsuitable too. Seaweed farmers (for such a profession exists) grow their seaweed in drills on lengths of rope or chain far out in open and unpolluted waters. In Ireland a licence is required to harvest seaweed and removing beach materials is an offence.

HOME COOKING

The ultimate seaweed cookbook is Prannie Rhatigan’s seminal tome, Irish Seaweed Kitchen, which contains recipes for everything from seaweed pâté and hummus to seaweed smoothies, as well as a guide to identify the various seaweed species.

SKIN CARE

To continue your seaweed story at home, look no further than Irish skincare brand Seavite–founded by marine scientist Patrick Mulrooney to cure his daughters’ severe eczema. Those perfect-skinned daughters are clinical dermatologists Katherine and Jane Mulrooney, carrying on the legacy of the brand, and reformulating the range with the latest in skincare technology. With everything from shampoo to shower gel in the range, Karen Koster, who nominated it as her favourite Irish brand in the XPOSÉ Irish Beauty Bible Beauty Awards, said, “Seavite is one of the only brands that I feel comfortable enough to use on both myself and my baby as it’s all natural and doesn’t strip our skin.” Try the Seavite Super Nutrient Anti-Ageing Serum, €57.50, a favourite of XPOSÉ Beauty Panel testers, or the Moisturising Replenishing Creme, €33.50, a great treat for dry or sensitive skin.

 

 

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