Sea vegetables have earned a well-deserved reputation as an important category of superfoods. They’re packed with health-promoting nutrients, as well as natural compounds that help the body detoxify.
This remarkable group of ocean plants includes about 10,000 diverse species from around the globe. Many species of seaweed provide an extremely rich source of nutrients for optimal health, useful for both internal and topical applications. They’re chock full of vitamins such as A, C, E and B complex, including B12; calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, iodine and trace minerals, as well as other powerful health-promoting compounds.
Seaweed has been emphasized for thousands of years in Asian diets, and consumed in other traditional diets around the world. In recent decades, numerous seaweed species have received praise by medical researchers due to the discovery of their high fucoidan content. Fucoidans are unique, starch-like (polysaccharide) molecules that promote cellular, immune and cardiovascular health, among other benefits.
Sodium, Iodine and Thyroid Health
It’s true: Seaweed is high in natural sodium. But when balanced with potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and the other trace minerals present in this powerful food, seaweed provides an excellent mineral profile for promoting vibrant health. Many species of seaweed are also naturally high in iodine; but, similar to their sodium profiles, the iodine is accompanied by other trace minerals and co-factors, providing a balanced and beneficial source of this nutrient.
However, for people with an overactive thyroid or thyroid diseases such as Hashimoto’s, even natural sources of iodine can pose problems — at high levels. For this reason, people with active thyroid conditions should limit or in extreme cases, avoid consumption of seaweed.
Improved Iron Absorption
Many sea vegetables contain both iron and vitamin C, which is an important combination since vitamin C improves the bioavailability of iron from plants. (In fact, Mediterranean cultures have a healthy habit of using freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil over dark-green leafy vegetables, which enhances flavor as well as iron absorption.)
Common Types of Beneficial Seaweed
Some of the most widely available and beneficial sea vegetables include nori, kombu, wakame and arame. Here’s a closer look at some of the nutrients found in these varieties:
Nori: You’ve probably eaten nori before; it is most commonly used to make sushi rolls. Nori contains iodine, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc, vitamin K, vitamin A and vitamin C. It also contains protein, fiber and B vitamins including B12, a much-needed vitamin for those who have issues with nutrient absorption or who consume little or no animal products.
Kombu: Kombu is a type of kelp rich in fucoidan, which promotes cellular and immune health, helps reduce inflammation, promotes healthy blood flow and offers cardiovascular and other benefits. Kombu is rich in minerals, particularly calcium and iron, and is a good source of fiber.
Wakame: Often used in Japanese miso soup, wakame is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, and is high in calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin as well as fucoidan.
Arame: Sweeter and milder in taste than many others, this seaweed is a good source of calcium, iron, vitamin A, magnesium, iodine and other nutrients.
Certain sea vegetables also contain unique and powerful health-promoting compounds called alginates. Found in brown seaweeds mainly of the Laminaria kelp species, alginates have the ability to bind to toxins, heavy metals and dangerous radioactive particles in the digestive tract, preventing these pollutants from being reabsorbed into the body. When alginates are combined in a formula with modified citrus pectin, another powerful natural detoxifier, the two work together to provide natural detoxification that is both gentle and highly effective.
Alginates and modified citrus pectin have been shown in studies to safely remove heavy metals, environmental toxins and radioactive particles from the body, without affecting essential mineral levels. Available in ecoNugenics PectaClear®, these two ingredients bind to toxins in the digestive tract and circulation, and allow the body to safely excrete them.*
Seaweed has a rich history of use as a nutrient-dense food, while modern scientific advancements continue to discover new ways to use this powerful group of plants in diverse applications. From alternative energy to vital health promoting properties, seaweed holds important keys to a brighter future and optimal longevity, naturally.