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Seaweed --- Top 10 Health Benefits
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August 28, 2012
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist


Seaweed – is it on your plate? This slippery foodstuff has been
a staple of Asian diets for centuries but here in the United
States we are only just catching on to the benefits of seaweed.
Seaweed – loosely defined as any type of vegetable growing in
the ocean – is one of the healthiest foods on the planet, jam-
packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Seaweed is not simply a snack or ingredient in a salad or soup.
Seaweed helps keep your heart healthy and builds your
immune system. This salty specialty may even fight cancer.

We’ve gathered together a full crop of seaweed health benefits
so you know exactly why seaweed should be part of your diet.

























1.
Wakame Seaweed Lowers Triglycerides

Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) looks a little like pappardella
pasta with wide, flat leaves. Wakame has a salty-sweet taste
and you can use it in salads dressed with a soy sauce and
vinegar dressing as well as in miso soup. Wakame contains
calcium and magnesium, and its pigment fucoxanthin is known
to improve insulin resistance.

In a 2002 study from the Fisheries Research Agency Kanazawa-
ku, Yokohama, Japan researchers also found wakame
decreased triglyceride levels in the liver  - results were best
when both wakame and fish oil were consumed together.

2.
Dried Seaweed Contain Iodine and Protein

Nori is a dry, papery seaweed with an earthy taste and you’ll
recognize it if you consume a lot of sushi. Nori and other
seaweeds contain high concentrations of iodine, which is why
seaweed is often touted as a treatment for an
underactive
thyroid gland (hypothyroidism).

However, additional iodine will only help you if your
hypothyroidism is caused by iodine deficiency, which is
relatively rare. Too much iodine can cause an overactive thyroid
gland. Be careful when eating lots of seaweed if you are
pregnant or nursing.

Less problematically, nori is one of the richest seaweeds in
terms of protein and one sheet of nori seaweed has as much
fiber as a cup of spinach. (Read more about
foods high in
fiber.)

Other healthy additions include vitamins C and vitamin B12.

3.
Japanese Seaweed Anti-Obesity Benefits

Japanese seaweed such as arame (shredded kelp) has long
been popular with Asian consumers whether they are watching
their weight or not.

The long, thin strands of arame (Eisenia bicyclis) and
tororokombu provide potassium and may have an anti-obesity
effect. According to a 2009 study by Tokyo University of Marine
Science and Technology, Tokyo, Japan tororokombu (shaved
edible kelp) decreased serum triglyceride levels and had a
powerful anti-obesity effect on obese mice that were fed a high-
fat diet.  (Read more about
how to lower your triglyceride
levels.)

Given that the Japanese and Asian diet in general seems to
result in fewer incidences of heart disease and obesity it may
be worth giving seaweed a try as part of a weight-loss diet.  

4.
Seaweed is a Laxative and Heartburn Remedy

Bladderwrack seaweed is the type of kelp (seaweed) most
commonly sold in the United States. Bladderwrack is a brown
seaweed that is often made into powders and preparations.

Alginic acid in bladderwrack swells when it contacts water,
creating a kind of seal over the top of the stomach. For this
reason bladderwrack is often used as a remedy for heartburn
and it is also sometimes used for its laxative effects (Herbal
Medicines: A Guide for Health-Care Professionals; 1996.) (Read
more about
natural remedies for heart burn.)

5.
Seaweed for Strengthening Immunity

Bladderwrack and other seaweeds have also been promoted
for their ability to strengthen the immune system, helping you
fight off infection.

A 1999 study from Universidad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad
Universitaria, Argentina showed elements in kelp helped
prevent infection from the herpes simplex virus.

Herpes protection --- really? Yet this remarkable result was also
found in another, earlier study. A 1983 study by Criado MT and
Ferreiros CM entitled “Immunomodulatory effect produced in
mice by a complex-carbohydrate specific lectin-like
mucopolysaccharide from Fucus vesiculosus” also discusses
this virus protection benefit. (Read more about
how to boost
your immune system.)

6.
Seaweed Aids Muscle Growth?

Could seaweed add a competitive edge to sports and athletics?
An extract of the brown seaweed Cystoseira canariensis could,
in theory, limit the activity of myostatin in the body – myostatin
stops muscle cells growing so the less myostatin you have, the
better your muscles are able to grow (The Technological
Institute, Las Palmas, Spain, 2003.)

But not all studies agree. A 2004 study from the Department of
Health, Human Performance, and Recreation, Baylor University,
Waco failed to demonstrate any difference in muscle size and
power after a 12-week placebo trial.

7.
Seaweed is Rich in Manganese

We all need the metal manganese but our bodies naturally
contain only a very small amount. Manganese plays an
important role in fighting free radicals and promoting
antioxidant defense, as well as promoting energy metabolism,
good blood sugar control and normal bone growth. Seaweed is
an excellent source of manganese as well as calcium, potassium
and iron.

8.
Could Kelp Cure Cancer?

Could common seaweed, often washed ashore and ignored on
beaches, have cancer-fighting powers?

Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley discovered
in 2005 that a diet rich in bladderwrack seaweed lowered levels
of the sex hormone estradiol in rats making it potentially useful
in fighting estrogen-dependent diseases such as breast cancer.

We've all heard of soy's benefits in reducing your risk for
breast cancer.  Over time, seaweed may start to receive more
attention as a breast
cancer-fighting food.  

9.
Brown Seaweed Prevents Blood Clots

A 2007 study from University G. D'Annunzio Medical School &
Foundation, Italy showed substances in brown seaweed
contained properties that stopped clots forming in blood
vessels and also acted as anti-inflammatory agents.

Brown seaweed is rich in fucoidan, phytochemicals that act as
anticoagulants, and for this reason many people supplement
their diet with seaweed for health benefits.

10.
Essential Fatty Acids and Seaweed – Heart Health Benefits

Further heart health benefits come from seaweed, in particular
leafy kelp. Researchers in 2011 from the Teagasc Food
Research Centre, Ashtown and Memorial University,
Newfoundland found seaweed had a number of heart healthy
benefits including being a source of essential fatty acids and
antioxidants.

Essential fatty acids are thought to reduce thrombosis and
atherosclerosis which is important in reducing the risk of heart
disease.



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Nori seaweed sheets have as much fiber as spinach.
nori seaweed sheets have fiber