Seaweed and other edible algae are an integral part of the Japanese diet. Many of us are familiar with seaweed in our miso soup and sushi. With globalization, our diets are becoming increasingly influenced by other cuisines. Not only do seaweed snacks taste delicious, they also have an abundance of health benefits. Seaweed is rich in unique bioactive compounds which play an important role in modulating chronic diseases.
What Are the Different Types of Seaweed?
Seaweed can be divided into different categories based on their cell structure, pigments, and other characteristics. The most commonly consumed is green algae such as sea grapes, sea lettuce, and Ulva. Brown algae including Arame, Kelp, Kombu, and Wakame are often found in Miso Soup. Red seaweed such as Nori, Laver, and Dulse are used in Sushi. Blue-green algae such as Chlorella and Spirulina are renowned for their health benefits and are taken as supplements.
Seaweed packs a serious nutritional punch and is full of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants. Here are a few reasons why you should make seaweed a part of your diet right away.
Give Your Metabolism a Boost
The functioning of the thyroid gland plays an important role in overall health and well-being. When this gland does not perform optimally, it slows down your metabolism and leads to other health issues such as muscle weakness, high cholesterol, and fatigue. Seaweed is rich in iodine which is necessary to keep the thyroid healthy to produce metabolism-managing hormones.
Get Your Omega-3 Fix
Seaweed is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. A single sheet of dried Nori seaweed contains the same amount of omega-3 as two whole avocados. Omega-3s are needed to keep inflammation in check, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.
Improve Mental Health
Studies have shown that seaweed has notable mood boosting properties and can alleviate symptoms of depression. This property of seaweed is again attributed to the high level of iodine in this wonder food. Iodine increases energy and fights mood swings and fatigue.
Keep Your Heart Ticking
Heart disease tops the list as one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Seaweed has immense benefits for your heart due to its micronutrient content and antioxidants. It is recommended for anyone with high blood pressure and can help prevent the onset of cardiovascular disease.
In the last couple of years, seaweed has evolved from an exotic treat to an everyday snack. Its growing popularity is driven by the fact that it adds flavor to many foods while being healthy. Given its impressive nutritional profile, it may be time to give seaweed snacks a try!