Seaweed is algae from the sea, and it offers an abundance of nutritious benefits. All of the varieties of seaweed have long been used in Asian dishes and British and Icelandic people have supplemented their diets with whatever seaweeds they could harvest close by. As a dependable food source, various types of seaweed can be cooked, served in salads and incorporated into almost any cuisine.
Vitamins and Minerals
Seaweed contains concentrated amounts of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C and folic acid, with trace amounts of B12---but that's not all. According to Seibin and Teruko Arasaki, Vegetables from the Sea authors, "All of the minerals required by human beings, including calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron and zinc are present in sufficient amounts."
Types of Seaweed
Laver is a type of seaweed similar to the nori. Nori contains iron and is filled with protein. It also provides the B vitamins as well as A, C, potassium and magnesium. Dulse, reddish brown in color, was once a staple of Icelandic people and it is now considered a gourmet food. Dulse contains most of the vitamins as well as beta carotene, protein, magnesium and iron. It is used in many skin care products. A brown seaweed, kelp is used in many products. It contains large amounts of iodine and helps treat thyroid problems. Wakame is slippery and has a sweet taste. One of the Japanese soup dishes, miso, contains wakame. Less common types of seaweed include sea spaghetti, which can be used in place of pasta spaghetti, and sea lettuce, which looks similar to lettuce and can be used in salads. Sweet kelp is a health food that has known benefits for the endocrine system.
Seaweed and other sea vegetation helps rid the body of toxins. The alginic acid in sea vegetation binds with unwanted metals in the body and helps carry them through the intestines to be eliminated. Seaweed processed specifically for body cleansing can be found in capsule or drink form at health food stores.
Seaweed is found in many skin care products because of its ability to nourish all the different layers of the dermis as it penetrates the skin. It also helps pull toxins from the skin as it increases blood flow to the surface, leaving a healthier, more youthful glow.
Where to Find Seaweed
For people who don't have ready access to the sea or ocean, they will find seaweed at most health food stores. As it grows in popularity, more mainstream grocery stores offer it in their gourmet foods section.