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The surprising benefits of edible seaweed

You know that vegetables are essential for your health, so it should come as no surprise that sea vegetables also have their benefits. Also known as edible seaweed, sea vegetables can detoxify or remineralize your body and act as antioxidants. Like eating your daily share of veggies, cooking up tasty recipes with seaweed or taking it as a food supplement has its health benefits.

As winter goes on, many of us, if we have not suffered through a little cold or a serious flu, get a little worn out and fatigued. Your body can get a helping hand from seaweeds like nori, arame, chlorella and spirulina. After all, their nutritional richness has been known for centuries in parts of Asia, Central America and Africa where they regularly eat seaweed. You might want to think about adding it to your diet too.

Seaweed as a unique source of antioxidants

Scientific research has discovered that oxidative stress may be a cause in diseases such as cancer, cardio-vascular diseases and Type 2 diabetes. Although good life and eating habits are the best defense against illness, adding seaweed to your diet can help your body mop up the damaging free radicals that come about due to physical or psychological stress, environmental pollution or poor eating habits. Its richness in carotenoids and phycocyanin, an antioxidant pigment, helps protect the cells and helps the body fight degenerative diseases and even aging. In fact, spirulina contains five times the beta carotene that carrots do!

One easy way to consumer seaweed is to replace salt with kelp flakes. Sprinkling it on your soups, salads or stews makes for a simple way to eat it regularly!

Fatigued? Eat some seaweed!

Particularly at the end of winter, fatigue may be the result of a lack of vitamins and minerals, particulalry iron. An essential element in the blood, iron is important for the red blood cells that transport oxygen from the lungs to the rest of our body. If iron is found in insufficient quantity in the body, oxygenation is slowed down and fatigue sets in.

Women need to consume 18 mg of iron per day to counter its loss due to menstruation, while men and menopausal women need 8 mg. Seaweed like AFA (Aphanizomenon flos-aquae) or spirulina have up to 30% in easily assimilated iron, making them a valuable supplement.

Seaweed to detox heavy metals

Have you ever noticed blue-green algae on the surface of a polluted pond? You may be surprised to know it’s not harmful at all to nature. In fact, it acts like a sponge to capture various heavy metals. Seaweed does the same when it’s absorbed by the body.

Heavy metals like lead, arsenic or cadmium can poison the body and cause serious illnesses like certain cancers or Alzheimer’s disease, as well as migraines, depression or allergies.

Taking chlorella, AFA or spirulina in the form of capsules or powder can help your body get rid of heavy metals. It’s recommended to start progressively to avoid detoxification symptoms like nausea or headaches. Take 1 gram of seaweed every day for a week, then increase the doses to 5 grams and finally 10 grams per day.

Like vegetables, seaweed offers a truly wide range of benefits to the body’s health. Packed with enzymes, it facilitates digestion and reduces flatulence. It’s also high in healthy unsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6) as well as fibre, which improves gastrointestinal health.

If you have health problems, ask your doctor for advice before regularly consuming seaweed. And of course make sure to read the label on seaweed products to ensure that they come from certified non-contaminated sources.

Karine Mousseau

After studying naturopathy, Karine completed a Bachelor's degree in nutrition at the University of Ottawa. Check out more of her work at karinemousseau.com, or by booking a private consultation in Bromont or Longueuil.