6 Sea Vegetables for Optimum Health
Minerals are essential for optimum health. Due to the Standard American Diet, many of us are lacking in these vital nutrients. Eating too many processed foods or foods grown in mineral-depleted soils can result in a lack of minerals in the body which can lead to an onslaught of health problems as well as food cravings. Minerals help to regulate a variety of processes in the body including helping to create enzymes, hormones, skeletal bones, skeletal tissues, teeth and fluids. Calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, sodium, potassium, magnesium, fluoride, sulfur, copper, and chloride are examples of some of the most prevalent minerals you may be lacking.
Whenever possible, it is always best to get your vitamins and minerals from actual food. As one of the most nutritious foods on this planet, sea vegetables contain all of the minerals needed for optimum health. Sea vegetables offer your body 10-20 times the minerals of land plants, plus the added benefit of a range of vitamins. By adding sea vegetables to your diet, you can help your body meet its nutritional needs naturally. In traditional Chinese healing, sea vegetables correspond to the winter season and to the kidneys, adrenal glands, bladder and reproductive organs. The strengthening, balancing and cleansing properties of sea vegetables are known to help these organs. There is a great deal of documentation on the health benefits and medicinal properties of sea veggies. They are known to reduce blood cholesterol, remove metallic and radioactive elements from the body, contain antibiotic properties, counteract obesity, strengthen bones, teeth, hair and nails, aid nerve transmission, improve digestion, soften hard masses, tumors and fibroid tumors, and are credited with anti-aging properties.
How can you get more sea vegetables into your diet?
Sea veggies are highly versatile foods, which can be easily incorporated into many dishes such as soups, salads, stir-fries and desserts. Top-quality sea vegetables are grown wild and harvested from clean coastal areas. A second option is to use the high-quality brands found in health food stores. You can also find commercially harvested seaweeds in Asian markets. Here are some examples.
Arame: soak 5 minutes, simmer 5-10 minutes. With its sweet, mild taste, it is delicious sauteed alone or with land vegetables. Also good added cold to salad, rice, or freshly chopped veggies with a vinaigrette dressing.
Dulse: does not require cooking. Try using dulse flakes as a condiment. Easily sprinkled on top of soups, salads and veggies. It’s especially great on potatoes and corn dishes. Slightly salty and smoky in flavor, it is a nutritious alternative to salt for those on low or no salt diets.
Hijiki: rinse, then soak 20 minutes, rinse again; or can be simmered for 30 minutes to 1 hour; expands over 4 times when soaked. One of the most mineral rich of all sea vegetables, high calcium and protein, it tastes great flavored with toasted sesame oil, cider vinegar and tamari. Add to noodle dishes or stir-fry with tofu, carrots and onions.
Kelp: use as a salt substitute or condiment in powder form. High in calcium and iodine, it acts as a natural tenderizer when added to beans and stews.
Kombu: best used in slow-cooking soups, beans and stews, to both flavor and tenderize. Add a whole piece about 2 to 4 inches long, remove once tender, chop up and place back in the dish. Can become bitter if rapidly boiled for any length of time.
Wakame: soak 5 minutes before using, then rinse; or add directly to soups without soaking. This is the seaweed most often added to miso soup. With its sweet flavor, it also makes a great cold salad.
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