Boost your Immunity with Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables benefit the cardiovascular, glandular, and musculo-skeletal immune centers.
There’s more than fish in the sea to nourish us. Consider sea vegetables. Historically, there is evidence that sea vegetables were on the menu in Paleolithic times. Ancient Japanese and Chinese texts mention them, in Hawaii they fed the nobility nobly, and today peoples of the North Atlantic as well as of the Pacific Islands feast on everything from agar-agar to dulse and nori (the wrap around sushi) with immunity-enhancing and life-extending results.
Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of preventable brain damage. Even mild shortages can affect the thyroid gland and affect the health of the central nervous system. Are you getting your 150 micrograms RDA? You are and then some, if you’re seasoning your vegetables with kelp, making your sushi with nori, and stir-frying your tofu with hijiki. A 1/4-ounce serving of a sea vegetable such as dulse or hijiki may contain 4.5 milligrams, or 4,500 micrograms, of iodine, to say nothing of the vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and antioxidants.
There are more than 160 varieties of sea vegetables (aka seaweeds) and three types—brown (kelp), red (dulse), and green (nori) harvested from the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans for food and food additives. Although eaten more widely in Japan and China, as well as Scotland and Ireland, than here in the United States, the worldwide market is worth more than $5 billion.
These large marine algae that grow in shallow waters along the ocean coastline stimulate your immune system, detoxify cells, provide calcium without saturated fat, and aid in weight loss. An unusual source of B12, sea vegetables are high in carotenoids and supply all fifty-six minerals and trace minerals, such as silica and phosphorus, humans need to survive and thrive.
Weeds for Way-Down Homocysteine. A study of more than 9,000 Americans by researchers at the Center for Integrative Medicine in Tarzana, California, revealed that those with the highest intake of folate had an 86 percent lower risk for heart attack and 79 percent lower risk for stroke than those taking in less than 400 micrograms a day. Folate helps lower homocysteine, a major risk factor for stroke, and you can make your folate quota and then some by eating a little algae each day. Folate also protects you against colon and breast cancer.
Boost of B Vitamins. Under stress? Munch a little crunchy dulse to up your stress-deflecting B vitamins, especially B12, which is scarce in vegetarian diets and lost as the stomach lining ages.
Detox and Revitalize DNA. Sea vegetables are a source of marine phytochemicals that help detoxify and remove heavy metals from the body. Chlorophyll (found in all the world’s healthiest vegetables, especially spinach and olives) is also abundant in sea vegetables and helps reverse the damage to DNA, which is caused by cancers of the colon, breast, and lung.
Counting Calories? You’ll have fewer to count if you eat hijiki instead of angel hair pasta, and use nori and dulse in place of table salt. Sea vegetables are the ideal food for dieters. The iodine and fiber they supply aid in weight loss, and as a bonus, they are alkaline forming and improve digestion.
Eat for Energy. Rich in energy-boosting minerals and trace minerals, including manganese and potassium, microalgae are fatigue erasers. Lock and load a few sea vegetables into your diet, and you may not need coffee to pick you up twice a day.
Detoxify, Strengthen Bones. Have a dulse or arame stir-fry to bolster bone density and prevent osteoporosis. Half a cup of sea vegetables offers you the calcium (in the form of calcium phosphate) in a glass of milk without the calories and the fat, plus more iron than two eggs. A bonus? It also lowers blood pressure. Hijiki is the best calcium provider among the sea vegetables. But dulse, wakame, and arame aren’t far behind. To get some detoxification benefits, sprinkle everything with a little kelp, a salt and pepper substitute or flavor enhancer that has been used to treat everything from indigestion to asthma and constipation.
Anticancer. Sea vegetables are rich in calcium, iodine, and sodium alginate. They have stopped cancer growth in both test tubes and test animals, and their presence in the Japanese diet may be one reason breast cancer occurrence in Japan is well below that in the United States. Japanese scientists also believe that phytochemicals in nori fight disease-causing bacteria, prevent ulcers, and serve as an anticoagulant.
Got Hypertension? Sip a little kombu broth, or reduce your risk for stroke with kombu stew. This marine vegetable supplies healthy levels of calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin K.
Buying, Storing, and Preparing
- Buy sea vegetables in airtight packages, and transfer to airtight containers after opening.
- Nori, which is sold in strips and sheets, can be flash-toasted and crumbled into soups, stews, and salads.
- Keep a small shaker of granulated kelp, dulse, or nori on the table to use in place of salt or pepper.
- Cooked arame or hijiki or cooked and shredded kombu can be stirred into cooked pasta dishes or used in place of cabbage in slaws and composed salads.
- Add cooked diced sea vegetables to the juicer when preparing vegetable juices.
- Cooked leftover sea vegetables will keep two to three days in the refrigerator.