Up Your Green Intake with Anti-Inflammatory Seaweed

We all want to eat more greens, right? I know I work hard to heap my plate with soil-nourished plants like kale, lettuce and broccoli. But our collective definition of ’greens’ and ‘veggies’ often neglects an entire ocean of nutritious plant power—seaweed.

A shelf-stable, sustainable plant food, seaweed offers loads of nutritious benefits that land plants simply cannot. In fact, it is among the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.

Most people are aware of seaweed’s uniquely high iodine levels, but you may not realize how important iodine actually is to our bodies. Absent from nearly every other food, iodine is critical for healthy thyroid function and hormone regulation. Without it, muscle weakness, depression and goiters can result. (Then again, too much of it can cause issues, too, so be smart.)

Seaweed is also highly anti-inflammatory and a potent source of antioxidants. The dense quantity of chlorophyll in seaweed helps to neutralize toxins and flush them out of the body. Seaweed also exhibits astounding antiviral and anticancer properties in studies.

For those concerned with hormonal balance, seaweed may also help to regulate excess estrogen levels in the body, which is highly relevant due to the increasing presence of environmental xenoestrogens that can throw hormone balance out of whack and promote hormone-related disease.

Suffice to say, seaweed is a powerful food for your health, but odds are it may seem a little foreign to your diet. Unless you grew up eating a lot of Asian cuisine, you may not even know where to start. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. There are seemingly endless varieties of seaweed, but the most popular are:

Nori. You may be most familiar with this seaweed, as it is that glorious wrapping that delicately caresses your favorite sushi. This is the easiest type of seaweed to find. It comes in packages of sheets, sometimes roasted. It is high in iodine, vitamin B12 and trace minerals.

Kombu. Otherwise called kelp, kombu is another popular choice that dominates seaweed salads. I’ve used kelp noodles as a pasta alternative, and they are incredibly refreshing and tasty. Look for them at your local Asian market, or find them online.

Arame. This brown seaweed must be soaked before being added to food. It has a mild sweet flavor and works great in stir frys (or perhaps an Asian-inspired slaw). This variety is rich in vitamins A and K, calcium, iron, manganese, potassium and lignans.

Dulse. Consume this raw and unsoaked or cooked, depending on your preference. This red seaweed is often used in flake form as a unique, salty seasoning. For those concerned about osteoporosis and joint health, dulse contains high amounts of calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron. 

Hijiki. Retaining most of its nutrient content when dried, hijiki can be rehydrated and added to soups and stir frys with ease. It is high in vitamin K, magnesium, calcium and iron, and its high fiber content helps to cleanse the digestive system.

Spirulina. This green algae powder is not technically seaweed, but seaweed is a member of the algae family, so worth discussing. Spirulina is incredibly 70 percent protein as well as a rich source of B12, making it an important dietary addition for vegans and vegetarians. Scoop a little into fruit smoothies for an extra green energy boost.

Be aware that you can eat too much seaweed. Being so nutrient dense, you can easily overdo it, especially if you have a disease or condition. For instance, 2 tablespoons of dulse contains enough potassium to potentially cause concerns for those with kidney problems, although it is rare. So, exercise caution and moderation, as you would with any new food, and consult your doctor if necessary.

In terms of a general diet, seaweed can provide the body with many hard-to-find nutrients and minerals along with plenty of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activity. It’s fairly easy to find roasted nori strips in the aisles of your local health food store, but you can take it further. Try our recipe for a simple cucumber seaweed salad to start, and let your creativity grow from there.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy seaweed? Share below!

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62 comments

Jerome S
Jerome S14 days ago

thanks

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Jim V
Jim Ven14 days ago

thanks for sharing.

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Richelle R
Richelle R2 months ago

Love seaweed. Can't make good miso soup without it

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

These items aren't sold in our town but Vancouver has large Asian stores. I've tried a few and enjoyed what I tried...

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Diana D
Diana D2 months ago

Good article! I know seaweed is healthy but I never think of it except for spirulina. Thanks for sharing!

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Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook2 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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Telica R
Telica R2 months ago

Thank you for caring and sharing

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Chad A
Chad Anderson2 months ago

I really enjoy some seaweed, but there are varieties and means of preparing that I cannot stomach.

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Virginia B
Virginia B2 months ago

I love all kinds of seaweed, but I wonder if I might be consuming too much salt, because most of the edible seaweed, with which I am familiar is naturally quite salty.

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rosario p
rosario p.2 months ago

I really hope this made help a little more to this article.

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