Nutrition from seaweeds

[Global] Seaweeds, a species of marine algae that grows in salt water is a food with enormous health benefits that has been a part of the traditional diet of the coastal communities of East Asia, particularly in Japan, China and Korea, South East Asia and South Africa. It is sold commercially in its dried form too.

“Seaweeds absorb minerals from the sea, hence they are rich in minerals and trace elements, especially calcium, iodine and iron”

The Different Varieties

Many varieties of seaweeds are found in nature, among them many are found to be edible and beneficial when consumed. ‘Nori’ is a commonly consumed red seaweed of Japan, where it is used to wrap sushi. In Scotland and Wales it was traditionally made into flat breads called ‘Sloke’ and ‘Laver.’ In Eastern Countries brown seaweed varieties like ‘Kombu’ and Wakame’ are widely used as flavouring agents in stews and soups.

Countries like Great Britain, Ireland and Scandinavia consume sea lettuce and sea grass (green seaweeds) which can be eaten raw as salads or cooked in soups. Wrack, Sea Spaghetti, Dulse and Irish Moss, Hijiki etc. are the names of some other edible seaweeds.

Seaweeds absorbs minerals from the sea, hence they are rich in minerals and trace elements, especially calcium, Iodine and iron as they tend to accumulate much higher levels in seaweed. Here are some other nutritional and health benefits of seaweed, along with some health risks to avoid as well.

Nutritional And Health Benefits

Rich in Fibre

The seaweeds extract alginates, carrageenan and agar are rich in soluble fibre which does not get digested in the gut easily and helps to attain satiety. These are added in processed foods like sausages and croissants for a favourable texture and stability. It also helps in weight management.

Abundance Of Other Nutrients

Seaweeds contains very small amounts of fats and it is rich in proteins and essential amino acids. Vitamins A, C, E and B 12 are also found in abundance in seaweed, making It good for vegetarians.

Potential Health Benefits

Seaweeds aids in digestion, lipid metabolism and Is rich in anti- inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Some Other Uses

Apart from its use in food items, seaweeds are also used as a common ingredient in cosmetics, paints, toothpaste and other industrial products like fertilizers, adhesives, gels, dyes, textile printing etc.

Health Risks

Seaweeds are edible and an excellent source of fibre, minerals and phytonutrients. Some seaweed varieties have high levels of sodium, iodine or heavy metals. So, it bears a possible health risk. Brown seaweed and the seaweed Hijiki, can accumulate heavy metals like arsenic, hence it should be avoided. Likewise, rotting seaweed is a source of a highly toxic gas called hydrogen sulfide that can cause vomiting and diarrhea.

 

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