What is Seaweed
Seaweed is a type of plant organism that grows in the ocean. Some of the seaweed or algae are one-celled microorganisms, which convert light into energy through photosynthesis. However, most seaweeds are multi-celled and often used in herbal medicines and part of a regular East Asian diet.
Seaweed is known for its high nutritional content, including trace minerals like iodine, and as a rich source of fibre. In addition, seaweed is usually low in calories and can be a tasty snack for everyone to enjoy. It is also gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan-friendly, putting it high on the list of healthy foods.
Types of Seaweed
Some of the different types of seaweeds are:
Green algae - sea lettuce or sea grapes
Red algae - laver and nori
Brown algae - kombu, kelp and wakame
Blue-green algae - spirulina and chlorella
With so many varieties of seaweed, you have even more choices and ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Benefits of Seaweed
Seaweed contains a high amount of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other compounds that make them so beneficial for us. Let’s take a further look at some of its benefits:
High in Nutrition
Seaweed is packed full of nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. It also contains a range of vitamins like vitamin A, B, C,and E, and minerals such as folate, calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, iodine, and selenium.
Since it is also low in calories, you can consume it regularly as a snack or as an addition to your dishes.
For Your Thyroid Health
Seaweed is also a rich source of iodine, which helps with thyroid hormone production in your body. These hormones help to regulate your metabolism and essential bodily functions like your heart rate, breathing, body weight, menstrual cycles, body temperature, and cholesterol. Therefore, having a healthy, functioning thyroid is an important part of your overall health.
Improve Gut Health
Seaweeds are high in fibre, helping you to feel full without the calories. The dietary fibre delays stomach emptying and may prevent overeating.
Moreover, seaweeds contain agars, carrageenans and fucoidans which act as prebiotics that feed good bacteria in your gut. What you put into your body influences what types of bacteria dominate in your gut.
Prebiotics may have anti-inflammatory effects inside your colon and even the ability to block harmful bacteria from sticking to your gut wall and forming stomach ulcer.
Seaweeds may also help you to digest certain foods like beans, resulting in less gas and bloating and improving your overall digestion.
Helps With Diabetes
Seaweed contains fucoxanthin, which is thought to help reduce insulin resistance and stabilize blood sugar levels. In addition, fibre in seaweed may also slow down the speed of which carbohydrates and sugars are absorbed from a meal, making it easier to control blood sugar levels. This can greatly reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Reduce Heart Risk
Seaweed contains soluble fibre and omega-3 fatty acids that are both beneficial for heart health. In addition, sulfated polysaccharides in seaweed may also help in reducing blood pressure and prevent blood clotting, along with reducing bad cholesterol and total cholesterol levels.
Possible Side Effects of Eating Seaweed
Of course, consuming too much of any food can also be detrimental to your health. Here are some things that you need to be aware about when eating seaweed:
Excess Levels of Iodine
Since seaweed already has high levels of iodine, consuming too much of it can lead to thyroid dysfunction, weight gain and tightness around the neck. Those with existing thyroid conditions should monitor their iodine intake. When in doubt, consult with your doctor as you introduce seaweed into your diet.
In most Asian cuisines, seaweed is served with foods that contain goitrogens that inhibit iodine absorption. Such foods include tofu, soy milk and cruciferous vegetables. This could explain why Asian people are able to consume high amounts of seaweed without any issues.
Contains Heavy Metals
Seaweed can also absorb and store minerals in concentrated amounts. This can mean that seaweed may contain large amounts of toxic heavy metals like cadmium, mercury and lead.
For the most part, heavy metal content in seaweed has been below the maximum concentration allowance in most countries. However, to be on the safe side, you can always buy seaweed that is organic or from trusted suppliers with high quality sources.
Discover the Power of Seaweed with Kombu Balls
That being said, seaweed is still a powerful superfood that you can incorporate into your diet. One of the most popular types of seaweed is Kombu, which is used in making a simple dashi stock as a base for many Japanese dishes.
In fact, Kombu is high in fibre and iodine when compared to other seaweeds. It is also high in calcium, alkaline minerals, vitamins, chlorophyll, and amino, fatty, fucoidan and alginic acids to support bone health and hormone balance, healthy menopause and breast health, healthy thyroid and immune system.
Our Nature’s Glory Kombu Balls capture the benefits of Kombu in the form of food-based health supplements that you can take everyday. Made from deep-sea kelp, plum concentrate and honey, Kombu Balls can give you the overall benefits of hormone, heart, thyroid and immune health with the convenience of supplements. You can swallow, chew or suck 10 to 15 balls or more daily after meals for its intended effects.