The Health Benefits of Seaweed has been widely known since ancient times. The Romans used seaweed which was made into flour as a burning medicine and other medicinal ingredients.
In East Asia such as Japan and China, seaweed is commonly used for food processing. That’s why a lot of the food there comes from processed seaweed, such as onigiri and sushi.
Seaweed itself is included in the algae family, which are usually green, brown, and red algae. Not only does it have a unique taste, but the nutritional content of seaweed is also quite diverse.
What are the benefits of seaweed?
1. Supports thyroid function
The thyroid gland releases hormones to help control growth, energy production, reproduction, and repair of damaged cells in the body. The thyroid relies heavily on iodine to produce hormones. Without enough iodine, the body will experience symptoms such as weight change, fatigue, or neck swelling over time.
Within a day, the body receives at least 150 mg of iodine intake. Seaweed has the unique ability to absorb concentrated amounts of iodine from the ocean. The iodine content varies greatly depending on the type, depending on the location and cultivation method.
2. Rich in vitamins and minerals
Mixing seaweed in food preparations not only functions as a flavor and texture enhancer to make it more delicious but can also enrich nutritional intake. Every one tablespoon of dried seaweed flour or as much as 7 grams contains calories, 1.7 grams of carbohydrates, 0.5 grams of fat, and 0.3 grams of fiber.
In the same portion, there are riboflavin, iron, manganese, copper, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, zinc, sodium, calcium, and magnesium. The proteins present in some seaweeds, such as spirulina and chlorella, contain all of the essential amino acids. This means that the benefits of seaweed can help ensure the body gets a wide variety of amino acids.
Seaweed is also a good source of omega-3 fats and vitamin B12. In fact, in one study, dried green and purple seaweed contained large amounts of vitamin B12.
One of the benefits of seaweed is as a source of antioxidants to fight free radicals that cause various diseases. In addition, the excessive production of free radicals is considered to be the cause of several diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Apart from containing the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E, seaweed contains a wide variety of beneficial plant compounds, including flavonoids and carotenoids. The benefits of seaweed have been shown to protect body cells from free radical damage.
4. Great source of fiber
Intestinal bacteria play a very large role in the health of the body. It is thought that there are more bacterial cells in the body than human cells. This imbalance in the “good” and “bad” gut bacteria can lead to various diseases. Seaweed is an excellent source of fiber, which is known to promote gut health.
This fiber can account for about 25–75 percent of the dry weight of seaweed. This is higher than the fiber content of most fruits and vegetables. Fiber can withstand digestion and is used as a food source for bacteria in the large intestine.
5. Lose weight
The benefits of seaweed are apparently very effective for weight loss efforts. Seaweed contains a lot of fiber which does not contain calories. The fiber in seaweed can also slow stomach emptying. This helps the body feel fuller for longer and can delay hunger pangs.
Seaweed is also thought to have anti-obesity effects. In particular, several animal studies have shown that a substance in seaweed called fucoxanthin can help reduce body fat.
6. Reducing the risk of heart attack
Factors that increase your risk of heart disease are high cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, and being overweight. Interestingly, seaweed can help reduce blood cholesterol levels. Heart disease can also be caused by excessive blood clotting. Seaweed contains carbohydrates called fucans, which can help prevent blood clots.
Researchers are also starting to find peptide-protein compounds in seaweed. Early studies in animals have shown that the structure of this protein can improve blood pressure in congested areas.
7. Reducing the risk of diabetes
The benefits of grass naturally can reduce the risk of diabetes. Diabetes is a very common health problem. An eight-week study in 60 Japanese people revealed that fucoxanthin, a substance in brown seaweed, can help improve blood sugar control.
What’s more, another substance in seaweed called alginate prevents blood sugar spikes in animals after being fed a high-sugar diet. It is thought that alginate can reduce the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.