Seaweed, quite honestly, doesn’t make my mouth water. I can eat it in sushi, but the thought of chewing some slimy, green and salty leaves isn’t that appealing. So why would we want to do that? Well, when you think of Seaweed, correlate it to IODINE. Then, when you think of Iodine, think of your Thyroid. These three are best friends. Seaweed = Iodine = Happy Thyroid. That’s about as simple as I can put it.
What is Iodine?
You can read ALL about Iodine, its chemical makeup, when it was first found etc. in this article. I can tell you that Iodine is a chemical component found on the periodic table, with the symbol I and atomic number 53. It is also a water-soluble trace element. That’s a quick chemical breakdown of what iodine is. Iodine deficiency was basically a plague in the 1920s, which is when it was added to salt, creating iodized salt. This is where most of us get some of our iodine, from salt.
So, why do we need to eat seaweed if we have iodine in our salt?
The Global Healing Center has a great statement on why we don’t want to use salt as our iodine source, “Sodium chloride does contain added iodine, but also comes with a host of chemical additives and a loss of nutritional value. After being bleached, processed, and loaded with substances like fluoride sodium bicarbonate, modern day table salt is more of a health hazard than an iodine-containing health substance. Skip it.”
What are the major implications of low iodine levels? Extremely low levels cause the thyroid to slow down, but mildly low levels cause other health problems as well. Fatigue, depression, higher susceptibility to diseases and difficulty losing weight are results of low iodine levels and an underactive thyroid. Seaweed as a source of Iodine is a major reason to love it and try it, but seaweed also offers many other benefits to our bodies!
Seaweed’s other super powers!
1. Cleans Your Blood: The composition of seaweed is very close to the composition of blood plasma, which allows it to help regulate and purify your blood.
2. Major Calcium Source: Seaweed greatly surpasses our usual sources of milk and meat for calcium. Seaweed has 10 times more calcium than milk and 8 times more calcium than beef. Whoa!
3. Protection from Toxins: Seaweed is your shield to environmental toxins in the body by helping the body carry it out. Seaweed encourages the body to remove toxins by assisting it in the detox process.
4. Anti-oxidants: We’ve all heard the importance of anti-oxidants for basically everything. Seaweed specifically contains lignans. “Lignans have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis, or blood cell growth, the process through which fast-growing tumors not only gain extra nourishment, but send cancer cells out in the bloodstream to establish secondary tumors or metastases in other areas of the body. In addition, lignans have been credited with inhibiting estrogen synthesis in fat cells as effectively as some of the drugs used in cancer chemotherapy. In postmenopausal women, fat tissue is a primary site where estrogen is synthesized, and high levels of certain estrogen metabolites are considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer,” as explained on this website.
5. Anti-Cellulite: Seaweed deters cellulite build up! The chemical compounds in seaweed act like electrolytes to help break the chemical bonds that seal fat cells. Yes! That reason alone will send me to Costco for a bulk purchase!
6. Skin Healing: Seaweed is also great for your skin! The video we recently posted on DIY Holistic Skin Care mentions the benefits of a seaweed pack for aging skin.
Now that you’re convinced to add seaweed to your diet, there are a few different types of seaweed you should know and understand.
There’s Nori, which is the type of seaweed we find in sushi. You lose some nutrients in the toasted sheets, so if you decide to eat this kind try the untoasted option. Second is Kelp. I immediately think of fish food when I hear that word. This is the kind we find washing up on the shores and consumed in supplement form. Third is Dulse. I had never heard of this breed. Dulse is purchased in flakes, which you can shake and add to meals almost like a seasoning. Arame is next, and this is the black stringy kind of seaweed. Gross. Apparently, you have to soak it for a bit, then you can add it to meals, but the whole black stringy thing turns me off on that one. Wakame is a deep green seaweed that you can buy fresh or dehydrated and add to meals. Lastly, there’s Kombu, which is used in Japan as a flavor enhancer and to help digest and reduce gas when eating beans.
So there we have your different types of seaweed. My immediate next thought is how the heck do I eat this stuff??
Here’s some simple ways to add seaweed to your diet:
Blend it in Smoothies, Dressings, Sauces etc. This blog offers some great suggestions to adding the granule kind of seaweed to your basic foods, so it doesn’t drastically change what you eat.
Yummy Soup. I found this recipe. It’s called Soba Soup, which is like a more complicated miso soup, where a piece of Wakame seaweed is added to the recipe. Sounds very comforting.
How about some crispy chips?! Here is a recipe for Nori seaweed chips that looks like a great snack.You can actually buy these types of chips already packaged at a lot of grocery stores now, which might be easier.
This recipe looks perfect for the spring/summer time. A light and fresh Wakame-Cucumber salad. Recipe found here. And, it is simple, quick and easy, which means you’re more likely to actually make it and enjoy it.
Sold on the seaweed yet? It is definitely worth trying, attempting and going for. It might take some practice to find the right type of seaweed, or the right recipe, but the benefits to your health make it completely worth it. And, Kale tends to have a very strong, stinky smell when cooking, so think of that trade off when transitioning to the new green powerhouse.