Seaweed as a Super Food

23rd, February 2016

Kelp is rich in Iodine in particular and can be eaten or its extracts used to supplement under-active Thyroids!

Seaweed abounds along the Irish coastline. There are many seaweeds which are edible. They are actually called Sea Vegetables now that they are being seen as a useful food product. There is Dulce, a long time favourite in Ulster, but also Kelp, Sweet Kelp, Sea Moss, Sea Lettuce and Wakame. Sea weed is set to be the top superfood craze of 2016.  What is most interesting is the finding that Seaweed is packed with antioxidants which help to “mop up” free radicals, the dangerous, and often carcinogenic compounds that we encounter in a Western diet.  There are many books promoting the use of seaweed as a super food, and at least 8 Sea Veg and Seaweed cook books available to help people to maximise the benefits of eating seaweed.

Nutritionally Sea vegetables are as good as land vegetables and in some cases nutritionally superior in their vitamin, trace element and even protein content. Seaweed has many health benefits when eaten but most notably and well known is its role in healthy skincare- soaps, bath lotions and creams and applications with a seaweed base have been used for years. It is set to be revolutionary in western skincare treatments.

There are now Seaweed farms off the coast of Ireland, one of the best having been featured recently on Television – Ocean Veg Ireland off the coast of Rathlin Island.

Dulce has long been picked or “harvested” along the Irish coastline in the spring of each year and then dried in the air for weeks or months before being eaten as a snack food. It contains all of the trace elements required by humans. It is rich in vitamins and minerals and even has protein and Iron in it. There are records of people eating Dulce for over 1000 years.

Kelp is rich in Iodine in particular and can be eaten or its extracts used to supplement under-active Thyroids! A component of Kelp is Alginic acid and this is the base of many indigestion remedies, slimming products etc

Sweet Kelp used to be used solely as a fertiliser for the land, but it too has many benefits to the body as an edible sea weed and also as a component of many skin products.

Sea Lettuce is a little more Brackish and not so pleasing on the palate but is used in soups, salads and can be used as a garnish on certain meat dishes.

Wakame is used in Japanese cooking and is gaining popularity in the British Isles as the Irish sea version is sweet and palatable as well as nutritious.

There is an Irish Seaweed Research Group which is providing useful information which will help to promote the health benefits of seaweed. There are many Seaweed cosmetics available too. Really there is no excuse for us now to ignore the benefits of Seaweeds.

By Dr Roger Brown, Private GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital

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