Here in America, our experience with seaweed doesn't go much further than sushi. Maybe you have a more adventurous palate and occasionally order the bright green seaweed salad as a side, but even in these cases, little is known by most people about the nutritional benefits of this food group. We would like to shed some light on this delicious and versatile plant in hopes you can find ways to include it in your daily meals.
The seaweed used in traditional sushi is called "Nori", and it is loaded with nutrients. This form of seaweed doesn't grow in sheets like you might be accustomed to seeing, but is pressed into this form to be used to hold in the contents of food- a la sushi!
The origins of consuming sea vegetables dates back to prehistoric times in Asian culture. This is why we find this ingredient almost exclusively in Asian markets and restaurants. As time goes on, we are beginning to see these vegetables becoming increasingly more available at health food stores and grocery stores in general. Since cuisine in America can be very culturally eclectic and since people are beginning to discover the benefits of consuming sea vegetables, their popularity is growing.
Seaweed Varieties & Nutritional Benefits
Sea vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. The most important and perhaps the most overlooked is the thyroid supporting mineral iodine. Iodized salt was introduced to the American diet in 1920 as a means to counter the deficiencies that were becoming more prevalent at the time and has often been looked at as a great remedy to this problem. The issue with this mineral being ingested solely in this form is the obvious, or maybe not so obvious high quantities of sodium needed to be consumed to get what you need. The easiest way around this dilemma is by incorporating sea vegetables into your diet. Sea veggies such as Kelp can contain so much iodine that only a small amount needs to be eaten to meet your daily needs.
There are many different species of sea vegetables to choose from when planning what to incorporate in your diet. We recommend trying as many as you can to find the flavor you prefer. Also, if you enjoy things like sushi and miso soup, you may be surprised to find that you are already meeting your nutritional needs! Here are some of the most popular sea veggies:
How to include These Ingredients If You Love The Taste
Seaweed salad can be absolutely delicious when paired with the right toppings. This dish serves as a wonderful side to just about every meal and will easily supply your body with ample amounts of iodine, as well as many other nutritional compounds.
Miso soup contains wakame, which provides a generous amount of calcium in addition to iodine and other nutrients. This is our personal favorite way to consume sea veggies! Try sipping miso soup in a cup on cold weather days to warm the soul!
If You Do Not Love The Taste
If you find the taste of sea vegetables repulsive, that's completely ok! There are very simple ways around this. The easiest way to incorporate this iodine powerhouse is by sprinkling a small amount of kelp or dulse flakes onto your food. We like using this supplement/ condiment in soups or stews, but since such a small amount is needed, it can be used on virtually anything. Small servings of sea veggies can also be incorporated in a regular homemade salad. Again, we can't stress this enough, such small amounts are needed to reach your daily requirements that the amount you will need to include to check your iodine box for the day will be virtually undetectable.
Incorporating more sea vegetables into your diet is a great way to switch up the flavor and bring more health-benefiting nutrients to the table. This is a food group we really enjoy and think you will too!