Information about the nutritional benefits of marine plants and vegetables...
Kelp, dulse and other marine plants provide
powerful nutrition and clean flavor.
By Corinne Garcia
Research supports the health benefits provided by sea vegetables. According to a study in the journal Nutrition Reviews, these plants are “high in essential vitamins and minerals, at levels that would augment a balanced diet if consumed regularly.”
This study found micronutrient levels in marine plants to be higher than in many land-based foods, such as brown rice, lentils and a number of fruits and vegetables. Calcium levels are higher in marine plants than in cheddar cheese; iron and copper levels are higher than in meats and spinach.
Depending on the species, vegetables from the sea also provide potassium, magnesium and iodine; others contain high levels of protein. Sea vegetables contain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, B, C and E. They also provide fiber, up to 12.5% of the daily recommended amount depending on the variety. What’s more, sea vegetables are low in calories and fat.
These significant nutrient levels help explain why sea vegetables have been found to fight viruses and cancer. In one Korean study, women who consumed sea vegetables in the Porphyra family had a lower risk of breast cancer (British Journal of Nutrition 5/10). Some studies indicate these plants can lower cholesterol and blood pressure in addition to boosting immunity. Two species, Ascophyllum nodosum and Fucus vesiculosus, have been found to increase insulin sensitivity, a key factor in maintaining healthy blood sugar levels (Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism 12/11). Kerkdijk and her sisters list 29 health benefits of sea vegetables on their website, from
supporting healthy cognition to promoting healthier skin, gums and eyes.
There are more than 10,000 species of marine plants, many of them edible. Some are more commonly eaten than others; each has its own unique nutritional characteristics and flavor:
Arame—This delicate variety of kelp has a thin texture similar to that of cooked buckwheat noodles, according to Monica Reinagel, LDN, nutritionist and creator of the Nutrition Diva podcast. Some people describe arame as having a subtle nutty flavor, and it is known to be rich in calcium,
iron, iodine and potassium. It can be added to beans, grain dishes, noodles, stews or casseroles.
Dulse—This red, broad-leafed sea vegetable has a smoky flavor. “It’s easy to eat right out of the bag and has the most iron of all the sea vegetables,” says Kacie Loparto, a sea vegetable harvester in Mendocino, California (shesellsseaweed.com). “I love to fry it up like bacon and substitute it in a BLT or sprinkle it on baked potatoes.” It can also be used in salads. Loparto notes that dulse will deteriorate if cooked for too long in liquid, so it should be added to soups at the end of the cooking time.
Hijiki—Dark with small leaves, this plant looks like dried tobacco. Reinagel describes it as having “a tender-crisp texture and a very mild, almost sweet flavor.” Hijiki is known to be high in fiber and calcium, among other nutrients. It can be added to casseroles, stews, salads, salad dressing, stir-fries and even burgers if finely chopped.
Kombu—“This one is thick and leathery with a very subtle taste, standing up well to longer cooking times,” says Loparto. She adds kombu to stews as a nutritional boost and uses it to tenderize beans—it speeds the process while adding a slight smoky flavor. It makes a hearty stock, typically as the base of miso soup, or it can be ground and used as a flavor enhancer. Kombu is loaded with vitamins, A, C, D and E, and iron and protein.
Nori—Used to make sushi rolls, this is the most common variety of sea vegetable in the US and has the highest levels of protein. Kerkdijk describes the flavor as “sweet and meaty.” She recommends adding nori to soup or toasting it and eating as a healthy snack.
Wakame—Loparto’s favorite, wakame is a dark green, mildly flavored variety of kelp. “It’s great for making seaweed salad, if you soak it to tenderize and reconstitute it or let it sit in the dressing for a while,” she says. To accompany wakame, Loparto makes a dressing with miso, brown rice vinegar, sesame oil and some toasted sesame seeds; sometimes she adds cucumbers.
Other varieties include karengo, ogo, sea lettuce and sea palm.
Many sea vegetables are sold in dehydrated form at natural food stores and Asian markets. Most need to be reconstituted—soaked in water for a short time or boiled. It’s important to follow package directions and use a small amount, as it expands quite a bit in water. To ensure that your sea vegetables are of the highest quality, check that suppliers are harvesting their product from clean areas of the ocean far from urban population centers.
Full Article Here: http://energytimes.com/pages/features/1203/seaweed.html