Can seaweed really help you lose weight?

[UK] Jamie Oliver has revealed how he shed almost two stone after learning about “simple foods that are nutritious and delicious”.
As well as switching to cutting out white, unprocessed foods and eating more vegetables, he has also added seaweed to his diet.
But can this coastal plant really help you shed those pesky post-summer holiday pounds?

Last year, research from Newcastle University suggested that seaweed could be a key ingredient to losing weight as a compound found in it stops the body from absorbing fat.

Research suggests seaweed could help you lose weight  Photo: Andrew Crowley
Research suggests seaweed could help you lose weight Photo: Andrew Crowley

Research found that alginate, which is found in sea kelp, can help to suppress the digestion of fat in the gut. The researchers believe that if the alginates can block the fat digesting enzyme, the body will absorb less fat and stop people from becoming obese.

However, the NHS warned that the research did not “draw any definitive conclusions” and that it was “unclear whether any potential effect from from seaweed extract would lead to an improvement in weight-related health issues, such as a reduced risk of diabetes.”

They also say that blocking fat is not always beneficial for you: “Fat plays an important role in metabolism; it’s just the intake of excessive fat that is a health problem. This means that the potential for alginate to stop excess fat being absorbed by the body has its downsides, and the excess fat will have to come out in come capacity.”

It looks the jury is still out on seaweed’s weight-loss properties – but it’s so delicious, here at Telegraph Food we reckon it’s worth adding a little extra to your diet anyway. Here are some our favourite recipes.

Seaweed salad recipe

Seaweed salad recipe. Photo: James Bedford
Seaweed salad recipe. Photo: James Bedford

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

  • 280 g dry wakame seaweed
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • 2 avocados
  • 4 handfuls of mixed salad leaves
  • a glug of toasted-sesame-seed oil
  • 24 redcurrants

METHOD

Chop the cucumber and apple into long, thin pieces, to resemble matchsticks. Cut the avocados into small cubes. Place the leaves and seaweed in a mixing bowl, add a glug of sesame-seed oil, and toss together. Place the salad in a bowl, and add the cucumber, apple, avocado and a scattering of redcurrants.

Rolled oatcakes with seaweed recipe

Rolled oatcakes with seaweed. Photo: ANDREW TWORT
Rolled oatcakes with seaweed. Photo: ANDREW TWORT

Makes 24 to 28 biscuits

  • 1 sheet of nori
  • 150g (5½oz) rolled oats
  • 140g (5oz) plain flour
  • 60g (2oz) soft light-brown sugar
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 120g (4¼oz) salted butter
  • 4 tbsp full-fat natural yogurt
  • splash of full-fat milk (if needed)
  • sprinkling of sea salt and seaweed*

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Line two baking-trays with parchment paper and set aside. Heat the nori sheet in the oven for a minute to crisp up, then chop finely.

Combine the rolled oats, plain flour, brown sugar, bicarbonate of soda, ½ tsp sea salt and approx 1½ tbsp chopped nori in a large mixing-bowl. Dice the cold butter and toss into the oat mixture. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the mixture. This process can be done in a food processor but you’ll break up the seaweed, giving the biscuits a greenish hue, and the oats will be cut up into smaller bits.

Add the yogurt to the butter-enriched oat mixture and fold the mixture with your hands until you have a crumbly dough. If the yogurt is thick, you might add a tablespoon or two of milk.

 

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