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Seaweed Benefits

Seaweed Benefits

Seaweeds are a type of algae that grows in the sea ranging in colour from red to green to brown. Found along rocky shorelines in many parts of the world, it is a common staple in countries such as Japan, Korea, and China. It can be easily incorporated into many dishes, is highly nutritious, and has many health benefits!

Photo by Nicholas Der Khors from Burst

Supports thyroid function

Your thyroid glands are responsible for the release of hormones that facilitate the control of growth, reproduction, production of energy, and damage cell repair. Without sufficient amounts of iodine and tyrosine, your thyroids cannot function properly and you may begin experiencing symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain. Seaweed contains tyrosine and iodine which your thyroid uses to make these hormones. Seaweeds also have an incredibly unique ability to absorb large amounts of iodine from the sea.


A Great Source of Minerals and Vitamins

Each type of seaweed has its own special nutritional attribute. Popping some dried seaweed in your dishes is definitely the way to go if you want to boost your vitamin and mineral intake!
While the nutritional values may differ between different types of seaweeds, generally, 1 tablespoon (equivalent to 7 grams) supplies:
  • Calories: 20
  • Carbs: 1.7 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 0.5 gram
  • Fiber: 0.3 grams
  • Riboflavin: 15% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
  • Thiamin: 11% of the RDI
  • Iron: 11% of the RDI
  • Manganese: 7% of the RDI
  • Copper: 21% of the RDI

They also contain small amounts of folate, zinc, sodium, calcium, and magnesium as well as vitamins A, C, E, and K. For a tiny tablespoon’s worth of seaweed, the amount of nutrients it supplies is quite amazing! Seaweeds also contain all the essential amino acids that you need and are a good source of omega-3 fats and vitamin B12. What’s not to love about it?


Contains a Wide Array of Protective Antioxidants

Antioxidants such as vitamin A, C, and E in seaweed are protective because they stabilise these substances in our bodies called free radicals and make them less likely to damage our cells. Moreover, excessive production of free radicals is considered an underlying cause of many diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Seaweeds also possess an astounding variety of beneficial plant compounds including flavonoids and carotenoids which can also protect your body from free radical damage.
Photo by Zukiman Mohamad from Pexels

Supports Gut Health 

Now, your gut bacteria is absolutely crucial when we talk about gut health. Any imbalances in your gut flora can lead to illness or disease. The wonderful thing about seaweed?  It is a remarkable source of fiber - with a higher fiber content than most fruits and vegetables - and can promote gut health. These much-needed fiber are used as a food source for the “good” bacteria in your large intestine. Besides that, seaweed also contains a type of sugar called polysaccharides which can enhance the growth of “good” gut bacteria as well!


Facilitates Weight Loss

As seaweed is significantly made up of fiber, it does not contain any calories. Another bonus is that the fiber in the seaweed slows stomach emptying which makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time and delays hunger pangs. In fact, seaweed is considered to have some anti-obesity effects due to a substance called fucoxanthin! Several studies have suggested that the fucoxanthin in seaweed increases our metabolism which aids in losing weight.


Decrease Risk of Heart Disease

High cholesterol, high blood pressure, excessive blood clotting, smoking, and being physically inactive or overweight can increase the risk of developing heart diseases. Fascinatingly, seaweed can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels! It also contains a type of carbohydrates called fucans which aids in preventing the formation of blood clots. If that isn’t spectacular enough, seaweeds have also been reported to reduce blood pressure as well!


May Reduce Risk of Osteoporosis

Oxidation of substances called free radicals can bring about myriads of health problems such as the weakening of bones. As seaweeds contain a host of antioxidant compounds, they can aid in preventing bone breakdown by free radicals. The substance called fucoidans in seaweed can also protect the cells that facilitate bone growth.


Parting Pearls of Wisdom

Seaweeds are incredible, aren’t they? Tiny yet packing that healthy punch! It is all well and good if you would like to add it to your diet but for individuals who are using multiple medications or have concerns regarding allergies, always ensure to check with your doctor to ascertain that it's all A-OK. If you're curious about our other articles, have a pop by here!


References:

Jo Lewin. (n.d.). The health benefits of seaweed. Retrieved from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-seaweed 
Mark Stibich. (2021). Seaweed Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits. Retrieved from https://www.verywellfit.com/seaweeds-health-claims-2223487  
Sharon O’Brien. (2018). 7 Surprising Health Benefits of Eating Seaweed. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-seaweed 
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