Seaweeds offer a wide range of therapeutic possibilities both internally and externally. So much so, that carrageenans have been patented as antiviral agents.
Take Carrageen Moss for example. Its medicinal qualities are incredible. People take it as a demulcent medicine for coughs and peptic ulcers. Carrageen Moss eases sore throats and chest problems, thanks to acting as both an expectorant and an antiviral. It’s a must-have in any kitchen cupboard during cold or flu season!
Seaweed is full of nutrients. Coming in a multitude of colours, textures, shapes and sizes, all types contain a rich supply of minerals, most prominently calcium, copper, iodine and iron. They are also rich in protein, fibre and vitamins, specifically vitamin K and folic acid, while being low in calories and fat. What’s not to love!
Thanks to their impressive nutritional profile, seaweeds are beneficial to health and are thought to help the body fight illness and disease. The Japanese have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and one significant, standout dietary habit is their regular consumption of seaweeds. Seaweeds contain a molecule known as fucoidans, which are believed to be responsible for these impressive health benefits, contributing not just to overall life expectancy, but also to immunity and cardiovascular function.
According to Medical News Today, Seaweed has many benefits, which we have categorised below.
1. It contains Iodine which supports thyroid function
Your thyroid relies on iodine to make hormones. Without enough iodine, you may start to experience symptoms like weight changes and fatigue.
Seaweed has the unique ability to absorb concentrated amounts of iodine from the ocean. In fact, one dried sheet of seaweed can contain 11–1,989% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) for iodine, which is 150 mcg per day.
2. It’s a great source of Vitamins and Minerals
Seaweed contains many healthy minerals that are easy for the body to break down. As well as protein, carbohydrates, fiber, minerals and polyunsaturated fatty acids, the superfood provides vitamin C, vitamin B, vitamin A, vitamin E, iron, Iodine, and antioxidants which may protect the body from oxidative stress and reduce inflammation at the cellular level.
3. It provides fibre and polysaccharides that support gut health
Bacteria in the intestines play an important role in breaking down food and supporting digestion and overall health.
Algae may be an ideal food for the gut. Authors of a study in the Journal of Applied Phycology report that algae tend to contain high amounts of fibre, which may make up 25-75% of the algae’s dry weight. This is higher than the fibre content of most fruits and vegetables This fibre can help feed the gut’s bacteria. Intestinal bacteria break fibre into compounds that improve gut health and the health of the immune system.
Adding algae to the diet may be a simple way to provide the body with plenty of gut-healthy prebiotic fiber, which in turn can help with issues such as constipation or diarrhea.
Additionally, particular sugars found in seaweed called sulfated polysaccharides have been shown to increase the growth of “good” gut bacteria. These polysaccharides can also increase the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which provide support and nourishment to the cells lining your gut.
4. It may assist with weight loss
The fiber in seaweed may benefit people who are trying to lose weight. Fiber helps a person feel full, but it contains very few or no calories itself.
According to the study in Marine Drugs, a high amount of dietary fiber delays stomach emptying. As a result, the stomach may not send signals of hunger to the brain for a longer time, which may help prevent overeating.
5.It may reduce Heart Disease risk
A 2011 review of 100 studies on the benefits of seaweeds, published in the American Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, reported that seaweeds may be used to help lower blood pressure and promote heart health.
As the same study notes, high-fiber foods such as algae may also reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood. These soluble fibers bind to bile acids or salts in the body. The body then uses cholesterol to replace these elements, which may result in a decrease of total cholesterol by up to 18%.
6. It may reduce the risk of type 2 Diabetes by Improving Blood Sugar Control
Fiber-rich foods, such as seaweed, may help with diabetes. This is because high amounts of fiber help regulate blood glucose levels and insulin levels. Adding seaweed to the diet may help increase a person’s fiber intake without a large increase in calories.