The Nutrient Rich Power of Seaweeds
Whether you are thinking of seaweed, sea vegetables, sea greens or marine algae, plants from the ocean offer an incredible potential for bringing nutrition, health and healing to your life. Sea vetetables are one of the oldest living species on Earth. Seaweeds were used in China as long ago as 300 BCE and some reports describe usage as early as 2700 BCE. In the ancient Orient, seaweed was revered, offered to the gods and adorned 10,000 year old Japanese burial grounds.
In addition to China and Japan, seaweed has been a part of the traditional diet of all coastal cultures including the people of Korea, Iceland, Denmark, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Hawaii and the South Pacific Islands, not to mention all of those people who had trading contracts with coastal cultures. More recently, sea vegetables have begun to show up in the Western diet. This is do in large part to the rise in the number of Sushi restaurants and a growing interest in consuming healthier food.
From the beginning, seaweed has been used to treat and heal almost all body systems including the respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems. This nourishing “weed” has been used to increase longevity, enhance immune function, and revitalize the nervous system.
- Provides the most complete range of minerals of any food, particularly iodine, magnesium, vitamin K, calcium, iron, and B-vitamins riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and folate.
- Contains virtually all of the minerals of the ocean that, in very similar concentrations, are also found in human blood.
- Is an excellent source of lignan, a plant compound with anti-carcinogenic properties.
- Has been shown to remove radioactive strontium as well as other heavy metal toxins from the body.
- Promotes overall optimum health, including healthy thyroid function, prevention of cardiovascular disease, protection against birth defects, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Balances acidity in the body, as seaweeds are highly alkaline.
- Are very filling and satisfying, which aid in natural appetite suppression, balances daily dietary intake, and assists the body with weight loss efforts.
- With daily intake will naturally result in all of the fantastic fringe benefits of beautiful hair, skin, and nails.
Although some sea vegetables are cultivated, most are collected in the wild. Not all are available in raw form, such as arame or hijiki, that must be steamed to be tenderized before finally drying. But this should be not an obstacle to the dense, nutritional benefits.
Arame: A cold water, brown algae that is cultivated off the coast of environmentally protected Ise, Japan. It is the most mild tasting of all the sea vegetables and makes it a great beginner product. It takes only minutes to reconstitute and is excellent in salads. Arame is rich in fiber, vitamin A, calcium, and magnesium.
Wakame/Alaria: These dark, greenish-brown plants are similar in character, but wakame is a Japanese variety that is often cooked before being dehydrated. Alaria is grown wild in the Atlantic and is sun-dried in its natural state, making it a better choice for raw. It is extremely high in both dietary and soluble fiber, chlorophyll, enzymes, beta carotene, B-vitamins, calcium, iodine, iron, protein, and many other vitamins and minerals.
Dulse: Another naturally dried, enzyme active plant that is incredibly high in nutrients. This reddish plant has a very chewy texture, and rich, salty taste. It can be soaked to soften, or snipped into salads as-is. Some like to eat it as a snack right out of the bag.
Hijiki/Hiziki: Dark-brown to black in color, similar to arame in appearance and cooking/dehydrating processes, it grows wild in the pristine, coastal arctic currents off the coast of Japan. Many sushi bars serve a very processed version of hijiki as an alternative to the bright green mystery “seaweed salad”. It has a sweeter, more distinctive flavor than any other sea vegetable and is also the highest in calcium.
Nori/Laver: Many of us know nori as the Japanese-originated thin sheets used to make maki rolls. Laver are the unsheeted whole, wild plants with a distinctive nutty flavor. Look for raw nori sheets (if the package doesn’t say raw, consider them steam dried) that are nearly black in color, and laver that has been dried at low temperatures and enzyme active. Both nori and laver are the highest in B-vitamins 1 (thiamin), 2 (riboflavin), 6, and 12, as well as vitamins C and E.
Kombu: Wild-harvested both in Japan and the north Atlantic, kombu has been commonly used in the macrobiotic diet to tenderize beans and brown rice during the cooking process, and render them more digestible. It is the most tough and chewy of the sea vegetables, therefore has to be soaked for a long period to tenderize. One of the most interesting uses for this seaweed is simmering it in a large pot of water for about 30-40 minutes, and then adding this water to your bath for a truly enriching seaweed treatment.
Irish Moss: A form of dulse that grows in the Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland. It is very diverse, as it can be used as a thickener, emulsifier, on the skin as a healing gel (when soaked and refrigerated), or eaten as a snack straight from the bag. It’s an excellent aid for preparing raw dishes that call for creaminess or thickening.
In this all-inclusive book, Cooksley explains in clear prose how to use seaweed, and why it works—in its medicinal, nutritional, and cosmetic applications. In addition, she offers fascinating information about humankind’s relationship with the sea and its mysterious underwater plants. Seaweed features recipes for delicious meals; do-it-yourself spa treatments and topical treatments for specific ills; advice on finding, storing, and using seaweed; and much more. This is a book for anyone interested in living a healthier life.