Amazing Benefits of Seaweed Every Health Freak Should Know
Have you heard of seaweed, a plant grown in deep oceans? Several researches claim that consuming seaweed is a highly nutritious and healthy way to add additional minerals and vitamins to your daily meals. Even though seaweed provides numerous health benefits, it also carries some contaminants from the sea to your food plate.
Seaweed is a food item in Asian cuisine that is increasingly gaining popularity amongst health- enthusiasts. Seaweed or sea vegetables are types of algae that are grown in the sea. Consuming seaweed is a highly nutritious and healthy way to add additional minerals and vitamins to your daily meals. Moreover, seaweed also contains all of the necessary amino acids required by the human body. This makes them complete sources of protein (4, 5). Also, researchers say that seaweed is a great source of vitamin B12, a vitamin usually present in eggs, poultry, meat, and dairy products.
Regular consumption of seaweed can boost your health and guard you from certain ailments. This little sea plant has been widely consumed in Asian cuisine for eras. There are nearly 10,000 varieties of seaweed both in flavor as well as nutritional properties. The most well-known seaweed species is nori, which is dried in sheets and generally used to make sushi. Other popular varieties of seaweed include arame, dulse, kelp, wakame, and spirulina.
Even though seaweed provides numerous health benefits, it also carries some contaminants from the sea to your food plate. If you have come across some mixed information on the advantages and disadvantages of consuming seaweed, here's some information that will clear all your doubts about consuming seaweed.
Health Benefits of Seaweed
Not just minerals and vitamins, but seaweed also offers unique plant compounds that contribute to good health and prevention of diseases. Here’s a list of some of the potential health benefits of seaweed.
1. Enhances thyroid function
The thyroid gland performs a key role in your overall health. Iodine is extremely essential for the proper functioning of the thyroid. Seaweed is a rich source of iodine. Inadequacy or absence of iodine hampers the thyroid gland’s efficiency to produce adequate quantities of thyroid hormone. Thyroid hormone is responsible for regulating numerous body functions, such as metabolism. In medical terms, the inadequacy of thyroid hormone causes a condition known as hypothyroidism. If your body faces inadequacy of iodine, you might develop goiter—a noticeable enlargement of the thyroid gland. Iodine insufficiency can also affect children in their developmental phases, both in the womb and during early childhood.
2. Improves gut health
Seaweed possesses carrageenans, agars, and fucoidans, which work as prebiotic, non-digestible fibers that offer food to the good bacteria in the digestive tract. Sulfated polysaccharides (sugars present in seaweed) aid in boosting the good bacteria’s growth and increasing the presence of fatty acids that help to keep the gut lining healthy.
3. Promotes heart health
Some researches reveal that seaweed consumption might help to decrease blood pressure. It might also help to lessen low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol and overall cholesterol levels. However, yet more research has to be performed to reveal the potential health benefits of seaweed for heart health.
4. Controls blood sugar levels
Brown seaweed consists of fucoxanthin, an antioxidant. The presence of fucoxanthin gives the vegetable its brown color. The antioxidant might contribute in stabilizing blood sugar levels and plummeting your risk of acquiring type II diabetes.
5. Makes the immune system better
Some researches reveal that seaweed consumption might help in boosting your immune system by battling viruses and stopping them from entering into your body. However, yet more research has to be carried out to unveil the potential benefits of seaweed for the immune system.
6. Might help in reducing the risk of cancer
Including seaweed in your meals can help in reducing the risk of falling prey to certain types of cancers. It can reduce estrogen levels, which might decrease the risk of breast cancer. Currently, researchers are working on finding more evidences for proving the benefits of seaweed for reducing the risk of cancer.
7. Contributes weight loss
Consuming seaweed can help you in your weight loss journey as it delays hunger, and thus helps you consume fewer calories. It contains a lot of fiber, which does not contain any calories. This fiber also helps in calming your cravings and make you feel fuller for longer. Seaweed is also deliberated to show positive results on obese people. Numerous animal researches reveal that a constituent in seaweed called fucoxanthin might help in reducing body fat.
Can Consumption of Seaweed Cause Allergies?
Even though there are no evidences of getting allergies after consuming seaweed, their chances cannot be completely denied. Iodine allergies as well as shellfish allergies are two types of allergies that can be acquired due to the consumption of seaweed. Shellfish allergies can be extremely hazardous, hence staying cautious about any probable source of cross-contamination before consuming seaweed is essential. If someone is sensitive to iodine, the iodine content in seaweed might be harmful to that person.
What are the Best Ways of Consuming Seaweed?
Seaweed can be consumed in raw as well as dried form, depending on its type. You might easily find some popular types of seaweed, such as nori, in your local superstore; however other varieties of seaweed can be difficult to obtain. Asian grocery shops are likely to have a wide range of seaweed varieties available.
What is the Ideal Way of Storing Seaweed?
Fresh seaweed must be stored the same way other leafy vegetables are stored i.e. in refrigerators. Rinse fresh seaweed under clean running water before consuming it raw or cooked. Dried seaweed must be stored in an airtight jar for long use.
How to Use Seaweed in Food?
The simplest way to consume seaweed is by making use of a dried seaweed wrapper (nori)—these types of wraps are usually seen in sushi restaurants. Nori can be used to wrap almost any type of food stuffing. Also, by crushing seaweed into dried seaweed flakes, it can be used as a sprinkler on a salad or other food items for a nutritional boost. It can also be added in soups for a nutritional add on and flavor.
Seaweeds are a great choice for health freaks if consumed with care. So it is time to explore some interesting recipes that include seaweed and boost your health status.
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