Could sea vegetables be the missing superfood in your healthy diet? Although they’re a staple food in countries such as Japan, we still eat relatively little of them in the UK. But sea vegetables – also known as seaweeds – are especially nutrient-dense and are a valuable source of the vital mineral iodine, which is often lacking elsewhere in our diets. So, perhaps we should all be noshing on sea veg!
Here are seven potential benefits of getting more seaweed into your life.
Our body needs more than just calories for energy – it also requires a whole host of vitamins and minerals to convert those calories into energy. This is what makes seaweed an energy superstar: although it’s actually low in calories, it’s rich in some of these energy-giving minerals – particularly iodine. Iodine helps make thyroid hormone, which drives our metabolism – how quickly and easily our body converts food to energy. Magnesium, calcium, iron, vitamin C and B2 also feature in seaweed’s energy nutrient line up.
Seaweed could be your new best friend for that trim waistline too. Iodine is the key player again, because a healthy thyroid and healthy metabolism also mean we burn calories at a normal rate. And that’s not all: seaweed is also high in filling fibre, low in calories, yet rich in nutrients – perfect as part of a healthy approach to weight management.
Ease your joints
Substances called fucoidans in sea vegetables have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties1. Although inflammation is a normal and vital process in the body, too much of it can result in a variety of health problems, with the most obvious being joint aches and pains. Anti-inflammatory nutrients in our food can help calm that excess inflammation, easing joints and helping us stay active!
Healthy heart and circulation
Those fucoidans in seaweed may also have anticoagulant properties2. This means helping to keep the blood thin and prevent clots. Animal studies have also indicated fucoidans could help lower cholesterol3. Great news for our hearts!
Protect your skin
Seaweed could even help keep your skin glowing and young-looking. Its star nutrient – iodine – is vital for healthy skin. Sea veg is also rich in antioxidant compounds, including unique compounds called alkaloids, carotenoids like those found in orange and green vegetables, and vitamins and minerals with antioxidant roles including zinc, manganese and vitamin C. Antioxidants have a protective role in our body, including the skin – helping to counteract changes that can lead to premature ageing.
Boost your brain
Iodine is a vital mineral for cognitive function too. This basically means all processes of the brain that allow us to gain and retain knowledge – including learning, memory, reasoning and language. So, seaweed, as our best natural source of iodine, could help us stay ‘on the ball’ both now and as we get older.
The fucoidans in sea vegetables could have benefits for our immune system. They’ve been found to encourage the immune response to help fight against infections – especially certain viruses. Fucoidans may have anti-tumour activity too.41. Fernando IP et al. Potential anti-inflammatory natural products from marine algae. Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2016 Dec;48:22-30 2. Zhu Z et al. Higher specificity of the activity of low molecular weight fucoidan for thrombin-induced platelet aggregation. Thromb Res. 2010 May;125(5):419-26. 3. Cuong HD et al. Structure and hypolipidaemic activity of fucoidan extracted from brown seaweed Sargassum henslowianum. Nat Prod Res. 2015;29(5):411-5. 4. Jin JO et al. Fucoidan can function as an adjuvant in vivo to enhance dendritic cell maturation and function and promote antigen-specific T cell immune responses. PLoS One. 2014 Jun 9;9(6):e99396.
Try the new Clearspring Seaveg Crispies™ Range! The brand has added two new members; with the introduction of Ginger and Turmeric flavour. For those not familiar, in short, they’re a tasty, nutritious and convenient toasted nori snack! At only 18 calories per pack, they are also organic, Vegan, gluten free and high in fibre.