This article is brought to by Pip Magazine and Power Super Foods.
Rich in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, seaweed offers a plethora of advantages for both human health and the environment.
Seaweed has been an integral part of traditional diets in various cultures for centuries. In recent years, it has gained popularity as a superfood due to its exceptional nutritional content and numerous health benefits.
Rich in essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and unique bioactive compounds, seaweed offers a plethora of advantages for both human health and the environment.
Seaweed lives and grows in the nutrient-rich waters of the ocean, absorbing important vitamins, minerals and trace elements from the surrounding waters that are often hard to find in food grown in soil. By eating seaweed, we are increasing our vitamin and mineral consumption. The more diverse types of seaweed we eat, the wider the range of nutritional benefits we experience.
Harvesting seaweed from the ocean and its shores is one of the most enjoyable ways of collecting edible food. There are a few things you must look out for though when thinking about harvesting it yourself. Firstly, the cleanliness of the water from which it has been growing. Because seaweed absorbs what is in the water around it, if collected from unclean or polluted waters, the seaweed will absorb this as well.
Seaweed is also a foundation species in many coastal marine ecosystems. It provides food and habitat for many other species, removing it can damage and destroy important marine ecologies that many other species rely on. And you must always check the laws in your local area. In most places, it is illegal to harvest seaweed that is still attached and in some areas you can only forage a limited amount of beach-cast seaweed. But always make sure it is fresh and below the high tide mark.
If you don’t live by the coast or you are unsure if your area is clean, you can always purchase dried seaweed from reputable companies that harvest it sustainably and test it for toxins.
We bring you 10 reasons to include seaweed in your diet…
1. Seaweed is highly nutritious
Seaweed is a treasure trove of essential nutrients. It is an excellent source of iodine which is a vital mineral required for thyroid function and metabolism regulation. Additionally, seaweed contains an array of vitamins including A, C, E, and various B vitamins, contributing to improved immunity, skin health and energy levels.
It also contains essential minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium, which support bone health, red blood cell production, muscle function and heart health.
2. It’s rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants are compounds that combat oxidative stress, cell damage and the risk of chronic diseases. Seaweed is abundant in antioxidants like flavonoids, carotenoids and phlorotannins which can neutralise free radicals and support overall health, including reducing the risk of cancer, cardiovascular diseases and cognitive decline.
3. It optimises metabolism and energy levels
As mentioned, seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, which is crucial for maintaining proper thyroid function. A well-functioning thyroid is essential for metabolism, hormone regulation and overall energy levels. Consuming iodine-rich seaweed can be particularly beneficial for individuals with iodine deficiency or those at risk of thyroid-related disorders.
4. It can help manage weight
Seaweed is low in calories and fat but high in fibre, which helps promote a feeling of fullness, which can reduce overall calorie intake. Additionally, some studies suggest that certain compounds found in seaweed may inhibit the digestion of fat, potentially contributing to weight loss.
5. It’s good for your heart
The high fibre content of seaweed can help lower cholesterol levels, promoting heart health and reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The presence of omega-3 fatty acids in some seaweed varieties can also contribute to maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing inflammation.
6. It promotes gut health
Seaweed contains specific types of fibre that act as prebiotics, supporting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. A healthy gut microbiome is associated with improved digestion, nutrient absorption, and a strengthened immune system.
7. For strong bones and muscle function
Seaweed is an excellent source of calcium, essential for maintaining strong bones and preventing osteoporosis. As well as calcium, it also provides magnesium which plays a role in bone health and muscle function.
8. It’s good for your skin
The antioxidants and vitamins present in seaweed can benefit skin health. Seaweed-based skincare products are increasingly popular due to their potential to hydrate, soothe and nourish the skin. Consuming seaweed may also promote skin health from within, as antioxidants can help protect skin cells from damage caused by environmental factors.
9. It’s a sustainable food source
Incorporating seaweed into our diets can have positive environmental impacts. Seaweed farming requires minimal resources such as freshwater, fertilisers and arable land. Seaweed plays a significant role in carbon sequestration, absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and reducing ocean acidification.
10. It’s versatile and delicious
Seaweed is a highly versatile ingredient that can be incorporated into various dishes. From sushi wraps to salads, soups and snacks, there are numerous creative ways to enjoy the unique flavours and textures of different seaweed varieties.
As with any food, moderation is key, as excessive consumption of seaweed can lead to an excessive intake of iodine and other minerals which may have adverse effects. As we embrace the marvels of seaweed, it is crucial to ensure responsible and sustainable sourcing to preserve the health of our oceans and planet. Because seaweed can absorb pollutants from the environment, it’s essential to choose seaweed products from reputable sources.