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One common question we get all the time is "what are the health benefits of seaweed and is it good for me?"
The answer is yes! Seaweed really is a healthy, delicious food packed full of vital minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. It contains fiber, fatty acids, protein, along with other bioactive compounds like phytonutrients plus with little to no sugar and the right type of good fats it offers sooo many health benefits!
Seaweed is a major source of iodine, which is essential for thyroid function and to support a healthy metabolism. Your thyroid gland releases hormones to help control growth, energy production, reproduction and the repair of damaged cells in your body. Your thyroid relies on iodine to make hormones. Without enough iodine, you may start to experience symptoms like weight changes, fatigue, or swelling of the neck over time. Seaweed is the highest naturally occurring source of iodine that is well-absorbed; the iodine found in seaweed can help bolster thyroid function and hormone creation.
Seaweed also contains an amino acid called tyrosine, which is used alongside iodine to make two key hormones that help the thyroid gland do its job properly
Seaweed is packed with fibre and can make up about 25–75% of seaweed’s dry weight; this is higher than the fibre content of most fruits and vegetables! Fibre can resist digestion and be used as a food source for bacteria in your large intestine instead. Fibre is vital for supporting digestion, maintaining regular bowel movements and is essential for a happy gut. Additionally, seaweed contains sulfated polysaccharides which have been shown to promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria which is vital for your health as it’s estimated that you have more bacteria cells in your body than human cells. Improper balance in good and bad gut bacteria can lead to sickness and disease.
Sulfated polysaccharides can also increase the production of short chain fatty acids which provide support and nourishment to the cells lining your gut.
Rich in antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E in addition to a wide variety of plant compounds including flavonoids and carotenoids, consuming seaweed can help to fight off free radical damage within the body. Brown seaweed contains a carotenoid called fucoxanthin that has a particularly impressive antioxidant effect (in case you don't know excess free radical production is considered to be an underlying cause of several diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes). Antioxidants can make the unstable substances in your body (called free radicals) less reactive which makes them less likely to damage your cells.
Fucoxanthin, alginate and other compounds in seaweed may help reduce your blood sugar levels, consequently reducing your risk of diabetes
Furthermore, seaweed is an abundant source of folate, a natural form of vitamin B9 that promotes the production of healthy new red blood cells and supports heart function.
Did you know, the Omega 3 oils that so many associate with fish consumption, actually come from the algae that fish eat? It is the algae that is high in heart and brain friendly Omega 3’s
The healthy fats help the brain function more efficiently. DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and has demonstrated an ability to help improve memory, speaking, math and motor skills. Consuming higher quantities of omega-3s has been shown to help improve conditions such as ADD, depression and bipolar disorders.
One study in people with early-stage dementia showed that a combination of vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acid supplements slowed mental decline Another study found that even vitamin B12 levels on the low side of normal can contribute to poor memory performance.
Yes that is true as well; seaweed is one of the few vegetable sources of vitamin B12 which is essential to keep your brain sharp and help to reduce or eliminate brain fog.
When you lean into a more plant-based diet sure enough the most frequent question you will be asked is "where do you get your protein from?" Well, an answer to this question is seaweed! Yes there is a significant amount of protein in seaweed which can vary up to 47% protein content depending on the species, the environmental conditions and whether it is wet or dried. From a health and sustainability perspective, the BBC found that one hectare of a seaweed farm produces more protein than the same amount of land used for cattle!
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