Seaweed Nutrition; A Food Source to End Starvation

Seaweed nutrition levels are very high. The biggest value from a nutritional perspective in seaweed being in the mineral content. Did you know that there are more than 35,000 species of seaweed on the planet?!

Therefore, it is reasonable to say that the nutritional value of each type of seaweed is currently not completely known.

Here we will take a closer look at the nutritional value that seaweed offers us, and consider how seaweed could be the food source that saves our planet. That’s provided that we treat the oceans with more respect than we have shown the land in generations past.

Seaweed Culture

As a Westerner, seaweed wasn’t the food of choice in our household, nor did I even consider it a nutritional food source until I became much older. However, seaweed is consumed widely throughout various parts of the world.

Asian people are the largest consumers of seaweed per capita, followed by Scandinavia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Caribbean, the Pacific Islands and Africa.

The Japanese, Chinese and people in various parts of Southeast Asia have been enjoying the benefits of seaweed for thousands of years. It is believed that seaweed consumption has played a key part in their youthful appearance and longevity.

Seaweed can be consumed in several different forms from seaweed snacks to Nori wraps around sushi. Adding it to soups and salads, and to making delicious desserts is also very common.

As a consumable, it is incredibly versatile and the nutrition in seaweed is abundant. We eat seaweed every day so that we can get all the nutrients we need to stay healthy.

Although there are over 35,000 different species of seaweed, people only consume about 20 species of sea vegetables available to us. You may have heard of Kelp, Nori, Wakame, Kombu, Irish Moss Seaweed and Dolce. Seaweed is becoming a culinary trend and providing diners with complexity in texture and flavors.

Top chefs have started embracing this new-age trend and adding seaweed to many dishes. You may have enjoyed some of these seaweed creations yourself.

Smoothies and smoothie bowls are very trendy right now. Sometimes there will be a sprinkling of toasted seaweed chips, or maybe the seaweed has been mixed through, or even used as a garnish.

Often it has been seen as the centerpiece of a salad. Either way, seaweed is making a big statement in the world of culinary creations.

What Makes Seaweed Nutrition Healthy

In 2015, Seaweed started making waves in the superfood category. More health-conscious people have started taking notice and for good reason.

Studies have shown that seaweed is packed full of nutrients and minerals, giving it its worthy superfood status. Eating seaweed regularly has various health benefits and may help reverse and prevent diseases.

Keep in mind that every seaweed has different levels of nutrients and minerals. So, it’s difficult to say specifically what is in each of the 35,000 different species of seaweed. It is known that seaweed contains:

  • Fiber
  • Protein
  • Vitamins, and
  • Minerals

When you read the nutritional information provided on a packet of seaweed they say that it consists of between 8% and 72% Carbohydrates (depending upon the species), 12% Fats, and 16% Protein. In my opinion, it should also include Seaweed 100% Nutritious and Healthy.

A Word of Caution; People taking medicines should be mindful that eating seaweed may interfere with their medication. Many of the brown varieties contain anticoagulant properties which help to thin the blood. It is believed that this helps blood circulation and supports heart health.

Seaweed also contains Iodine which is great for supporting the function of the thyroid, but if you are taking thyroid medication, the naturally occurring minerals in the seaweed may impact the way that your medication works.

Seaweed contains essential nutrients including minerals, vitamins, essential amino acids, and essential fatty acids. As these essential nutrients are all found organically in seaweed it means that they are soluble compounds that our bodies can absorb more effectively.

Pharmaceutical supplements are made in a lab through chemical manipulations. These compounds are typically insoluble and therefore not easily absorbed by the body.

There are thousands of supplements on the market for sale today. But the reality is that you could just eat seaweed every day and achieve greater health benefits.

seaweed nutrition - source of stravation
Seaweed has been relied upon for generations as a source of valuable nutrition. Find this image on Instagram.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Sea vegetables are low in fats but contain a rich source of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are scientifically referred to as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 1 2

These polyunsaturated fatty acids (PFA) are good for health. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are also found in a variety of other foods apart from seaweed, including:

  • Cod Liver Oil
  • Eggs (including omega-3 enriched)
  • Fish like anchovies, caviar (fish eggs), herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and trout
  • Seeds like chia seeds, flaxseed/linseed, hemp seeds, Perilla (shiso) seeds, and their oils 3
  • Shellfish like oysters
  • Soybeans
  • Tofu, and
  • Nuts like walnuts

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) suggests consuming a minimum of 250-500 mg of Omega-3 and Omega-6 each day.

Studies by PubMed show that regular consumption of Omega fatty acids reduces the risk of chronic diseases that lead to premature death. It also helps improve memory, cognitive function, mood, and behaviour. 4

What Are The Health Benefits of Seaweed

As mentioned above, there are many health benefits to eating seaweed. Polyunsaturated fatty acids found in seaweed contain antioxidant, anti-depressant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. All of which are beneficial for combating a range of diseases.

Chinese medicine has been using seaweed nutrition as part of their natural healing techniques for over two thousand years, and maybe even longer.

Herbal Medicine Doctors have long taught that seaweed is beneficial for maintaining good health. The remedies range depending on the ailment or disease. Seaweed, particularly sea moss is often used for breaking down mucus buildup and congestion.

Some of the areas of health that seaweed nutrition can support and improve are:

  • Cholesterol levels
  • Hormone levels
  • Cardiovascular health
  • Thyroid
  • Metabolism
  • Memory
  • Cognitive function
  • Healthy digestion
  • Blood pressure
  • Helps prevent blood clots
  • Reverses diabetics
  • Reproduction
  • Weight management, and
  • Much more

More studies are needed to substantiate the full range of benefits of seaweed, but I believe that the evidence is clear.

According to Guinness World Records, the Okinawan people are the longest-living people in the world. Okinawa, Japan boasts of having the largest number of centenarians per capita out of any country.

The Japanese diet traditionally consists of mostly vegetables, seaweed, tofu, rice, seaweed, fish and whole grains.

Eating Seaweed for Fiber

Seaweed is a great source of natural soluble fiber. Plant-based fibre can make you feel fuller for longer. It also helps to move waste through the digestive tract more efficiently.

When consuming seaweed fibers it helps the digestive tract to block fat absorption through utilising a chemical called fucoxanthin. How cool is that? 5

Seaweed is a great food to consume if you want to lose weight. The fucoxanthin from seaweed can burn fat. People who eat seaweed fibre regularly manage their weight better.

Seaweed is a great addition for people who follow a Keto diet too. It is a low-calorie, nutrient-rich food, at only 2 calories per serving. The seaweed supports the metabolism to manage the rate at which carbohydrates are absorbed into the system.

As far as the carbs go, check the nutritional values for the type of seaweed you are having. Too many carbs on keto aren’t good.

With the Keto diet, the intention is to reduce the intake of carbohydrates to force the body to burn fat. The seaweed helps the body to break the carbohydrates and fats so that the body stays in ketosis.

Did you know that seaweed also supports healthy cholesterol levels and balances the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) in your body?

Diabetics are recommended to consume 30 grams to 50 grams of dietary fibre per day. Seaweed is a great way to help get this into your diet.

Fucoxanthin is also beneficial for Diabetics in that it helps to balance blood sugar levels, and it is known to help with controlling blood pressure too. Studies have shown that Diabetics who consume seaweed every day have lower recorded blood sugar levels.

Some as low as 15% to 20% below those who didn’t make seaweed a part of their daily routine.

It makes sense to say that by eating seaweed in the first place there is a reduce the risk of getting diabetes in the first place. 6

Seaweed Properties

As mentioned earlier in this article, seaweed contains lots of health properties like being:

  • Antioxidant
  • Antiviral
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti-allergenic
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Anti-depressant, and
  • Probiotic

Seaweed has so many wonderful properties which help to enhance health, prevent disease and help the body to heal naturally.

These properties help to naturally strengthen the immune system. What a great combination of natural preventative medications! It’s no wonder that natural therapists and Chinese Medicine Doctors recommend consuming seaweed regularly.

Seaweed Improves Gut Health

Health begins in the gut, so start by eating foods to keep you healthy. As mentioned above, seaweed improves digestion and prevents constipation. The seaweed fibre helps the intestines to dislodge any old foods that have yet to move through the gut.

The fiber from seaweed provides nutritious food for the good bacteria, aka microbiota, found in the gut. People who experience digestive problems will benefit from heating seaweed because it cleans gut. 7

Seaweed like Irish Moss has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties which will help with healing naturally. These also do a lot to help reduce the risk of infection, and may also prevent growths like cysts and ulcers from forming in the stomach and intestines.

Cancer

Cancer is a hot topic and I want to be very clear here; I don’t want you to interpret that I am making any false claims. However, people who consume seaweed regularly may reduce their risk of developing some cancers. 8

As little as 10 grams of fiber per day are believed to have anti-cancer effects and may reduce your risk of getting cancer by up to 10%.

There is evidence that shows that consuming natural fibers regularly reduces the risk of developing colon cancer. This said, seaweed contains natural fibers and all those amazing properties mentioned previously, which are believed by many to encourage a healthy colon. 9

The Japanese consume between 4 and 5 grams of seaweed per day. In 2017, Japan reported that 1 in 38 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, which is considerably less than the rest of the world.

The U.S. reported that 1 in 8 women were diagnosed with breast cancer. If you’re asking me, that is a significant difference, and I’m inclined to think that the biggest difference is lifestyle-related.

Seaweed Nutrition – Fucoxanthin

It would be beneficial if there were more studies to show the effects of consuming seaweed, and the values of seaweed nutrition as a part of prevention protocols.

But, in my opinion, unfortunately, as there is no way for the Pharmaceutical industry to patent or make big money from seaweed as a product, this is unlikely.

If you think about it this way, given that seaweed grows abundantly, and there are more than 35,000 species available around the world, it is unlikely that we will see Big Pharma’s money being poured into studying the benefits of a naturally restorative resource.

Seaweed is just too readily available to the public, like organic foods, clean water, and fresh air. How will they make a dollar off it if they can’t monopolize it and put it in a bottle?

On a positive note, the statistics don’t lie. And if the oldest, and healthiest people in the world are reporting fewer cases of cancer, then I’m going to go with that.

Besides, I have read about how, and heard from reliable sources in the industry Big Pharma pays scientists to skew the data so that their medication is seen to be more appealing. So, I would rather go with real live cases rather than fraudulent documents.

Combat Metabolic Syndrome

Seaweed nutrition may prevent metabolic syndrome and reverse the symptoms related to it. Aside from carrying some extra weight, most people with metabolic syndrome often aren’t aware of the severity of their condition. What are the symptoms of metabolic syndrome?

  • High blood pressure,
  • High blood sugar,
  • Excess body fat especially around the waistline
  • Abnormal cholesterol levels
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Abnormal triglyceride levels

Metabolic syndrome increases an individual’s risk of having a stroke or heart attack.

There’s no need to worry too much about this, thankfully metabolic syndrome can be reversed. Better yet, you can prevent it. It is not hereditary.

The most important thing is your diet. Increase the amount of whole plant-based foods you eat. Try not to overeat. Reduce your consumption of alcohol and processed foods.

Other lifestyle changes that would be beneficial are being smoke-free and being more physically active.

Seaweed Nutrition for Skin

Applying seaweed topically to the skin helps to improve the collagen levels in the skin. I apply a homemade Irish Sea Moss gel to my face every night before I go to bed.

This helps to reduce sun spots, and prevent wrinkles and the signs of premature aging. My husband has seen his wrinkles reduce around his eyes since he started applying Irish Sea Moss gel to his face, neck, and chest each night.

As a topical application, you may even find Sea Moss Gel surprises you. Find this image on Instagram.

I have noticed that the pigment and sun spots that were on my face have reduced. I think applying Irish Sea Moss is the best natural product to prevent the appearance of premature aging.

Before using sea moss gel regularly I used to get a bit of acne, which was driving me crazy. Nothing that had been recommended seemed to work.

I went to a Dermatologist and doctor and as a result, I felt like I was spending an exorbitant amount of money on creams and pills which didn’t yield the results I wanted. So when I found out about how seaweed could benefit my skin I got quite excited.

Not long after I started using the sea moss gel I noticed that the inflammation started to reduce. And, I noticed that the frequency of acne reduced too.

I’ve attributed this to the antibacterial properties. I love it, and I tell everyone I speak with how fantastic it is. I want everyone to enjoy the benefits.

Inflammation and Joint Pain

Seaweed can help with several inflammatory problems due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammation properties. The nutrients found in seaweed also help to strengthen bones and connective tissue.

This is great for increasing the lubrication between the joints, which helps to reduce the pain caused by diseases like osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could reverse the symptoms experienced by arthritis? 10

What Are The Risks

Seaweed can grow in many different conditions. Any seaweed that you eat must come from a clean environment.

It can absorb toxins, and we often use seaweed as part of a detoxification protocol. So, if the seaweed has grown in a contaminated environment, it will also absorb whatever contaminants are there. We test our seaweed to ensure that there’s nothing dangerous in it.

One such example of a seaweed that has a high toxin probability can be found in hijiki. This seaweed has been found to have high arsenic levels. 11

So, it’s a pretty good idea to avoid it in large quantities. I’d also recommend avoiding seaweed that has been cultivated anywhere near the affected areas of the 2011 Fukushima disaster area (including the path of the current after the fallout).

Where possible, avoid eating food that has been harvested where there have been toxins, radiation or environmental contaminants detected.

Companies that import seaweed for consumption are required to undergo strict criteria. This can vary from country to country, but all tend to aim for the best outcomes for their citizens.

Some of the most stringent countries for testing before allowing seaweed to be sold for consumption are Australia, New Zealand and the United States (particularly California). Importers and Distributors need to test the seaweed for: 12

  • Nutrient content
  • Chemicals
  • Heavy metals such as:
    • Lead
    • Cadmium
    • Arsenic
    • Mercury
  • Radiation
  • Pesticides
  • Bacteria, and
  • PCB’s

I find it interesting that the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have such strict rulings over seaweed but doesn’t regulate supplements with the same level of scrutiny. 13 14

Seaweed contains organised minerals like potassium, sodium, vitamin K, iodine and anticoagulants. So if you’ve been prescribed medication for thyroid, kidney disease, or various blood thinners you should check with your Doctor before making seaweed a part of your meal plan. 15

I would advise anyone with a medical condition to be mindful that consuming seaweed may interfere with your current supplements or medications.

Please consult your Dietitian or Doctor first. We don’t want you overdoing it unintentionally as the conflict between seaweed and your current medication may bring about complications or side effects which could be unpleasant.

Realistically, we need to consider the risks in life. Seaweed nutrition is amazing, but like everything else in life, in moderation. It is safe for most people to eat seaweed.

If you eat a lot of seaweed you may experience some unpleasant side effects. Most of which will pass within a couple of days.

Seaweed Nutrition to End Starvation

I feel strongly that the nutrition from seaweed can help prevent and probably reverse of malnutrition on a global scale. Do you think that seaweed could end starvation?

There are some points to consider, and that all depends on the availability of the products to the people who need it. Seaweed is a plentiful and renewable resource.

It’s typically inexpensive to grow, and depending on the species may only take a couple of months to mature into a suitable size for harvest.

How do you eat it?

There are many different recipes available online. You can make a seaweed salad, add it to soups or stews, smoothies, deserts or just eat it as a snack.

The possibilities are endless. It’s worth adding some seaweed to your diet if you don’t already. Check out the ‘Recipes’ section on our website in the menu above for some ideas.

In Conclusion

I know hindsight is a wonderful thing, but I love the idea of preventing diseases by making healthy food choices over a lifetime of treatment and medication as a result of poor choices.

Did you know that seaweed is used for more than just food? It is also found in medicines like pharmaceutical antacids, cosmetics, and even energy drinks!

It may well be one of the wealthiest renewable resources available on the planet.

Seaweed nutrition provides a wide variety of micronutrient and macronutrient minerals. It’s low calorie, high in fiber, contains healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6, and it’s nutrient dense. As a food source, it could be used to end starvation and malnutrition around the world.

Reference

  1. “Eicosapentaenoic Acid (Epa) – Uses, Side Effects, and More” – WebMD Staff, Last checked 28 February 2024 [WebMD] [Archive] ↩︎
  2. “Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)” – Mount Sinai Staff, Last checked 28 February 2024 [Mount Sinai] [Archive] ↩︎
  3. “Perilla” – Science Direct, Last checked 28 February 2024 [Science Direct] [Archive] ↩︎
  4. “The importance of the omega-6/omega-3 fatty acid ratio in cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases” – A. Simopoulos, 11 April 2008 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  5. “Brown Seaweed Extract” – K. Patel, 28 September 2022 [Examine] [Archive] ↩︎
  6. “Effects of seaweed supplementation on blood glucose concentration, lipid profile, and antioxidant enzyme activities in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus” – M. Kim, J. Kim, W. Choi, S. Lee, 30 June 2008 [PubMed Central] [Archive] ↩︎
  7. “Microbiota in health and diseases” – K. Hou, Z. Wu, X. Chen, J. Wang, D. Zhang, C. Xiao, D. Zhu, J. Koya, L.Wei, Z. Chen, 23 April 2022 [Springer Nature] [Archive] ↩︎
  8. “Seaweed and Cancer Prevention” – S. Tokudome, K. Kuriki, M. Moore, 9 September 2001 [PubMed Central] [Archive] ↩︎
  9. “Dietary fiber: Essential for a healthy diet” – Mayo Clinic Staff, Last checked 28 February 2024 [Mayo Clinic] [Archive] ↩︎
  10. “Fucoidan Prevents RANKL-Stimulated Osteoclastogenesis and LPS-Induced Inflammatory Bone Loss via Regulation of Akt/GSK3β/PTEN/NFATc1 Signaling Pathway and Calcineurin Activity” – S. Lu, Y. Hsia, K. Shih, T. Chou, 10 June 2019 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  11. “Toxicity of so-called edible hijiki seaweed (Sargassum fusiforme) containing inorganic arsenic” – K. Yokoi, A. Konomi, 3 July 2012 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  12. “Imported food risk statement Hijiki seaweed and inorganic arsenic” – Food Standards Staff, Last checked 28 February 2024 [Food Standards] [Archive] ↩︎
  13. “Testing Results for Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium and Mercury” – 1 March 2023, FDA Staff [US Food & Drug Administration] [Archive] ↩︎
  14. “Case report: potential arsenic toxicosis secondary to herbal kelp supplement” – E. Amster, A. Tiwary, M. Schenker, 18 January 2007 [PubMed] [Archive] ↩︎
  15. “American Thyroid Association Guide to Investigating Thyroid Hormone Economy and Action in Rodent and Cell Models” – A. Bianco, G. Anderson, D. Forrest, V. Galton, B. Gereben, B. Kim, P. Kopp, X. Liao, M. Obregon, R. Peeters, S. Rafetoff, D. Sharlin, W. Simonides, R. Weiss, G. Williams, 9 January 2014 [Mary Ann Liebert] [Archive] ↩︎

Last Updated on 5 months by D&C Editorial Team

About the Author

Christine has long been on the path to optimal health. With a history of weight loss coaching she is driven by a passion for nutrition, health and wellness. Having grown up in Africa before migrating to New Zealand, and then Australia, she has seen very strong contrasts in quality of life and is driven to help others understand the importance of taking a holistic approach to life.

Item added to cart.
0 items - $0.00