Health Benefits of Seaweed
In the Chinese Book of Poetry, written almost 3000 years ago, there is a poem that describes a woman who cooks sea plants. Always considered a delicacy, Asians also offered sea plants during sacrifices to the ancestors.
Today, we know the plants as seaweed, which has many health benefits:
According to Seibin and Teruko Arasaki, authors of Vegetables from the Sea, “All of the minerals required by human beings, including calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, and zinc are present in sufficient amounts. In addition, there are many trace elements in seaweeds.” Edible plants from the sea also contain important vitamins including vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid, and folic acid. Analysis has shown trace amounts of vitamin B12, which rarely occurs in land vegetables.
Sea vegetables classified as brown algae, including arame, hijiki, kombu and wakame, have been shown to cleanse the body of toxic pollutants. Specifically, scientific research has demonstrated that these plants, which are abundant in alginic acid, bind with any heavy metals in the intestines, render them indigestible, and cause them to be eliminated from the body.
Seaweed feeds the shafts and the ducts of the scalp to help improve the health of the hair. It has been said that the thick, black, lustrous hair of the Japanese is partly due to their regular diet of brown sea vegetables such as arame. Research has shown that minerals are important to healthy hair growth, and arame has a high mineral content.
Other health benefits, according to Carlson Wade’s book Health Secrets from the Orient, include regulating the hormones, enriching the bloodstream, assisting in metabolism, promoting a youthful skin color, and helping to warm the body to promote mental youthfulness.
Seaweed has always been part of the staple diet of the Asians, who lived near the sea and depended upon it for sustenance. It may well be the “secret” for a long and healthy life for you.
Many health shops and oriental grocery houses sell seaweed in various forms. In dried form, it may be used as part of a raw vegetable salad or crumbled and sprinkled over a salad as a natural tangy seasoning. You may also use seaweed as a snack, together with a fresh, raw vegetable juice.