Most folks these days are mineral deficient. Minerals, as in: calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, iodine, sodium, zinc, selenium, etc….What’s the big deal you may ask? Minerals are needed not just for our bones but for our muscles to contract and relax, for all enzymes to function properly, nearly every physiological process involves a mineral.
One of the best ways to get minerals is to eat lots of vegetables and some fruits. If you want a mineral packed source – turn to the sea.
Sea vegetables or seaweed are actually algae and contain nearly all the minerals needed by humans. These mineral include: calcium, magnesium, sodium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc and numerous trace minerals. Sea vegetables also contain important vitamins: beta carotene, B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C, pantothenic acid and folic acid. It also, contains varying amounts of protein depending on type with the some red algae having amounts comparable to legumes.
Common sea vegetables are brown algae: arame, hijiki, kombu (aka kelp), wakame, agar-agar; and red algae: dulse, irish moss (carrageen) nori (aka laver).
Of note hijiki contains high amounts of calcium; kelp or kombu contains high amounts of magnesium; dulse is high in B6, iron and potassium.
Health Benefits include aiding in detoxification of the body (binding to heavy metals), source of minerals, support digestion, support the immune system, beneficial for bone, anemia, aid with hormone balance, may aid with weight loss by induce fat burning, lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, reducing blood pressure and reducing risk of metabolic syndrome.
One study showed the ability of iodine or iodine-rich seaweed to inhibit breast tumor development: Smyth PPA. The thyroid, iodine and breast cancer. Breast Cancer Res. 2003;5:235-238.
Sea vegetables are also a source of lignans (also found in flax seed) which are thought to play a role in preventing certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.
Here are some easy ways to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet
· Add a piece of kombu or kelp in a pot of beans, soups and stocks
· A pinch to a handful of most any sea vegetable to any long cooked dishes such as lentil & bean soups, stews, chilis, etc
· Sprinkle flaked or cut up pieces of sea vegetables on salads, over rice or other grains.
· Use flaked sea vegetable as a seasoning in place of salt
· Add a small amount into baked goods
· Add to a sandwich
· Dry into snack chips
This is a favorite soup recipe which features laver or nori:
Laver Egg Drop Soup
4 cups chicken stock
4 sheets of nori, torn into small pieces
1 Tbs corn starch
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs shaoshing wine or sherry
3 scallions, sliced
¼ tsp ground white pepper
¼ tsp toasted sesame oil
Stir together 1/2 cup of chicken stock with the cornstarch, set aside.
Lighty beat eggs.
In a medium size pot, heat together remaining chicken stock with ginger,
soy sauce, pepper and wine with the nori pieces. Bring to a boil, stir in the
cornstarch slurry. Let simmer. Add the scallions.
Turn off heat. While stirring the soup in a clockwise direction, slowly
add the egg in a thin stream. Garnish with a few drops of sesame oil.