when you think of healthy snacks, algae may not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, kelp, which refers to a variety of algae that grows in bodies of water, is highly nutritious, delicious, and versatile. Whether you’re eating some nori for a snack or enjoying a seaweed salad for lunch, this food can be a great addition to your diet and offer a variety of health benefits.
To learn all about this surprisingly nutrient-dense food, we talked to the nutritionist Lisa Richardscreator of The Candida Diet, dietitian sad better of Balance One Supplements and Registered Nurse Krista Elkins of the Health Channel. With his expert insight, we’ve put together a list of 8 incredible benefits of eating seaweed. Find it all below!
8 benefits of eating seaweed
Below, we’ll dive into some of the best health benefits of eating seaweed regularly.
1. Offers Antioxidants to Fight Disease
If you want to protect yourself from disease, one of the best things you can do is increase your intake of antioxidants–and it turns out seaweed is a great source. “Seaweeds are rich in antioxidants, which makes them useful for protecting and reversing oxidative damage to cells,” explains Richards. “This characteristic of seaweed makes it a great addition to a health regimen that focuses on combating chronic disease.” Nice! Specific diseases that antioxidants help fight include heart disease, cancer, and more. In general, they protect your body from free radicals, which can lead to aging and disease, so adding antioxidants to your diet with nutrient-dense foods like seaweed is never a bad idea.
2. Lowers the risks of diabetes
Diabetes is a serious health risk for Americans. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent it by reducing your sugar in the blood. In fact, eating seaweed could be a great way to keep your blood sugar levels in check. “Fucoxanthin and alginate are compounds in seaweed that have been studied and have shown beneficial results in lowering a person’s blood sugar level, thereby reducing the risk of diabetes,” Elkins tells us. Best agrees, noting that “some promising studies show that certain nutrients in seaweed may help reduce diabetes risk by lowering blood glucose.” She goes on to say that this can not only help lower the risk of diabetes, but “it can also improve the health status of people with existing diabetes by balancing glucose levels.”
3. Supports gut health
gut health It’s all the rage these days, and for good reason! Our gut plays a role in virtually every area of our well-being, from digestion to mental health. There are many changes you can make to improve your gut health, and Richards says eating nutrient-dense foods like seaweed is one of them. “Gut health is related to overall health, and seaweed contains many nutrients to support good gut health,” she says. One of those nutrients is none other than the all-important fiber. “The fiber found in seaweed acts as a prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut and allows them to thrive,” she explains. And when balance is restored to your gut microbiome, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier body. Score!
4. Helps lose weight
Eating high levels of fiber can do more for your body than just improve digestion. It turns out that eating large amounts of this essential nutrient can do wonders for your body, especially if you’re trying to lose weight, which is part of the reason why seaweed is a great addition to any weight loss diet. As Richards explains, “The fiber content in seaweed may also aid in weight loss by reducing cravings and the potential for overeating.” But it’s not just the fiber in seaweed that can help you reach your goal weight. He tells us that it “also contains a compound called fucoxanthin that some studies have shown can reduce body fat.”
5. Improves heart health
Seaweed’s high fiber content also offers another health benefit: It can lower cholesterol and protect you from heart disease. According to Today’s medical newsSoluble fibers can bind to bile acids and salts in your body and, in turn, lower cholesterol by using it to replace these elements. health line He also points out that regular consumption of seaweed can help prevent blood clotting (another major cause of heart disease) thanks to carbohydrates called fucans. A study it even showed that seaweed can be just as effective at preventing clots as certain medications. Plus, as mentioned above, seaweed offers a host of heart-healthy antioxidants.
6. Improves thyroid function
Thanks to the high iodine content of many types of seaweed (especially seaweed), regular consumption of this food may also help improve your thyroid function, according to Healthline. What exactly does your thyroid do? This important gland affects a variety of factors such as energy and cell repair; If your thyroid isn’t working properly, you may find yourself with unwanted weight gain, fatigue, and more. Making sure you consume enough sources of iodine is a great way to keep things running smoothly and avoid these problems. Fortunately, seaweed absorbs iodine from the ocean, so incorporating it into your diet can make meeting your recommended daily intake a breeze.
7. Strengthens immunity
According to health linealgae can also help give your immune system a boost and protects you from certain infections. Although not much research has yet been done on this topic, certain studies seem promising. Possible benefits come from certain plant compounds found in seaweed that may have antioxidant, anti-allergenic, and disease-fighting properties that can help keep cells protected from viruses. Additionally, the gut health benefits offered by seaweed can help improve immune function, as our intestines play an important role in our immune system. Seaweed also contains vitamin C, zinc, iron, and manganese, all of which are known to boost immunity.
8. Build stronger bones
Milk and dairy products are not the only source of calcium! Best tells us that certain types of seaweed, like kelp, can be a great food when it comes to getting the necessary vitamins and minerals that promote stronger bones. “Kelp provides a rich source of bone-building minerals, including calcium, iron, magnesium, and phosphorus,” she says. In addition to these minerals, seaweed is rich in vitamin K, which she says “is a unique vitamin that is necessary for bone health.” In addition to building stronger muscles, vitamin K “decreases the risk of fractures in people with preexisting osteoporosis.” Another helpful compound in seaweed is fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide, which Best tells us “promotes the development of osteoblasts,” also known as the cells that form bone. So, you can swap your daily glass of milk for some seaweed!
How to prepare/eat seaweed
So now that you know all the amazing benefits of seaweed, how can you start harvesting it? Fortunately, there are many ways to include seaweed in your diet, especially when it comes to Asian cuisine. You can choose to have some roasted and salted seaweed as a crunchy snack; you can add it to miso soup; You can add seaweed snacks to a variety of dishes, such as cereal and noodle bowls. And of course eating sushi is always a great way to throw in some seaweed, along with other tasty vegetables. When in doubt, do some research on the recipes, but there really is no wrong way to eat it!
The bottom line
Overall, seaweed is a delicious and surprisingly nutrient-dense food with a host of health benefits. Whether you’re looking for a way to keep your heart healthy, boost your immunity, or just enjoy a salty snack without putting on a few extra pounds, adding it to your diet is always a great idea.