Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables

Elizabeth's Sea Vegetable Salad

Lunch yesterday was a fabulous salad made with loads of fresh vegetables and  sea vegetables. I used the Creamy Thai Dressing from yesterday's salad dressing post. I decided to use the red pepper flakes instead of the Thai bird chilies. I like things slightly spicy, not overly spicy. The red pepper flakes gave it just the right amount of heat. I enjoyed this salad so much, I was tempted to lick my plate when it was all gone!

If you are trying sea vegetables for the first time you may want to use less than I did in my recipe. I really adore them so my recipe has quite a bit. Alter it to your tastes and I'm sure it will be fantastic.

Below the recipe I have pasted an excellent article outlining the wonderful health benefits of sea vegetables. It also points out the one sea vegetable you should steer clear of. Please read it and educate yourself. You will be truly amazed at how healthful these plants are.

Here is my recipe:

Elizabeth's Sea Vegetable Salad

2 strands of Ito-Wakame Dried Seaweed
1 C Kelp Noodles
1/2 C Sea Tangle Mixed Sea Vegetables
2 red radishes, cut into slices and quartered
1/4 of a yellow squash, sliced into half-moons
1/4 of a green zucchini, sliced into half-moons
2 leaves of red leaf lettuce, sliced into thin strips
small handful of a combo of broccoli sprouts and red clover sprouts
1/2 of a cucumber, diced

Soak the strands of Wakame in a bowl of filtered water for 30 minutes. At the same time soak the kelp noodles in a separate bowl of filtered water. Rinse off the packaging salt from the Sea Tangle Mixed Sea Vegetables and let drain. Now prepare the Creamy Thai Dressing(see yesterday's post for recipe).  After the Wakame and Kelp Noodles have been soaked for 30 minutes, rinse them well and drain. Cut into bite size strands with sharp kitchen scissors. Now you are ready to mix all of the fresh vegetables with the sea vegetables in a large bowl. Pour on the Creamy Thai Dressing and gently toss the salad. Enjoy!!

Creamy Thai Dressing (Spicy)
3/4 C sesame oil
1/2 C Tamari
1/4 C first cold pressed olive oil
1 T real maple syrup (this is not raw)
4 Thai bird chilies or 3 T red chili flakes
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 C chopped cashews, that have been soaked 1-2 hrs then air dried
Blend in blender. Yields 2 1/2 cups.

~JMJ~Today I am thankful for the beautiful song echoing in our chimney. Every morning we are blessed with mocking birds that sing the most beautiful songs to us while we enjoy our breakfast.
Peace And Take Time to Listen to the Birds!

I found the following information on this web site:
Take the time to read it. There is so much great information. Educate yourself about sea vegetables before you give them a try. I am a big fan and am totally hooked!

Sea vegetables

Western cultures are only recently beginning to enjoy the taste and nutritional value of sea vegetables, often referred to as seaweed, that have been a staple of the Japanese diet for centuries. Numerous various varieties of sea vegetables can be found in health food and specialty stores throughout the year. Owing to their rise in popularity, they are also becoming much easier to find in local supermarkets as well.
Sea vegetables can be found growing both in the marine salt waters as well as in fresh water lakes and seas. They commonly grow on coral reefs or in rocky landscapes, and can grow at great depths provided that sunlight can penetrate through the water to where they reside since, like plants, they need light for their survival. Sea vegetables are neither plants nor animals but classified in a group known as algae.

Why would anyone want to eat sea vegetables?

 Because they offer the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean-the same minerals that are found in human blood. Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K, a very good source of the B-vitamin folate, and magnesium, and a good source of iron and calcium, and the B-vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid. In addition, sea vegetables contain good amounts of lignans, plant compounds with cancer-protective properties.

Promote Optimal Health

Lignans, phytonutrients found in sea vegetables, have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis, or blood cell growth, the process through which fast-growing tumors not only gain extra nourishment, but send cancer cells out in the bloodstream to establish secondary tumors or metastases in other areas of the body. In addition, lignans have been credited with inhibiting estrogen synthesis in fat cells as effectively as some of the drugs used in cancer chemotherapy. In postmenopausal women, fat tissue is a primary site where estrogen is synthesized, and high levels of certain estrogen metabolites (the 4OH and 16OH metabolites) are considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
In addition to lignans, sea vegetables are a very good source of the B-vitamin folic acid. Studies have shown that diets high in folate-rich foods are associated with a significantly reduced risk for colon cancer.

Promote Healthy Thyroid Function

Sea vegetables, especially kelp, are nature's richest sources of iodine, which as a component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), is essential to human life. The thyroid gland adds iodine to the amino acid tyrosine to create these hormones. Without sufficient iodine, your body cannot synthesize them. Because these thyroid hormones regulate metabolism in every cell of the body and play a role in virtually all physiological functions, an iodine deficiency can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being. A common sign of thyroid deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, commonly called a goiter. Goiters are estimated to affect 200 million people worldwide, and in all but 4% of these cases, the cause is iodine deficiency.

Nutrient Prevention of Birth Defects and Cardiovascular Disease

The folic acid so abundant in sea vegetables plays a number of other very important protective roles. Studies have demonstrated that adequate levels of folic acid in the diet are needed to prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida. Folic acid is also needed to break down an intermediate dangerous chemical produced during the methylation cycle called homocysteine. (Methylation is one of the most important cellular cycles through which a wide variety of important chemicals are produced.) Homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls, and high levels of this chemical are associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Flavoring soups and stews with sea vegetables or using them in salads is a smart strategy, especially for those dealing with atherosclerosis or diabetic heart disease.

Sea vegetables pack a double punch against heart disease. In addition to their folic acid, sea vegetables are a very good source of magnesium, which has also been shown to reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart attack.

Anti-Inflammatory Action

Some sea vegetables have been shown to be unique sources of carbohydrate-like substances called fucans, which can reduce the body's inflammatory response. Plus, as noted above, sea vegetables are a very good source of magnesium, the mineral that, by acting as a natural relaxant, has been shown to help prevent migraine headaches and to reduce the severity of asthma symptoms.

Relief for Menopausal Symptoms

Sea vegetable's supply of relaxing magnesium may also help restore normal sleep patterns in women who are experiencing symptoms of menopause. And the lignans in sea vegetables can act as very weak versions of estrogen, one of the hormones whose levels decrease during the menopausal period. For women suffering from symptoms such as hot flashes, sea vegetable's lignans may be just strong enough to ease their discomfort.


Sea vegetables, often called seaweed, are one of Neptune's beautiful jewels, adorning the waters with life and providing us with a food that can enhance our diets, from both a culinary and nutritional perspective. Sea vegetables can be found growing both in the marine salt waters as well as in fresh water lakes and seas. They commonly grow on coral reefs or in rocky landscapes, and can grow at great depths provided that sunlight can penetrate through the water to where they reside since, like plants, they need light for their survival. Yet, sea vegetables are not plants nor animals-they are actually known as algae.

There are thousands of types of sea vegetables that are classified into categories by color, known either as brown, red or green sea vegetables. Each is unique, having a distinct shape, taste and texture. Although not all sea vegetables that exist are presently consumed, a wide range of sea vegetables are enjoyed as foods. The following are some of the most popular types: Nori: dark purple-black color that turns phosphorescent green when toasted, famous for its role in making sushi rolls. Kelp: light brown to dark green in color, oftentimes available in flake form. Hijiki: looks like small strands of black wiry pasta, has a strong flavor. Kombu: very dark in color and generally sold in strips or sheets, oftentimes used as a flavoring for soups. Wakame: similar to kombu, most commonly used to make Japanese miso soup. Arame: this lacy, wiry sea vegetable is sweeter and milder in taste than many others Dulse: soft, chewy texture and a reddish-brown color.


The consumption of sea vegetables enjoys a long history throughout the world. Archaeological evidence suggests that Japanese cultures have been consuming sea vegetables for more than 10,000 years. In ancient Chinese cultures, sea vegetables were a noted delicacy, suitable especially for honored guests and royalty. Yet, sea vegetables were not just limited to being a featured part of Asian cuisines. In fact, most regions and countries located by waters, including Scotland, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and coastal South American countries have been consuming sea vegetables since ancient times.
Presently, Japan is the largest producer and exporter of sea vegetables. This may explain why many of these precious foods are often called by their Japanese names.

How to Select and Store

Look for sea vegetables that are sold in tightly sealed packages. Avoid those that have evidence of excessive moisture. Some types of sea vegetables are sold in different forms. For example, nori can be found in sheets, flakes, or powder. Choose the form of sea vegetables that will best meet your culinary needs.
Store sea vegetables in tightly sealed containers at room temperature where they can stay fresh for at least several months.

Individual Concerns

Sea vegetables have been a topic of ongoing debate and research concern involving heavy metals. In the world of marine biology and marine ecology, sea vegetables are widely recognized as plants with an excellent ability to take up minerals from the water and hold onto these minerals in their cells. This ability makes sea vegetables a rich source of many wonderful minerals, including magnesium, calcium, iron, and iodine. However, in waters that have become polluted with heavy metal elements - including arsenic, lead, and cadmium - sea vegetables can also act like a sponge in absorbing these unwanted contaminants. Some marine ecologists actually use sea vegetables as a kind of "biomonitor" to determine levels of heavy metal pollution in bodies of water.
Among all of the heavy metals, arsenic appears to be most problematic when it comes to sea vegetable toxicity risk. Virtually all types of sea vegetables have been determined to contain traces of arsenic. These types include arame, hijiki, kombu, nori, and wakame. Among all types of sea vegetable, however, hijiki stands out as being particularly high-risk when it comes to arsenic exposure. During the period 2000-2005, government-related agencies in England, New Zealand, and Canada issued public health recommendations advising against consumption of hijiki sea vegetable unless verified as containing very low levels of inorganic arsenic. Based on these reports, we recommend avoidance of hijiki as a sea vegetable unless available in the form of certified organic hijiki.
The levels of arsenic found in other types of sea vegetable have been relatively small. For example, after preparation using water soaking, a British study found wakame to contain an average of 3 milligrams arsenic per kilogram of sea vegetable. In practical terms, this amount represents about 43 micrograms per half ounce of wakame. However, even in this case of relatively small exposure, health risks appear possible. Our reason for posting information about these possible risks involves a decision by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1993 to set an oral Reference Dose (RfD) level of .0003 milligrams per kilogram of body weight per day for inorganic arsenic. In practical terms, this maximum safe dose level would allow an adult weighing 150 lbs. to consume about 20 micrograms of inorganic arsenic every day and stay beneath the RfD level. While a person might be unlikely to eat sea vegetables on a daily basis, you can see from this example how an arsenic-related health risk might be possible with routine consumption of an arsenic-containing sea vegetable. It's important to note here that scientists continue to debate the health risks associated with inorganic (versus organic) forms of arsenic, and that the arsenic found in sea vegetables exists primarily in an inorganic form. It is also important to note that methods of preparing sea vegetables can make a difference in the amount of arsenic found in edible portions.

We continue to include sea vegetables among the World's Healthiest Foods because of their incredibly rich mineral content and other unique health benefits, and because the toxicity risks described above can be prevented through the purchase of certified organic sea vegetables! Because most certified organic sea vegetables can be purchased in dried form and reconstituted at home, they can often be ordered from outside of your local area and shipped to you at a relatively low cost.

Nutritional Profile

Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K and a very good source of folate and magnesium. They are also a good source of the B-vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid. In addition, sea vegetables are a good source of the minerals iron and calcium.

For an in-depth nutritional profile click here: Sea vegetables.
In-Depth Nutritional Profile

In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Sea vegetables is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart

In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition. This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling." Read more background information and details of our rating system.

Kelp (sea vegetable)

0.25 cup

20.00 grams

8.60 calories

Nutrient Amount DV

(%) Nutrient

Density World's Healthiest

Foods Rating

iodine 415.00 mcg 276.7 579.1 excellent

vitamin K 13.20 mcg 16.5 34.5 excellent

folate 36.00 mcg 9.0 18.8 very good

magnesium 24.20 mg 6.0 12.7 very good

calcium 33.60 mg 3.4 7.0 good

iron 0.57 mg 3.2 6.6 good

tryptophan 0.01 g 3.1 6.5 good

World's Healthiest

Foods Rating Rule

excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%

very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%

good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Sea vegetables


Blondin C, Chaubet F, Nardella A, et al. Relationships between chemical characteristics and anticomplementary activity of fucans. Biomaterials 1996 Mar;17(6):597-603 1996. PMID:11800.

Blondin C, Fischer E, Boisson-Vidal C, et al. Inhibition of complement activation by natural sulfated polysaccharides (fucans) from brown seaweed. Mol Immunol 1994;31(4):247-253 1994.

Ensminger AH, Esminger M. K. J. e. al. Food for Health: A Nutrition Encyclopedia. Clovis, California: Pegus Press; 1986 1986. PMID:15210.

Goldbeck N, Goldbeck D. The Healthiest Diet in the World. Plume (Penguin Putnam Inc.) NY, 2001, pp 378-80 2001.

Terry P, Jain M, Miller AB et al. Dietary intake of folic acid and colorectal cancer risk in a cohort of women. Int J Cancer 2002 Feb 20;97(6):864-7 2002.

Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988 1988. PMID:15220.

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