Seaweed: Jewels of the Sea

In a previous post I mentioned Sea Vegetables, known as seaweed,  for their alkalizing properties.  I felt it worthwhile to expand on the subject of sea veggies as I consider them a “superfood” in terms of their nutritional properties and also a wonderful addition to your culinary repertoire.

There are so many health benefits to sea vegetables.  I’ve listed a few of these below.

seaweed

 

The following are just some of the wonderful health benefits of sea vegetables

  • Seaweed in general is highly alkalizing, which makes it invaluable to balance the effects of an overly acidic diet of meat, grains and dairy products.
  • Seaweed is said to have the ability to rid the body of metals and radioactive residue, so it’s good to have after being exposed to radiation from X-rays or air travel.
  • All seaweed contains iodine, which is necessary for thyroid function. The thyroid controls metabolism, so seaweed can help with weight issues, which are often the result of an underactive thyroid. If a person has a overactive thyroid, it may be best to avoid eating seaweed, because of it’s stimulating effect on the thyroid.
  • Seaweed is one of the most mineral-rich foods on the planet, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean, which are the same minerals in human blood. They’re also rich sources of calcium, magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin K and fiber. Sea vegetables, particularly dulse, are also high in iron, which makes it an excellent blood tonic.
  • Because of its magnesium content, seaweed can help restore normal sleep patterns and can be beneficial for women who may be experiencing sleep disruption during menopause.
  • Sea vegetables contain phytonutrients called lingans, plant compounds that have anti-carcinogenic properties and can inhibit tumor growth.
  • Sea vegetables are a good natural source of sea salt and can be used in place of salt in some dishes.

There are many types of seaweed, each with distinct uses and benefits:

Kombu 
Also known as kelp, kombu is commonly used in Japan for making dashi broth, which is a stock used as a base for many traditional Japanese dishes. It can also be added to beans while cooking , as it makes them more digestible, less gassy and helps them cook more quickly.

Wakame Wakame is most commonly used as an ingredient in miso soup. It swells up significantly when soaked in water and cooked, so a little goes a long way.Wakame can also be soaked and used in salads, combined with cucumber and an Asian dressing made with tamari, brown rice vinegar, mirin and a little toasted sesame oil.

seaweed wrapNori Nori is mostly used for wrapping rice and other ingredients to make sushi rolls or hand rolls. It can also be cut up into tiny strips and added to soups and casseroles or sprinkled on rice and other grains. Nori also makes a great Band-Aid if you get a cut in the kitchen! Just wrap a strip of nori around the cut, and it will seal it. The minerals in the seaweed will help to heal the cut.

 

Dulse Dulse is one of my favorite sea veggies. It is red in color and requires little or no cooking. I love to add it to soups, stews or casseroles, serve in a salad or simply munch on it for a nutritious snack. For a special treat, flash-fry dulse pieces in hot oil. Remove quickly and drain on paper towel—now you have delicious seaweed crisps.

Arame Arame is one of the most mineral-rich sea veggies. It looks like black hair and, coincidentally, is said to be extremely nourishing for your locks. It also has a balancing effect on the hormonal system and is particularly beneficial for the thyroid. Arame is mostly served as a side dish, with onion, carrot or other veggies added. It can be soaked and added into salads.

Hiziki Hiziki is much like arame but is harder and has a thicker texture, so it requires longer soaking and cooking. It is also mineral-rich, very high in calcium, 10x the amount than milk, and iron, an excellent blood tonic and good for hair and hormonal balance. It is recommended to strengthen the kidneys and is cooked much like arame.

Agar Agar Agar agar is a natural gelatin from the sea and can be used in place of gelatin in recipes. It is high in fiber and is also a good source of calcium. Agar agar is used to make a dessert called Kanten, in which it is simmered in fruit juice (about 1 tablespoon agar agar flakes to 1 cup juice) and poured over cut-up fresh fruit or berries, left to set. Just avoid using agar agar with citrus fruits, as this will negate the gelling action. It can then be pureed or served as is. I like to pour it into individual serving glasses and let it set in the glasses and top with a dollop of cashew cream or natural Greek-style yogurt.

Sea vegetables will store indefinitely if kept in airtight containers away from direct sunlight. Their salt content acts as a preservative. They can also be sealed and refrigerated for longer shelf life.

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