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Health food of the month - Seaweed

January 2013

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Diet & Supplements Index

Health food of month: seaweedOkay, seaweed isn’t something we include on the menu every week. But it is becoming more popular.

It's also more readily available from a range of shops across Britain plus it is also available at some specialist online shops such as Just Seaweed which hold a ready stock of top quality hand harvested seaweed for quick despatch.

There are lots of types of seaweed; the name really covers a range of plants that live in seawater, don’t have roots and feed from the water around them. They are sometimes known as kelp or sea vegetables and can live for up to 20 years.

Interestingly, seaweed is one of the healthiest types of food available. Not all seaweeds contain the same benefits, but generally they are rich in a range of vitamins including A1, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E and K and also full of trace elements including iodine and zinc. Iodine is involved in the activity of the thyroid and seaweed is a very useful way of ensuring you take in enough of this essential element.

Seaweed, on a pound for pound basis, contains more iron than sirloin steak and more calcium than cheese. It is also a good source of fibre.

Because of its texture and nature, it is unlikely seaweed will be one of the main food sources in your diet, but as an addition to a normal diet it really can be very beneficial indeed. There is a school of thought that says that the Japanese have a lower general rate of cancer because seaweed is high on their menu.

There are many different types of seaweeds which vary in colour from almost transparent to red, brown, green and black. For instance, alaria is light green and almost transparent while dulse is dark red and hiziki is thin, wiry and almost black. They also vary enormously in length from 30 foot long to just a few inches and there are many different textures and flavours.

BladderwrackBladderwrack or focus vesiculosus (see right) is classified as a brown seaweed and is one of the most common seaweeds. It is also the one normally used in kelp tablets; but there are many other varieties that are also popular. Some seaweeds are higher in vitamins A, C and the B group while others are higher in iodine.

Including seaweed in a regular diet is not difficult. The Japanese of course already produce fabulous seaweed dishes from sushi to salads (nori is the type of seaweed usually used as a wrapper for sushi).

Most dried seaweed (apart from nori) needs to be soaked before eating but this is a very simple procedure. Simply pop the seaweed in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes until it becomes tender.

Generally seaweed doesn’t need to be cooked, and can just be added to salads, soups and casseroles. There are some good recipes now available, including on sites such as:

and as the popularity of seaweed increases, more and more information is also becoming available across the internet.



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