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Why Seaweed Is So Good – and Good for You Too

Seaweed is among the healthiest foods on the planet. A staple of various Asian cuisines since historic times, seaweed comes packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Whether it’s the nori that’s used to wrap your sushi roll or the wakame that was simmering in your miso soup, you’ve probably tried seaweed in one form or another. Following are a few reasons why you should consume this superfood.

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Seaweed Is Nutrient Dense and Low in Calories

Seaweed is packed with essential minerals from the sea such as vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. And at the same time, it’s low in calories. Seaweed, in dried form, is full of fiber as well; this helps improve the health of your digestive system by maintaining the right balance of microflora in your gut (aka good bacteria vs. bad bacteria).

Eating wakame seaweed is a great way to get a mineral boost. Meanwhile, purple seaweed is chock full of vitamin B complexes, especially folate. Simply add some wakame or nori into your soup or stir-fry next time you’re in the kitchen to create a nutrient-dense dish.

Seaweed Is a Great Source of Iodine

Another reason to consume seaweed is because it’s an amazing source of iodine, a trace mineral that’s missing in most of the other foods that we eat. Iodine’s important for the metabolism of our cells as well as maintaining good thyroid function. Iodine deficiency can lead to a malfunctioning thyroid gland and cause conditions like muscle cramping, fatigue or worse, goiters and impaired memory.

Seaweed Improves Heart Health

Research has shown that seaweed consumption is associated with a decrease in blood pressure and the risk of stroke in animals. Seaweed contains a large amount of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids and helps increase the “good” HDL cholesterol while reducing the “bad” LDL cholesterol.

In fact, one sheet of nori actually contains an equal amount of omega-3 fatty acids as is found in two avocados.  In addition, a study in Japan found that Okinawans, who have one of the highest life expectancies, consume a large amount of the sea vegetable and as a result have low cholesterol and low levels of homocysteine (a chemical that’s linked to heart disease).

With all that said, here’s a quick and easy seaweed salad to add to your cooking repertoire.

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Seaweed Salad

Serves 2

  • 1 oz dry seaweed of your choice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp raw sugar
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 scallion, finely chopped

Instructions:

  1. Soak dry seaweed in cold water for 5 to 10 minutes until tender.
  2. Whisk together rice vinegar, sesame oil, low-sodium soy sauce and sugar to make the dressing.
  3. Drain and thoroughly dry seaweed by squeezing out excess water.
  4. Toss with dressing and sesame seeds.
  5. Garnish with scallions and serve.

More recipes featuring seaweed:

What’s your favorite seaweed dish? Leave a comment and let us know.

Jason is Zipongo’s registered dietitian and Director of Nutrition and Wellness. This blog was originally published on September 23, 2014. It was last updated on September 29, 2016.

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2 thoughts on “Why Seaweed Is So Good – and Good for You Too

  1. Great post! Because of our other common sources of dietary iodine, such as salt, milk, potatoes, and eggs, is there concern about iodine toxicity in the general public (versus a Japanese population) and if so, at what level?

    1. Thank you so much for your comment! The recommended minimum amount for iodine for an average US adult is 150 mcg and the tolerable upper limit is set at 1100 mcg. There isn’t really a concern about iodine toxicity because most common dietary iodine sources tend to contain less than 60 mcg of iodine and most Americans get a lot less than 800 mcg of iodine daily. Thanks again and please continue to support Zipongo!

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