Unless you eat a lot of Japanese food, there’s a good chance you’re not eating one of the healthiest greens on the planet… healthier than spinach, collard greens, even kale!
I’m talking about seaweed.
Now, I’ll be honest. Seaweed is NOT one of my favorite foods.
But I’m a true believer in the power of “extreme greens,” so I came up with some easy tricks and recipes to make seaweed a part of my diet.
I’ll share those tips with you later in this blog… but first, I want to tell you about the amazing health benefits you’ll get from seaweed.
1. Seaweed is a great source of vitamin B12.
If you don’t eat a lot of meat and dairy, you may not be getting enough B12 throughout the day. And vitamin B12 is too important to miss, because it plays a vital role in helping to…
- Prevent anemia
- Reduce certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease
- Protect nerves to improve cognitive function and focus
- Boosting mood and energy levels 1,2
2. It’s one of the best sources of iodine.
Iodine plays a vital role in the human body, especially in terms of your metabolism. Even a minor iodine deficiency can lead to low moods, fatigue, weakened immune function, and difficulty losing weight.3
So, unless your doctor tells you to avoid iodine-rich foods, it’s a great idea to add seaweed to your diet.
3. Seaweed is packed with polyphenols.
I can’t say enough good things about polyphenols… I’m obsessed.
And the polyphenols found in seaweed have been shown to help prevent free radical damage, reduce risk for certain diseases, and even improve heart health.4
The most important polyphenol compounds in seaweed are…
- Glutathione for brain & nervous system health.
- Fucoxanthin to help manage body weight.
- Catechin to help boost heart health & metabolism.
- Pholorotannins which are thought to have antimicrobial, antiviral properties –– and may even help maintain healthy blood sugar.5,6,7,8,9,10
4. Seaweed is rich in heart-healthy Omega 3’s.
Seaweed is one of the best vegetarian sources of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids.11
Omega-3s, as you know, play a huge role in maintaining your health. They positively impact your cholesterol levels, your joint health, your mental focus… they even help lower your risk for certain markers of heart disease.12,13,14
HOW TO MAKE SEAWEED WORK FOR YOU:
Now, just because it’s fantastic for you doesn’t mean it’s easy to get used to snacking on seaweed… but with a little creativity, it can actually taste pretty good!
Now, one of the most classic ways to eat seaweed is in a salad, or chuka wakame. You’ve probably seen it at sushi bars or Japanese restaurants.
But if you’re not a fan of those flavors, don’t worry. Seaweed (either dried or rehydrated) adds a great salty kick to just about about any salad.
It’s particularly good when chopped and tossed with raw shredded vegetables like broccoli slaw, shredded carrots, and daikon radish.
Just remember, it’s salty – so don’t add too much salt to your dressing!
In Japanese culture, it’s traditional to sprinkle a seaweed-based seasoning called furikake on rice. It’s a mixture of seaweed, sesame seeds and seasoning that adds a briny, salty, addictive kick to anything it’s paired with.
Even better, it’s available in the Asian section at most grocery stores. If you can’t find furikake, look for gomasio – they’re very similar.
Now, you know the rule on rice: “If it’s white, keep it out of sight.”
But that shouldn’t stop you from giving furikake or gomasio a try… it’s delicious on cauliflower rice, sprinkled over cooked meats and vegetables, or even on a salad.
If you’ve ever had sushi, you’ve seen seaweed used as a wrap. If you’re not a fan of raw fish, you can still make seaweed wraps work for you… just think of it as a substitute for a tortilla.
Look for nori, the wrappers used for sushi, and fill it with any of your favorite sandwich fillings: chicken salad, sliced meat, avocado, cheese, even tuna or shrimp.
[TIP: I recommend a meat alternative called Quorn, which makes high-protein turkey and “chik’n” products. More info on this soon!]
Get creative – you never know which combination of flavors will get you hooked on seaweed.
And honestly, the possibilities are limitless. The more I try seaweed, algae, and other “extreme greens,” the more I’ve learned to enjoy them.
So do me a favor: give seaweed a chance.
I’d love it if you’d leave a comment below and let me know what you think about these seaweed tips!
Steven Gundry, MD
P.S. I’m serious! I want to hear from you. In fact, I have a question for you…
What was the most interesting or exotic food dish you’ve eaten recently?
Where did you eat it, how did you like it, and how did it make you feel? Comment below and let me know.
2. Vitamin B12. Linus Pauling Institute. 2014. Available at: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-B12. Accessed September 23, 2016.
3. Tietelbaum J. Iodine Deficiency – An Old Epidemic Is Back. Psychology Today. 2011. Available at: www.psychologytoday.com/blog/complementary-medicine/201108/iodine-deficiency-old-epidemic-is-back. Accessed September 23, 2016.
4. Farasat M, Khavari-Nejad R, Nabavi S, Namjooyan F. Antioxidant Activity, Total Phenolics and Flavonoid Contents of some Edible Green Seaweeds from Northern Coasts of the Persian Gulf. Iran J Pharm Res. 2014;13(1):163-170.
5. Farasat M, Khavari-Nejad R, Nabavi S, Namjooyan F. Antioxidant Properties of two Edible Green Seaweeds From Northern Coasts of the Persian Gulf. Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod. 2013;8(1):47-52. doi:10.17795/jjnpp-7736.
6. Papp L, Lu J, Holmgren A, Khanna K. From Selenium to Selenoproteins: Synthesis, Identity, and Their Role in Human Health. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 2007;9(7):775-806. doi:10.1089/ars.2007.1528.
7. Cornish MGarbary D. Antioxidants from macroalgae: potential applications in human health and nutrition. ALGAE. 2010;25(4):155-171. doi:10.4490/algae.2010.25.4.155.
8. Peng J, Yuan J, Wu C, Wang J. Fucoxanthin, a Marine Carotenoid Present in Brown Seaweeds and Diatoms: Metabolism and Bioactivities Relevant to Human Health. Marine Drugs. 2011;9(12):1806-1828. doi:10.3390/md9101806.
9. Del Rio D, Rodriguez-Mateos A, Spencer J, Tognolini M, Borges G, Crozier A. Dietary (Poly)phenolics in Human Health: Structures, Bioavailability, and Evidence of Protective Effects Against Chronic Diseases. Antioxidants & Redox Signaling. 2013;18(14):1818-1892. doi:10.1089/ars.2012.4581.
10. Gupta SAbu-Ghannam N. Bioactive potential and possible health effects of edible brown seaweeds. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2011;22(6):315-326. doi:10.1016/j.tifs.2011.03.011.
11. Dietary Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids | Overview. Omega 3 Institute. Available at: www.dhaomega3.org/Overview/Dietary-Sources-of-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids. Accessed September 23, 2016.
12. Eriksson M. Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease. Clinical Nutr. 1991;10(1):61. doi:10.1016/0261-5614(91)90084-p.
13. Karr J, Alexander J, Winningham R. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cognition throughout the lifespan: A review. Nutr Neuro. 2011;14(5):216-225. doi:10.1179/1476830511y.0000000012.
14. Farzaneh-Far R. Association of Marine Omega-3 Fatty Acid Levels With Telomeric Aging in Patients With Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA. 2010;303(3):250. doi:10.1001/jama.2009.2008.