As the new year approaches, people are once again considering how they can live a healthier life in 2018. For many, that means eating better; more specifically, getting more nutritious vegetables into their diets. While most vegetables will give you the nutrition you need, many health-savvy professionals know to look to the sea to get the most nutritious vegetables. Before reaching for another head of lettuce as part of your healthy eating plan, check out why sea vegetables and seaweeds are a good choice for healthy eating.
Why you should be eating seaweed and sea vegetables
It’s no secret that sea vegetables and seaweeds offer a huge nutrition boost to your diet. Certain seaweed varieties are some of the most nutritionally dense plants you can consume. They are the most abundant sources of minerals in the plant kingdom because they have access to all 92 minerals needed for nutrition in the ocean. Seaweeds have an amazing ability to accumulate minerals, becoming increasingly rich in sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chlorine, iron, sulfur, copper, manganese, cobalt, bromine, iodine, and many naturally occurring vitamins, including A and C. In addition, seaweeds utilize nitrogen from the air to synthesize complete proteins. Sea vegetables offer similar dietary value and offer unique options for many culinary dishes, including soups, stews and salads.
Know your seaweeds and sea vegetables
Vegetarian Times offers some great tips on how to use certain seaweeds and sea vegetables in your favorite dishes. Here are a few ideas, as well as a brief description of what each item is:
Wide strips or sheets of dried sea kelp, kombu adds depth of flavor to slow-cooked dishes.
To prepare: No need to soak; you can add directly to hot cooking liquids for flavor.
How to use: Best used for flavoring broths and soups. Be sure to remove before serving.
Hijiki is bolder in flavor, with anise-like undertones.
To prepare: Soak 10 minutes in cold water; drain and rinse well.
How to use: Great for cooking; can be used to flavor root vegetables, mushrooms, and beans.
Thin, dark green or brown sheets traditionally used to wrap sushi. It’s typically sold toasted or raw.
To prepare: No soaking required; avoid cooking—nori quickly disintegrates.
How to use: Cut into strips to garnish dips, hummus, soups, salads, stews, rice, or vegetables.
Red leaves or flakes with a salty, earthy taste.
To prepare:Soak 10 minutes in hot or cold water; drain, and rinse.
How to use: Perfect for soups, stews, and sauces. It can be used to replace hijiki or wakame.
A great source of iodine
Seaweed has high iodine content. Iodine is needed for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland, which is critical to a healthy metabolism by controlling how quickly the body uses energy and makes proteins, as well as controlling the body’s usage of other hormones. For many people, incorporating more sea vegetables and seaweed into their diets protects them from iodine deficiencies.
Fresh seaweed and vegetables vs. supplements
While taking a high quality seaweed supplement may not offer the fiber found in seaweeds and sea vegetables, for many people, it’s the best option to get these healthy foods into their diets. Preparing seaweeds and sea vegetables for consumption can be time-consuming, and the shelf-life, not to mention the availability of several of these items, is quite limited. By taking a seaweed supplement, health-conscious people can gain the benefits of sea vegetables in a much more convenient fashion. Look for seaweed supplements that incorporate whole foods into their product, and use a variety of seaweeds and sea vegetables to gain the most healthy benefits.
To get healthier in 2018, look to the sea to get the most nutritious vegetables, or look to a reputable seaweed supplement source and start the new year on a healthy path!