Seaweed and their numerous health benefits

sushi shop sushiYou’ve likely chewed on seaweed wrapped around a sushi roll, but few Westerners would consider picking up a bag of the stuff at the grocery store. It might be time for a change: Seaweed is filled with antioxidants, calcium and a broad range of vitamins.

A member of the algae family, edible seaweed typically comes in three varieties: brown, red and green. The most commonly eaten (and researched) are the brown varieties such as kelp and wakame, followed by red seaweed, which includes nori (yep — that’s what most sushi chefs use).

Seaweed-based cuisine has a proud history in many Asian countries. In a restaurant, you’re most likely to consume seaweed in salads, simmered into miso soup, or wrapped around a sushi roll.

Seaweed’s best-known benefit is that it is an extraordinary source of a nutrient missing in almost every other food: iodine. Consuming healthy levels of iodine is critically to maintaining a healthy thyroid, a gland in your neck which helps produce and regulate hormones. 

The benefits of this sea green extend far beyond basic nutrition: Research suggests seaweed can also help regulate estrogen and estradiol levels — two hormones responsible for proper development and function of sexual organs — potentially reducing the risk of breast cancer. In fact, some claim Japan’s high seaweed consumption is responsible for the country’s conspicuously low incidence of the diseases. For the same reasons, seaweed may also help to control PMS (men, rejoice!) and improve female fertility issues.

And many studies have shown seaweed is an extraordinarily potent source of antioxidants and also helps prevent inflammation, which can contribute to a host of ailments that include arthritis, celiac disease, asthma, depression and obesity .