So, you’re walking on the beach and see a bed of seaweed. Your first thought is Yum, or maybe not.  Well if you’re into food that carries anti-aging, and weight-loss properties as well as other nutritional benefits, perhaps a new attitude is in order.  There are multiple types of seaweed which are not actually a weed.  The sea “vegetables” eaten for thousands of years by our ancestors can be found all over the world in nutrient-dense ocean waters.

Here are eight sea vegetables that are mineral-rich, meets daily vitamin requirements, prevents chronic disease, lowers cholesterol, detoxifies and combats constipation.

Kelp – is the product of one of the most productive ecosystems on the planet.  Kelp contains 70 vitamins, proteins, and minerals. It contains vitamins A, B1, B12, B2, calcium, iron, potassium, iodine, and magnesium.  It is the only natural source of vitamin D.   Kelp harvested from the oceans around North West United States, Canada, Hawaii, and Iceland are considered safe to consume.  The easiest way to begin eating kelp is to add it in its dried form to soups and salads.

Kombu – is another edible kelp; a small salty amount, (pre-soaked for about twenty minutes) in a pot of beans goes a long way in reducing the byproduct of gas.  It is the most abundant source of iodine of all the sea vegetables.  Iodine is a nutrient so crucial for a healthy thyroid and rarely found in other foods.  However, and because of its high concentration of iodine, it is advised to consume organic kombu in minimal amounts.

Nori – that little piece of Nori wrapped around your sushi roll is made from a combination of several red algae’s, which are shredded and dried into sheets.  Nori helps curb cholesterol deposits in blood vessels and is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, and niacin. One layer is ten calories and contains as much fiber as a cup of spinach, and it has more omega three fatty acids than a cup of avocado.  In contrast, an avocado contains 368 calories.  The Japanese eat more Nori than any other group of people; their obesity rate is ten times less than in the US.   Nori is such a significant staple of the Asian diet that 230 square miles of sea off the coast of Japan is used in producing 350,000 tons annually.

Arame – Its long brown strands are known as the “sweet” seaweed due to its mild flavor.  It is grown off the coast of Japan in Ise Bay, as well as South Korea.  Arame is a good source of fiber, vitamin A, potassium, calcium, and iodine.  It is low in sodium, and fat-free.  Soak Arame for 15 minutes then use it in a salad, stir-fry or mix in a quiche.

Dulse – is a red sea vegetable resembling lettuce.   It has more fiber and protein than its cousins. It is found on the Northern coasts of our oceans.  It is a wealth of minerals including potassium, magnesium, iron, and calcium.  Dulse is high in the vitamins A and C.  Many of the vitamins and minerals found in dulse aid in digestion, eye health, reduce osteoporosis risk and provide antioxidant support against free radicals.  Dulse can be used as a snack, or to flavor salads and soups.  Due to its high iodine content, it should be consumed in moderation.

Wakami – is a fast-growing, sea vegetable that can grow as much as an inch per day.  Wakami contains fucoxanthin, a rare compound which promotes fat burning, inhibits the accumulation of fat in the cells and promotes fat oxidation. Fucoxanthin also stimulates the liver to produce DHA, a fatty acid known to decrease LDL (bad) cholesterol Due to its small amounts of carbohydrates and fats, Wakami promotes a feeling of fullness which can lead to reduced appetite.  It is rich in vitamins B2, A, C, D, E, K, and the minerals, potassium, calcium, zinc, sodium, phosphorus and iodine, as well as omega three fatty acids.  Wakami produces vitamin B9, also known as folate, an essential vitamin during pregnancy, which helps to reduce the risks of neural tube defects in newborns.  It’s easy to use Wakami if bought in its dry form and soaked for about ten minutes before using it in soups, and salads.  It can be used as a snack, and in sushi rolls.

Sea Palm – grows on the rocky shores of the Pacific Ocean in North America. This palm tree look-alike is erect standing and thrives in heavy surf.  Sea Palm is low in calories and fat.  It is high in iron, iodine, calcium and fiber as well as A, C, E, and the B vitamins. Sea Palm has anti-aging qualities that help maximize the body’s metabolism.  The potassium found in Sea Palm helps stabilize normal blood pressure.  Because of its sweet-salty taste, it goes well with rice, salad and vegetable dishes.

Agar Agar – is carbohydrate extracted from red algae harvested in eastern Asia and California.  It has no flavor, odor, color, calories, sugar or fat.  Agar Agar is a good source of calcium, fiber, and iron.  It is known for its digestive ability and can act as a mild laxative.  It works in the digestion process by absorbing glucose in the stomach, passes through the digestive system quickly and inhibits the body from retaining and storing excess fat. Agar Agar is used in pies, custards, jams, jellies, and puddings as a thickening agent.   It is a favored substitute for gelatin because it sets more firmly than gelatin and stays firm even in high temperatures.

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