I love seaweed, especially in seaweed salads. I don't often crave seaweed but whenever I see a seaweed salad I don't pass it by and I've gotten pretty good at making my own.
Now, I know what you're thinking......EWWW! But trust me, seaweed salad is delicious and it's has a lot of health benefits too.
Seaweeds are found throughout the world's oceans and seas and none are known to be poisonous. Many are actually good to eat and even considered a great delicacy in many Asian countries. Seaweeds belong to groups of multicellular algae; red, green and brown algae. Some blue-green algae are also considered seaweed.
Seaweed has a variety of purposes, for which it is farmed or foraged from the wild. But of course the major use of seaweed is for food, especially in Japan, China and Korea, and in the Indian Ocean where seaweed cultivation has become a major coastal industry. The main food species which are grown in these countries are Nori (can you say sushi), Kombu, and Wakame. In Japan alone, the total annual production value of nori amounts to more than $2 billion making it one of the most valuable crops produced by aquaculture in the world. In most western countries, seaweed consumption is relatively restricted therefore there is no great pressure for mass development.
Seaweed extracts appear in the oddest places; you have probably eaten some sort of seaweed extract in the last 24 hours as many processed foods such as chocolate milk, yogurts, health drinks, and even the highest-quality German beers contain seaweed polysaccharides such as agars, carrageenans and alginates. Seaweed baths have been popular in Ireland and Britain since Edwardian times, and seaweed wraps and treatments have become more increasingly popular in the last few years.
Some good reasons for consuming seaweed are:
1. Increased longevity and youthfulness - polysaccharides which are important in the prevention of degenerative diseases including cardiovascular and diabetes increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in the brain, improves liver function, and stabilizes blood sugar.
2. Aids in weight loss - seaweed contains a variety of concentrated protein and healthy carbs. It is low in fat and very low in calories.
3. Acts as a detoxifier for the body - research has shown that seaweeds bind with heavy metals in the intestines, makes then indigestible and removes them from the body.
4. Helps prevent cancer - Sea vegetables contain large amounts of lignans which are plant compounds that protect against cancers of all kind.
5. Contains a variety of vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health - according to the authors of Vegetables from the Sea, all of the minerals required by the human body, which include calcium, sodium, magnesium, zinc and potassium are present in sufficient amounts in seaweed. Analysis has also shown trace amounts of vitamin B12, rarely found outside of animal products.
There is also so new research that shows that seaweed could hold the cure to diabetes. The substance, known as Alginate, extracted from seaweed is being wrapped around insulin-producing cells taken from pigs and injected into the patients’ body, hiding the pig cells from the immune system so it does not destroy them once they are injected. This allows the animal cells to carry on producing insulin, potentially banishing the need for patients to inject themselves with the hormone up to four times a day. Alginate is already widely used as wound dressings because the body seems to recognize it as friendly rather than foreign.
Seaweed Salad Recipe
Here’s my recipe which is incredibly nutritious and healthy. In a raw version replaced the rice vinegar with lemon juice, and use raw sesame oil instead of toasted however, you won’t get the same flavor as from the toasted sesame oil.
Seaweed of your choice (raw or sundried)
Stevia, coconut nectar or sweetener of choice
Toasted sesame oil
Crushed red chili peppers
Bragg aminos or tamari
For the dressing combine all ingredients then add to the seaweed. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.