Sea Vegetables may sound like a strange thing, but if you aren’t incorporating these amazing foods into your diet, you are missing out on a massive nutritional powerhouse!
The term sea vegetable refers to edible seaweeds. They are incredibly versatile ingredients that add a unique flavor and texture to your dishes while overloading them with an amazing array of vitamins and minerals. Sea vegetables actually provide ALL of the 56 minerals and trace minerals and are a rich source of most them—-including calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc, selenium, and iodine. In addition, these minerals in sea vegetables are often more bioavailable than in other foods (meaning your body can access and use more of the nutrients!)
Sea vegetables often come in a dried form as the drying process helps preserve their nutrients. They can be eaten in this dried form or simply soaked in water to rehydrate. They can also be used in just about any dish (kind of like how you’d throw spinach into things!). Think soups, salads, stir-fry’s, etc. They add a deep, savory flavor called umami, which can help satisfy your salty cravings in a wonderfully healthy way.
Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables
Because of their abundance of vitamins and minerals, sea vegetables provide a health boost in just about every way! But here are some of their most noteworthy benefits:
• Thyroid Health
Sea vegetables are the absolute best plant-based source of iodine and some of them have more iodine per serving than any other food on the planet! Because your body uses iodine to make thyroid hormones, it is crucial to healthy thyroid function.
The minerals in sea vegetables help remove toxins, metals, pollutants, and carcinogens from the body. The also inhibit the absorption of these toxins into the digestive tract. This detoxification process can be vital to helping protect against numerous types of cancer.
Sea vegetables are some of the most alkalizing foods on the planet, which means they help balance the body’s Ph levels. This process can help fight inflammation in the body, while preventing free radical damage (that advances your body’s aging!) and also creates an anti-cancer environment in your body.
• Digestive Health
Sea vegetables are rich in dietary fiber (both soluble and insoluble) so they help with digestion and maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. They also can help you digest other foods that may be difficult for your body or may cause gas.
So, there is no doubt that sea vegetables are a wonderful addition to your diet. But what are they and how should you incorporate them? Here is a rundown of some of the most popular options:
Nori is the most well-known form of sea vegetable as it is the thin paper wrapping used for sushi. It is basically made from shredded seaweed that is then pressed together into paper sheets. Nori is loaded with B vitamins, Vitamin K, and DHA, a omega-3 that can help manage blood pressure. Nori sheets can actually be used as wraps for anything, not just sushi! So buy some sheets and play with some nori wraps!
Kombu is a type of kelp common in Japan and is the single best source of iodine. It is also rich in iodine and can help increase the digestibility of other foods that may cause gas. You can add some sheets of it to any broth to add flavor. You can also buy it in powdered form and sprinkle on savory dishes to add a nutrition boost.
Wakame is a great source of folate and Vitamin K and is even said to have metabolic properties (we like anything that helps our metabolism, right?). It is often used as a base in seaweed salads and most commonly in miso soup. You can add rehydrated wakame to whole grain or vegetable dishes to add a savory ‘umami’ flavor.
Dulse is one of the best sea vegetable sources of protein and iron. It is also a great snack option as it doesn’t require any cooking or soaking. You can buy it in flake or powder form and sprinkle it on savory dishes like salads, soups, pizza, or popcorn. You can also add it to your smoothies for a protein and iodine boost.
Kelp provides a rich source of magnesium and B Vitamins to help with energy and balance of your body’s chemical reactions. You can add dried kelp flakes to salads or soups. Kelp also comes in the form of kelp noodles, providing a much healthier and gluten-free alternative!
Ok so now that you are an expert on sea vegetables, get out there and try some and let me know what you think!