Are Seaweed Snacks Healthy? What You Should Know

Are Seaweed Snacks Healthy?

Seaweeds are types of Algae found in the water body. They are eaten by fishes in the sea and humans. They offer many health benefits and come in different colors. Some are black, red but most are green. Examples of seaweed are Nori, sea lettuce, kelp,  Kombu, and dulse. 

They grow on rocks in the ocean and are consumed mostly by Asians. It can be eaten in various ways. You can choose to make your seaweeds into a smoothie, soup, salad, or snack. Whatever form you choose to eat them doesn’t deplete the nutritional value in it.

Seaweeds are eaten all over the world. They have been made into snacks and are packed with minerals like iron, calcium. They also contain vitamins E, B, A, and fiber.

These seaweed snacks are available in different flavors. You can have a smack of goodness in a seaweed bar as they are manufactured into sweet, salty, and spicy flavors. They will fit in perfectly in your bag as you go on trips. So you can snack on a delicious seaweed snack on the go. 

You will be at a lesser risk of heart disease when you add seaweed to your diet. Eating seaweed snacks also regulates your blood pressure and can fix a lot of imbalances in your system.

It helps in reproduction and fertilization. If you are the type that cares about your weight, you will need to eat seaweeds to keep obesity in check. You can always fall back on seaweed if you are deficient in minerals because this snack holds numerous minerals that will improve your health. 

It will amaze you that replacing your consumption of salt with seaweed snacks will protect your heart. Excessive consumption of sodium, a constituent of salt can increase blood pressure. There is an influx of potassium and magnesium into the body when seaweeds are eaten which are essential minerals in your daily life. 

Benefits Of Eating Seaweed

Here are some of the benefits associated with eating seaweed snacks.

1. It helps with thyroid function

The thyroid gland is responsible for releasing hormones that help in fertilization, cell repair, and growth. An iodine deficiency results in obesity or goiter. Goiter is characterized by swelling around the neck.

The thyroid gland is important in the body as it is responsible for hormone secretion. 150mg of Iodine intake is recommended daily standard. Seaweed absorbs iodine from the sea so consuming seaweeds will provide your body with sufficient iodine. 

  • Kelp contains 3.5g which is 59 times the recommended daily intake.
  • Wakame contains 139mcg which is 93% of the recommended daily intake of Iodine.
  • Nori contains 37mcg which is 25% of the recommended daily intake of Iodine.
  • Kombu contains 2523mcg which is 1682% of the recommended daily intake of Iodine.

Tyrosine collaborates with iodine to secrete two hormones that promote the proper functioning of the Thyroid gland. 

Seaweed salad
Image: @Oksana_Shu via Twenty20

2. Source of Minerals and vitamins

Eating seaweeds does not only quench your hunger but replenishes your body with essential minerals and vitamins. Spirulina, a type of seaweed will provide your body with Copper, Carbohydrates, Iron, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Manganese, Protein, and fiber.

Vitamins K, C, E, A, sodium, magnesium, and calcium will be added to your body after eating any form of seaweed. Spirulina is filled with proteins which implies that the important amino acids are present in it. Fishes are not the only organisms you can get Omega-3 fatty acids. Seaweeds are a source of these fatty acids. 

3. It provides your body with antioxidants

Free radicals are unstable and dangerous to your body. Antioxidants are substances responsible for suppressing these radicals. These free radicals are more dangerous than you can imagine.

They can lead to cell damage and are the cause of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases in the body. Wakame is filled with antioxidants like fucoxanthin which keeps the cell from destruction. Combining seaweed and fat in your meal helps to quicken the absorption rate of this particular antioxidant. 

4. It improves Gut health

The gut is filled with bacteria that help in food digestion. Some of these bacteria are detrimental while some support health. Taking in a lot of fiber can help multiply the number of helpful bacteria. To increase the amount of fiber in your body, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. 

Fibers are not easily digested thus will become a meal for the bacteria present in your gut.  Seaweed is contained with polysaccharide which contributes to the helpful bacteria growth.

Fibers are not the only foods that can increase the level of supportive bacteria. Eating a significant quantity of algae multiplies this bacteria in your gut.

Algae is rich in fiber and while fruits are a source of fiber, algae will contribute a larger amount of fiber to your body. Fiber is a source of food for bacteria. The more fiber, the more bacteria. The bottom line is that these bacteria are important and help indigestion. 

5. It helps you to shed weight

Vegetables and fibers when consumed increase bulk stool. It also prevents you from getting hungry thereby curbing your consumption rate. Some foods contain calories which is the major cause of fat in the body.

Fucoxanthin which is an antioxidant was injected into some lab rats and they were placed under supervision. It was observed that the rats lost weight. Fucoxanthin is present in seaweed so if you want to shed some weight, consume a lot of seaweed in form of snacks, salad, or soups. 

6. It helps to prevent heart diseases

A high amount of cholesterol in the body can lead to heart disease. Seaweed lowers the level of cholesterol in your blood. This is made possible because of the fiber present in seaweeds. Foods rich in fiber can drop cholesterol levels thereby reducing the likelihood of contracting heart disease. 

Blood clotting is another major cause of cardiovascular diseases. However, this can be controlled by Fucans.

Fucans which is a Carbohydrate present in seaweed stop blood clotting. When the blood pressure is balanced, one will be at a lesser risk of suffering heart disease. Amino acids help in balancing blood pressure. Some amino acids present in seaweed are responsible for the regulation of blood pressure. 

Seaweed sushi
Image: @Deep_Mind via Twenty20

7. They help regulate blood sugar

An increase in blood sugar is the cause of diabetes. There must be a regulation in the blood sugar level for the system to function properly. If an imbalance in the blood sugar level persists, it will result in health disease. This disease is known as Diabetes and it consists of two types, Type I and I.

A research confirmed that the consumption of seaweed by some Asians balanced their blood sugar.  The antioxidant, fucoxanthin which is responsible for weight loss and suppressing radicals also helps in regulating blood sugar. 

Alginate contained in seaweed was observed to lower the absorption rate of sugar. Consuming seaweeds and fruits/foods filled with fiber will cut down blood sugar levels. 

8. They help boost the immune system

Cancer is caused by the multiplication of cells in the body. Oestrogen when multiplied can cause breast cancer. Seaweeds can give your immune system a boost and protect your body from cancer. Seaweeds also contain some substances that are responsible for combating viruses and other foreign bodies that can cause harm to your health.

How To Incorporate Seaweed In Your Meals

Seaweeds can be processed into different forms. Some are made into snacks, while others are eaten fresh or dried. Whichever way you choose to consume it, that doesn’t reduce its nutritional value. Discover other ways seaweeds can be eaten. 

  • Kombu can be eaten with beans or made into a soup broth
  • To enjoy a seaweed salad, combine some wakame with garlic and vinegar
  • Dried nori can be eaten as a snack
  • You can also roast tour seaweed and season it with some ingredients for better taste
  • Seaweed can be prepared as a vegetable.

Health Risks Of Eating Excessive Seaweed

Seaweeds are healthy but when eaten too much can be dangerous. 

  • Thyroid infections can occur when you eat a lot of seaweed. Seaweeds are packed with iodine and excessive consumption of seaweed can result in thyroid diseases. Thyroid infection is characterized by swelling around the neck
  • Pollutants released into the water body contain a lot of heavy metals. These metals can be absorbed by seaweeds. When eaten can accumulate and eventually cause harm to the body
  • A high concentration of potassium is present in seaweeds. Too much potassium can result in kidney infection
  • Seaweed comprises Vitamin K that can disturb the chemical reaction of warfarin in the body.

Conclusion

Seaweed contains iodine which is important in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. It is packed with other minerals that protect the cells. That’s why its use for culinary purposes is on the increase.

Seaweed as an ingredient enhances the flavor of your foods. Although, excessive intake of seaweed could damage your thyroid gland. It is thus recommended in minimal quantity. People undergoing treatments for thyroid infections are advised not to eat seaweeds. 

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