If you are running out of ideas when it comes to the vegetables that accompany your meal, then it’s time to explore what’s available “under the sea.” Sea vegetables are plentiful, flavorful, and chock full of terrific health benefits. Below are a few ideas for sea vegetables that can give your next meal a healthy kick.
Also known as laminaria, this lengthy sea veggie provides you with a host of vitamins: A, B, E, K, and even vitamin C. The protein in kelp is similar to animal protein – perfect for vegans looking to supplement their diets. Algin and carrageenan found in kelp are actually gels that that help with digestion and keep your gastrointestinal system healthy. Other kelp nutrition benefits include purifying the blood, relieving arthritis, and thyroid health.
This seaweed is 20% protein and contains vitamin A and carotene. High in fiber (40%), Hijiki also contains the highest percentage of calcium by weight – just 100g has 1400mg of calcium. Generally in dried form, Hijiki is soaked in water for 60 minutes before cooking or blanched for 5 minutes if you are in a hurry.
Rich in iodine, arame was commonly used by healers to reduce fibroids and helps to normalize symptoms associated with menopause. As a source of lignans, arame has been linked to a reduction in cancer risks. Other benefits of arame include improvements to hair and nails, including a glossier look and reduction in hair loss as well as strengthened nail beds.
This Japanese delicacy, also known as laminaria digitata or setchelli has been renowned for its nutritional value. Acting as a decongestant, Kombu also can help to reduce blood pressure and can reduce gas. Kombu is full of iodine, vitamins B, C, D, and E, as well as a ton of minerals like iron and zinc. High in protein, kombu also contains germanium, which acts to heal skin.
Cooking with Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables can be found health food stores, or in the ethnic food aisle of traditional grocery stores. You can add sea vegetables to sautéed dishes, stir frys, soups, salads, or noodle dishes. Just keep in mind that dried sea vegetables need to be soaked prior to adding to meals – so make sure you factor this time into your meal preparations. By adding sea vegetables you can add fiber, protein, and a variety of vitamins and minerals to every meal and reap the benefits. Photo:NOAA's National Ocean Service