Seaweed—yes, the brown-green streaks and bundles of oceanic plant-like material that wash up on beaches—is actually edible. Nori, the leafy leaves used to wrap sushi rolls and as a bowl of ramen garnish, is probably the most well-known and enjoyed seaweed, but this large, leafy seaweed comes in hundreds of colorful varieties, including wakame, kombu, and red dolphin and sugar kelp.
Seaweeds help support other marine life and clean the waters around them. When out of the water, it can bring more nutrition and minerals into our diets.
With so many companies bringing seaweed-based foods to the market, tasting the sea is easier than ever. Here’s why we all benefit from seaweed.
Good for people and the environment
For humans, seaweed is a one-stop shop for our basic nutritional needs. “Seaweed is an excellent source of dietary fiber and minerals,” said Mary Ellen Kamer, professor of food sciences and human nutrition at the University of Maine.
“Seaweed has this ability to concentrate all the trace minerals in the ocean that we don’t have access to,” Redmond said. “It’s kind of a balanced food so we can get some of these trace elements back into our bodies and into our diets.”
And when used as fertilizer for wild farming, seaweed can add those essential nutrients to the soil, improving its health.
However, you do not need to pile the algae in large quantities of seaweed because it can absorb large amounts of minerals. “Some brown kelp, such as kelp grown in New England, is high in iodine,” Kamer said. “They have so much iodine that consumers are advised to take it no more than three times a week.”
Since the concentration of specific nutrients in seaweed can interact with many medications, consult your doctor if you suffer from a thyroid condition or take blood thinners before embarking on treatment.
Even better: seaweed requires no fertilizers or pesticides to grow in the ocean, whether it’s farmed there or wild-harvested.
How to add seaweed to your daily meals
Well, by now you may be convinced that seaweed is worth sampling. But there is no need to search for it – this is not what you want. Make sure the seaweed products you get are certified organic or have been tested for heavy metal content, Kamer said, because “some types of seaweed are likely to contain heavy metals like cadmium, lead, and arsenic.”
Other than eating plenty of temaki rolls and packaged seaweed snacks or adding more nori sheets to your ramen, there are several ways to incorporate edible seaweed into your meal routine.
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