The term “superfood” has become a bit of a buzzword, it’s true, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t foods out there that are worthy of the name. Seaweed is one food that is deserving of the superfood moniker both for its nutritional value and sheer versatility. Whether you have it sliced and boiled as a fine accompaniment to a lobster dinner, or as trendy gluten-free seaweed crackers as an excellent snack, or even dried and crumpled over food as a fantastic seasoning — seaweed can do it all.
Seaweed comes in many types, the most common forms used in cookery being wakame, dulse, kombu, kelp, nori and arame, among others. But what is it about seaweed that makes it so special? What qualities does seaweed possess that make it worthy of that superfood title?
1. Nutritional Value
The first thing one needs to note with seaweed is its very strong nutritional value. The concentration of vitamins (A, B1, B2, C, E, and K), minerals (calcium, folate, potassium, iron and others), fiber, omega 3 and antioxidants in this affordable and abundant ingredient make it more than worthy of being called a superfood. It’s a cheap and easy way to add all these things to your diet to make it healthier and more balanced by simply incorporating more seaweed into your food, either hot or cold.
Whereas some healthy additives to food can be costly, seaweed is not among them in most markets. If you live by the sea, you might even be able to go down to a beach and collect dried seaweed that’s washed up on shore for free. For many, therefore, it’s the most affordable health additive you can get.
2. Other Health Benefits
Besides the added nutrition contributing to a healthier diet, seaweed is also thought to improve thyroid and gut health. If you’re worried about experiencing an iodine deficiency and getting a goiter or some other thyroid problem, then seaweed can be of great help to you. Its natural iodine content is very strong, making it one of the best sources readily available on the market. Just 10 grams of dried nori seaweed can give up to 232 mcg of iodine, which is more than 1.5 times the daily minimum you need each day.
As for gut health, seaweed is rich in carrageenans, agars, and fucoidans, all of which serve a function as non-digestible fiber that provide food for the good bacteria in your gut. These good bacteria are also enriched by the sulfated polysaccharides that are found in seaweed, replenishing their population and enhancing your digestion.
Seaweed is also a superfood because of the sheer number of ways that it can be used. It can be eaten raw in salads with minimum preparation beyond chopping, slicing or tearing. Nori seaweed is used in a lot of Korean and Japanese dishes, most notably sushi and bibimbap, and is a common and popular snack in its dried form. You can also crush nori in your hand and sprinkle it on rice, potatoes, and other starches as a delicious and affordable seasoning.
Other ideas include seaweed and tofu soup, a popular dish in China, not to mention it being used in a huge range of snacks, including potato chips, crackers and other things. It’s a great flavour enhancer and enricher, and responds well to all sorts of cooking methods – boiling, frying, roasting and more.
Get Seaweed Into Your Life
It’s easier than you know to start bringing seaweed into your diet. Ensure that the seaweed you are using is organic and comes from clean and unpolluted waters. This ensures maximum retention of beneficial nutrients and an absence of potentially harmful ones.