Healthy Benefits of Eating Seaweeds
Seaweed or sea vegetables are forms of algae that grow in the sea. They’re a food source for ocean life and range in color from red to green to brown to black. Seaweed grows along rocky shorelines around the world, but it’s most commonly eaten in Asian countries such as Japan, Korea and China. It’s extremely versatile and can be used in many dishes, including sushi rolls, soups and stews, salads, supplements and smoothies.
Contains Iodine and Tyrosine, Which Support Thyroid Function
Thyroid gland releases hormones to help control growth, energy production, reproduction and the repair of damaged cells in our body. Without enough iodine, we may start to experience symptoms like weight changes, fatigue or swelling of the neck over time. The recommended dietary intake (RDI) for iodine is 150 mcg per day.
- Nori:37 mcg/g
- Wakame:139 mcg/g
- Kombu:2523 mcg/g
Kelp is one of the best sources of iodine. Just 1 tsp (3.5g) of dried kelp could contain 59 times the RDI. Seaweed also contains an amino acid called tyrosine, which is used alongside iodine to make two key hormones that help the thyroid gland do its job properly.
Contains a Variety of Protective Antioxidants
Antioxidants can make unstable substances in our body called free radicals less reactive. This makes them less likely to damage our cells. Furthermore, excess free radical production is considered to be an underlying cause of several diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes. In addition to containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C and E, seaweed boasts a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including flavonoids and carotenoids (fucoxanthin). These have been shown to protect our body’s cells from free radical damage. It’s the main carotenoid found in brown algae, such as wakame, and it has 13.5 times the antioxidant capacity as vitamin E. Fucoxanthin has been shown to protect cell membranes better than vitamin A.
Provides Fiber and Polysaccharides that can support Gut Health
Gut bacteria play an enormous role in our health. It’s estimated that we have more bacteria cells in our body than human cells. An imbalance of good and bad gut bacteria can lead to sickness and diseases. Seaweed is an excellent source of fiber, which is known to promote gut health. It can make up about 25–75% of seaweed’s dry weight which is so much higher than the fiber content of most fruits and vegetables. Fiber can resist digestion and be used as a food source for bacteria in our large intestine instead. Additionally, particular sugars found in seaweed called sulfated polysaccharides have been shown to increase the growth of good gut bacteria. These polysaccharides can also increase the production of short-chain fatty acids, which provide support and nourishment to the cells lining on our gut.
May Help in Lose Weight by Delaying Hunger and Reducing Weight
Seaweed contains a lot of fiber, which does not contain any calories. The fiber in seaweed may slow stomach emptying, too. This helps us feel fuller for longer and can delay hunger. Seaweed is also considered to have anti-obesity effects.
May Reduce Heart Disease Risk
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Factors that increase the risk include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and being physically inactive or overweight. Interestingly, seaweed may help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Heart disease can also be caused by excessive blood clotting. However, seaweed contains carbohydrates called fucans, which may help prevent blood from clotting.
May help to reduce risk of Type 2 Diabetes by Improving Blood Sugar Control
Diabetes occurs when our body is unable to balance our blood sugar levels over time. Interestingly, seaweed has become a research focus for new ways to support people who are at risk of diabetes. An 8-week study revealed that fucoxanthin, a substance in brown seaweed, may help improve blood sugar control.
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