Sunday, 17 June 2012


Kelp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever eaten seaweed before? I must say that it is an acquired taste. The strong mineral, salty taste and sometimes fishy smell of the seaweed or the mossy green color can be a turnoff for some people. 

Personally, I do not dislike eating kelp neither would I go overboard for it. That goes for sushi, too. I must add that one woman's sushi is another woman's poison....well, if you like to live on the edge, do try the puffer fish.  But, that's another story....

Seaweed or Kelp is a plant that grows in the ocean. It is a source of food for herbivorous sea animals such as the fish, manatees, plankton, sea turtles and seals. 

Nori, geröstete Blätter aus Algen, die vor all...
Nori, roasted sheets of seaweed used in japanese cuisine for sushi. The smaller ones are already seasoned with sesame oil and spices. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Humans consume seaweed too. The Japanese eat seaweed as a wrap for sushi.  My nieces and nephews love to eat roasted seaweed.  They will buy in bulk and since it is paperthin, will chow down four or five packets in one sitting.

Seaweed can be used in soups, salads, as a side dish and also as a condiment. Popular edible seaweeds are deep green kombu, chew red dulse, leafy sea lettuce, dried black hijiki, emarald wakame and toasted nori. These seaweed has it's own unique and distinctive taste as well as texture. They have valuable sources of nutrients that are comparable with land vegetables. Seaweed also has many health benefits.

Nutritional Value

Most seaweeds have high levels of essential amino acids. It is a rich source of vegetable protein that is very suitable for people who are on a vegetarian diet or meat less diet.

Similar to land vegetables, seaweeds contains vitamins C and A(beta carotene). It also comprise of potassium, iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium due to the fact that these minerals are found to be very concentrated in sea water. It is one of the few vegetable sources of vitamins B-12.

Controlling Weight 

One serving of seaweed is equivalent to only 5 to 20 calories and therefore is considered a "free food"when it comes to weight control. It contains virtually no fat.  The fiber content will also make you feel full when you eat it.

What is Fucoxanthin?

Researcheres at Hokkaido University have discovered that a
 seaweeds possess a substance known as Fucoxanthin which has the ability to reduce the accumulation of fat in the body cells of lab animals. However, it has not been tested on humans.

Substitute for Salt

In United Kingdom, researchers have tested Seaweed granules as a flavor enhancer that could replace salt in snack foods and other processed food products. By substituting salt with seaweed in our diets may reduce the risk of high blood pressure which in turn reduces the risk of  a heart attack or stroke.

English: Khanom wun (Thai script: ขนมวุ้น) are...
English: Khanom wun (Thai script: ขนมวุ้น) are desserts made with an agar agar gelatine. The colours represent different flavours. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regulating Blood Sugar

A regular diet of seaweed can help balance blood sugar because it has soluble fiber content that helps slow down food digestion and promote efficient absorbtion of nutrients into the bloodstream.

Aids Digestion

Agar agar or jelly is made from seaweed that is high in soluble fiber.  Used as a laxative, agar agar will soak up water in the intestine and expands.  This will cause trigger bowel movement  to eliminate waste and toxins from the colon.

Other Benefits

Though it has not been scientifically proven in humans, seaweed extracts have been shown to have an anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effect on laboratory animals.

My next topic for discussion is a series on spices.  I will first cover, "The Spices of Life-Ginger".

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