Sea vegetables (seaweed) are fantastic in soups, salads, stir-fries and more. Furthermore, they are chock-full of health benefits. You can find seaweed varieties in health food stores or in Asian markets. Rich in iron, iodine, calcium, potassium and more, seaweed nutrition lends itself to treating a variety of health issues. Learn about various types of seaweed and the unique benefits they can offer by reading the list below.
Here are 6 sea vegetables you should try:
Sea vegetables are known for being high in iodine, and arame is certainly no exception. This variety of seaweed is also high in iron, vitamin A, magnesium, and calcium.
With all its nutrients, arame can:
- Balance Hormones: The iodine in arame can help regulate hormones. This is especially helpful if you suffer from ovarian cysts, PMS, or heavy periods.
- Skin and Nail Health: Due to its many vitamins and minerals, arame can help you grow stronger and longer hair and nails.
- Fights Infections Like MRSA: Arame can help boost your immune system, which is beneficial when fighting off unwanted bacteria, such as MRSA.
Cooking With Arame
Soak for 5 minutes, then simmer for 5-10 minutes. Arame has a sweet, mild taste, and is good sautéed, either alone or with other vegetables. You can also add it cold to salad, rice, or chopped veggies. Try serving it with a splash of homemade salad dressing.
Also on the list of healthy sea vegetables is dulse. This is a red variety of seaweed found off the Irish coast. Like arame, dulse is a great source of calcium, iodine, iron and magnesium.
Here are the ways in which dulse can benefit your health:
- Heart Health: Dulse is also rich in potassium, making it beneficial for heart health. Potassium is a vasodilator, which can decrease blood pressure and lower risk of heart attack. Furthermore, the antioxidants dulse contains helps fight free radicals in your body, which can lead to a variety of diseases, including heart disease.
- Promotes Healthy Bones: Dulse and other sea vegetables are also great for your bones. This is due to the calcium, iron and magnesium content, all of which play vital roles in bone health.
- Thyroid: Dulse also contains iodine, which can be helpful for treating a sluggish thyroid. However, you should speak to your doctor before adding iodine to your diet, as too much of it can be problematic.
- Protects Eyes: Dulse and many other sea vegetables contain vitamin A, which can help protect your eyes from age-related disorders. This includes such disorders as macular degeneration as well as cataracts.
Cooking with Dulse
While some sea vegetables require cooking, you can consume dulse flakes uncooked as a condiment. Try sprinkling them on your soups, salads, and land vegetables. In particular, it’s delicious on potatoes and corn. Furthermore, if you’re on a no or low-salt diet, you might consider trying dulse. It’s salty and smoky, making it a good substitute for salt.
Hijiki is another form of sea vegetable that can help with digestive issues as well as provide a good dose of energy.
Health Beneifts of Hijiki:
- Digestive Help: Sea vegetables are full of dietary fiber, including hijiki. Dietary fiber helps move food through the digestive tract, which helps you absorb more nutrients from the food you eat. It also helps reduce digestive issues such as constipation.
- Boosts Energy: Along with digestive health, hijiki can boost your energy. This is due to the iron content of hijiki, which is remarkably high for a vegetable. (1) In fact, some varieties of hijiki has even more iron than chicken liver, which is one of the most iron-rich foods in the world. For this reason, hijiki is fantastic for treating and preventing anemia. And when you get enough iron, it increases your red blood cell count. This in turn increases oxygenation to your extremities and enhances energy levels.
Cooking with Hijiki
Rinse, then soak hijiki for 20 minutes. Rinse again, or simmer for 30 minutes to a half an hour. It will expand when soaked. Add it to noodle dishes or stir-fries.
Kelp, rich in iodine, calcium, omega-3s and other nutrients, also offers a good amount of health benefits. And, amazingly enough, kelp uses iodine to protect itself. When facing a chemical threat in the water, it releases iodides that protect it from suffering harm. Additionally, kelp can:
- Promote Weight Loss: Kelp contains a protein called fucoxanthin, which can dramatically help reduce fat tissue. (2)
- Prevent Diabetes: According to a study out of Korea, kelp can help improve blood glucose levels, increase antioxidant enzyme activities and promote glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes. (3)
Cooking With Kelp:
Kelp, like dulse, is great as a condiment, sprinkled on your food in powder form. It also acts as a natural tenderizer for beans and stews.
Kombu is great for assisting in digestion, treating rheumatoid arthritis and promoting thyroid health:
- Digestive Aid: Kombu has a wealth of amino acids that can help break down heavy starches, such as that found in foods like beans. (4)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis: Kombu also contains fucoidan, which is a sulfated polysaccharide. It’s found in various species of brown algae and brown seaweed. This component may be helpful in treating rheumatoid arthritis. One study found, in fact, that kombu can actually reduce the survival of inflamed cells that cause rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. (5)
- Promotes Thyroid Health: While many seaweed varieties contain iodine and can therefore treat thyroid issues, kombu has the highest amount of iodine of all the seaweeds. Iodine is also crucial for healthy hormone production.
Cooking With Kombu
Kombu is best is slow-cooking soups, beans and stews. Be sure to not let it rapidly boil for any length of time as this can make it bitter. Add a whole chunk, about 4 inches long, to your cooking dish. Once tender, remove it, chop it up and place it back into the dish.
Wakame, used to make miso soup, also boasts a good amount of health benefits:
- Lowers Breast Cancer Risk: A study conducted at the University of California suggests that wakame could help lower risk of breast cancer, as well as mortality among postmenopausal women. (6)
- Fights Diabetes: Wakame also contains fucoxanthin, which is a key component that has a diebetic effect. In fact, a 2009 study out of Japan found that when added to a high fat diet, wakame greatly suppressed body weight in mice. Before treatment, the mice showed signs of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia. Adding wakame to their diets, however, corrected these conditions. (7)
Cooking With Wakame
You can choose to soak or not soak wakame, but you should rinse it before adding it to soups. In particular, this seaweed is an ingredient of miso soup. However, with its sweet flavor, wakame is also good for cold salads.