Seaweed: Superfood or Something Else?

Seaweed: Superfood or Something Else?

You can hear about it everywhere; seaweed has been gaining a lot of attention in recent years. What was once looked at by the West with great reservation is now acclaimed for its health qualities. The algae relative has been popular in far eastern cuisine for millennia, especially so in Japan, but does the slippery green food warrant the attention it has been getting?

While the mineral content in seaweed isn’t all that impressive, there are other nutrients, such as iodine, that it has in abundance. For this reason, there are even seaweed supplements on the market, though their safeness is no guarantee. In this article, we look into the potential health benefits that seaweed provides to determine if it’s worth all of the fuss.

What’s So Great About It?

Japan is often viewed as one of the healthiest countries in the world, and with the 3rd highest life expectancy, according to the CIA World Factbook, it’s easy to see why. Some scientists credit the relatively low rate of disease to the large role seaweed takes in the Japanese diet. The correlation here is because of the way that seaweed is able to regulate levels of the hormones estrogen and estradiol.

There’s no question, however, that the iodine levels in seaweed are a definite health benefit. Before it was universally added to salt in the 1993, there was a real risk of iodine deficiency worldwide. With salt going out of vogue for health concerns, it can be difficult to keep up levels of iodine necessary for thyroid health. A healthy thyroid means you can feel energized, be less susceptible to diseases, be at lower risk for depression, and lose weight easier. Luckily, seaweed can provide anywhere from 5 to 50 times the daily recommended amount of iodine to keep your thyroid healthy in just 1 gram (a fraction of a serving size).

Not So Fast

Don’t jump on the seaweed bandwagon right away, though. Seaweed can be too much of a good thing. With high levels of potassium, people with kidney problems could develop heart palpitations as a result. It’s a similar story for iodine. While this is a critical nutrient, having too much of it could potentially cause thyroid cancer.

Your best bet is to add seaweed to your diet in moderation, if it isn’t already. A serving a few times every week can bring countless health benefits and keep your risk for hazardous side effects relatively low. 

CATEGORIES: Alternative Health, Healthy Foods, Junk Food Alternatives , Snacks, Vegetarian