for Sushi Anymore, seaweed and other
marine-based supplements are popping
up everywhere as a natural way to boost
your immunity, cleanse your body of toxins,
and protect your heart from disease and
Whether eating it, or soaking in it,
coastal cultures have for centuries revered
seaweed for it's ability to heal and
nourish the body, both inside and out.
"It helps my skin look more youthful
than my biological age, gives me life-sustaining
minerals for good health, and fulfills
cravings for salty foods," says Valerie
Genari Cooksley, RN, author of Seaweed.
This low-calorie, fat free snack from
the sea contains 10 to 20 times more
minerals and vitamins than any land vegetable.
So grab a fork and dive in.
1. For Thyroid and Weight Control
Seaweed supplements are a popular component
in natural weight loss programs. Algin
in kelp and carrageenan in red seaweeds
are both thought to stimulate weight
loss. The high fiber content of sea greens
helps dieters feel satiated, while aiding
in intestinal function. An important
element in weight management is metabolism.
People with low levels of iodine tend
to metabolize food more slowly and as
a result, may end up storing it as fat.
Sea greens are loaded with iodine - 1000
times more than any land plant.
2. Smart for the
Seaweed packs a one-two punch against cardiovascular disease: It helps lower
blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. Cooksley writes, "Kelp has an ideal ratio
of potassium to sodium," which helps control hypertension. Studies show that
fucoidan (a plant-derive complex sugar molecule that stimulates immune cell growth)
in seaweeds such as bladderwrack promotes lipid metabolism in the liver, resulting
in lower cholesterol levels. And seaweed appears to strengthen weak and diseased
blood cells and help dissolve plaque build up in arteries - culprits in heart
disease. Cooksley suggests making your own sea flax seed oil: Combine 8 teaspoons
of bladderwrack powder with 8 ounces of organic flax seed oil. Use in smoothies
or drizzle on salads and cooked grains.
3. Cancer Fighter
Many experts attribute the low rates of
breast, colon and lung cancers in the
Japanese in part to their high consumption
of seaweed. Seaweeds prevent and slow
the growth of cancerous cells without
the side effects that Western medicine
can produce. Kelp's anticancerous properties
are fucoidan, lignan, and iodine, Cooksley
writes in Seaweed. Additionally, she
says fucoidan appears to work by boosting
the immune system, helping to destroy
and prevent the replication of cancer
cells. Lignans, also found in flax, whole
grains, fruits and vegetables, are converted
into molecules known to reduce estrogen
levels. Lower estrogen levels reduce
the risk of estrogen-related cancers,
such as breast cancer.
Everyday we are bombarded by environmental
toxins. Alginates, particularly the ones
found in brown seaweeds, may protect
and rid cells of toxins and help the
body secrete heavy metals. The alginates
in kelp, for example, are thought to
bind with toxins in the intestines and
carry them out of the body. Brown seaweeds
cleanse the colon of noxious chemicals,
aiding in a healthy gut.
5. Natural Sea Spa
Seaweed wraps are anything but passé in the
spa world. Rumored to have been used by
Cleopatra for it's skin-smoothing and anti-aging
properties, seaweed is no longer a beauty
secret. Lotions, mud packs, massage oils
and scrubs contain seaweed extracts for
glowing skin - our largest organ, and the
one from which most toxins are eliminated.
Additionally, lack of oxygen
to cells is a major culprit in the aging process, and iodine-rich seaweeds like
kelp and bladderwrack stimulate oxygenation.
6. Wound Mender
Mothers know the value of iodine for cuts,
scrapes an burns. It's also a powerful
disinfectant used to prevent infection
in medical facilities around the world.
Along with iodine, red and brown seaweeds
produce healing gels made up of alginates
that help prevent scarring. Cooksley recommends
adding seaweed powder to baths to help
heal insect bites and inflammatory skin
conditions such as rashes and eczema.
7. Lets You Breathe
Research suggests that breathing seaweed-enhanced
steam is an effective treatment for respiratory
problems, especially those caused by
allergies. Seaweed helps boost immunity
to environmental toxins, improve mucus
production to relieve congestion, and
flush irritants from the body. When digested,
sea greens may protect and promote proper
8. Add Flavor to
Seaweed makes a tasty nutritous addition
to many dishes. Try brown seaweeds like
wakame mixed with lettuce in a salad,
and kombu in miso soup. Agar's sweet
flavor goes well in gelatin-like desserts,
and arame's nutty taste is good sauteed
with onions and carrots or scrambled
in eggs. Try sprinkling buttered dulse
over popcorn, suggests Cooksley.
9. A Vitamin and
Seaweed offers essential vitamins and minerals and is high in calcium, fiber,
phosphorus, pottasium, magnesium, iron, sodium, protein and iodine. It contains
vitamins A,C,D,E and K, and some seaweeds even contain B12, which is important
for vegetarians because B12 is normally found only in animal products. The one
seaweed no one should live without? Laminaria, also known as kombu or Atlantic
kelp. According to Cooksley, this nutritional powerhouse does everything from
helping to regulate blood sugar, relieving congestion, and easing lymphatic swellings,
to firming, toning and revitalizing the skin.
10. Small Doses,
Cooksley says raw seaweed - dried, reconstituted,
or fresh - is the best way to get all
the active enzymes. But liquid and powdered
varieties offer the next best thing because
these supplements can be easily digested
and absorbed into the body. Cooksley
recommends taking just 1 1/2 teaspoons
of powdered seaweed (or 1/4 oz dried
or flaked) several times a week.