Seaweeds (a.k.a sea vegetables) are an ancient food, and in many Asian communities, they have continued to be a core ingredient in daily meals. However, the West is only recently rediscovering the amazing benefits of seaweed.
Densely nutritious and cleansing
Many are aware that seaweeds offer what is arguably the best natural source of iodine, essential for thyroid health. However, seaweeds are literally bursting with all the nutrients which are readily available in our oceans – seaweeds are increasingly referred to as the ‘oceans’ superfoods’ – they taste ‘salty’ because of the abundance of minerals they contain (calcium, magnesium, potassium, etc…+60 of them!).
Seaweeds are also highly alkaline so help to balance our pH levels. They actively support our bodies to detox and cleanse in three simple ways:
- The high iodine content stimulates metabolism,
- Many seaweeds contain special co-factors that attract toxins and heavy metals in our guts and bind them,
- Seaweeds (especially the red seaweeds) have a gentle laxative effect helping the body to eliminate waste.
Amazing range of flavours
In the same way that carrots and broccoli have different flavours and offer different nutrients, but are both land vegetables, each sea vegetable offers a different flavour and range of nutrients. Generally, seaweeds add a lovely umami flavour to meals and can add depth and lovely texture to your meal, but each seaweed is unique. For example, Sea lettuce has a soft, sorrel like flavour, whereas Dulse is known as the ‘vegan bacon’ due to its naturally smoky flavour.
Carbon negative food
All seaweeds photosynthesise – it is said they are responsible for up to 70% of our planet’s oxygen. Additionally, they cleanse and neutralise the ocean.
All Pacific Harvest’s seaweeds are sustainably sourced, many from organically certified areas, and are tested for contaminants according to local Food Standard requirements.
How to incorporate
Here are a few suggestions on how to get the most out of seaweeds and how to gently incorporate them into your daily routine:
- Season with seaweed! If you are busy and don’t have much time to plan or prepare new recipes, seaweed seasonings are simply the best way to increase your seaweed intake. Just sprinkle seaweed flakes, or seaweed seasoning onto your salads, soups, stir fries, or use kelp as a salt replacement.
- Eat them raw! Cooking seaweed reduces its nutritional value because some nutrients (especially enzymes & some vitamins) are affected by heat. (For example, Nori fronds make an excellent raw snack and a good source of Vitamin B12).
There are a few exceptions to this such as Kombu, which is usually heated to make stock, kelp seasonings used to flavour and tenderise food whilst cooking, and Agar powder, which needs to be ‘melted’ in order to engage its ‘jellifying’ properties. Simply add seaweed at the end of your cooking or re-hydrate in tepid water just before you need to use them.
- Most seaweeds re-hydrate in minutes. Only thicker plants such as Kombu or Sea Spaghettirequire additional time – perhaps 30 minutes in tepid water.
- Seaweeds will expand about 5-10 times when you re-hydrate them, a little goes a long way so use sparingly while you are experimenting! Consume fairly soon after re-hydrating (as per packet instructions).
- The water you use to re-hydrate your seaweeds is highly nutritious- use in smoothies, soups, for a facial, or to water your house plants!
- You can change the taste of seaweedby soaking it in a flavoured liquid. The seaweed will pick up the flavour of whatever it is hydrating in, especially if you soak it for longer. Try soaking Sea Spaghetti in herbal tea before adding it to a summer salad.
- Seaweeds are hygroscopic – this means they will absorb moisturefrom surrounding ingredients. Keep them dry and away from direct sunlight and they will last for years! The complex salts that are part of their make-up act as natural preservatives and keep bugs & fungus away.
- Use as a salt replacement - salt cravings are often a sign your body needs more nutrients – seaweed is the perfect solution! All seaweeds have some amount of sodium but far less than salt so seaweed (like Kelp granules or powder) is an excellent salt replacement option. Seaweeds also contain potassium, which keeps the sodium content in balance.
However you use them, there is no doubt that incorporating a small amount of seaweed in your diet every day is good for you and good for our planet!
Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and should be verified by a qualified health practitioner for specific and individual needs & requirements.
-Article by Pacific Harvest