Sea vegetables are not common staples in the Standard American Diet, but they have been enjoyed for thousands of years in the Asian diet. Whether sea vegetables are brown, green, purple or red, they all contain a number of beneficial nutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, B complex, including B12, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron and trace minerals. Some sea veggies even provide protein, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
Sea vegetables are high in natural sodium, but when balanced with potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and many other critical trace minerals present in these nutrient-rich foods, they provide an optimal nutrient profile for promoting vibrant health. Many sea vegetables are also an excellent source of iodine and vitamin K.
Sea vegetables are not just prized in Asian cuisine, but also by medical researchers due to the discovery of their high fucoidan content. Fucoidans are unique, starch-like (polysaccharide) molecules that promote healthy responses to inflammation.
Improve Iron Absorption
Sea vegetables also contain both iron and vitamin C, which is an important combination that allows for improved absorption of iron in the body since vitamin C improves the bioavailability of iron from plants. In fact, Mediterranean cultures have a healthy habit of using freshly squeezed lemon juice and olive oil over dark green leafy vegetables, which enhances flavor as well as iron absorption.
Some of the most common sea vegetables include Nori, Hijiki, Kombu, Wakame, and Arame, which are all distinctly beneficial for maintaining vitality. Here’s a closer look at the nutrients each one provides:
Nori: You’ve probably eaten nori before as it is most commonly used to make sushi rolls. Nori is high in iodine and vitamin C. It also contains protein and B12 – a much needed vitamin for those who have issues with nutrient absorption or who consume little to no animal products.
Hijiki: Black and stringy with a strong flavor, Hijiki is especially high in calcium.
Kombu: A type of kelp rich in fucoidans, which help reduce inflammation, promote healthy blood flow and offer cardiovascular benefits. Just a quarter cup of kelp provides over 250 percent of your daily value of iodine and over 30 percent of your daily requirement for vitamin K. It is also rich in folate and magnesium.
Wakame: Often used in Japanese miso soup, Wakame provides excellent amounts of calcium, magnesium, fiber, and potassium.
Arame: Sweeter and milder in taste than many others, it is a good source of potassium, which promotes healthy heart and muscle function.
Promote Healthy Detoxification
The health benefits of sea vegetables are especially unique and powerful, as they also contain compounds called alginates. Sodium alginate, found in kelp, has the ability to bind to toxins, heavy metals and dangerous radioactive particles. Certain forms of sodium alginates have the ability to bind to toxins in the digestive tract and prevent them from being reabsorbed by the body. When combined with modified citrus pectin, modified sodium alginates offer natural detoxification that is both gentle and highly effective in removing harmful heavy metals, environmental toxins and radioactive particles from the body. The combination of pectin and alginates is a powerful strategy for natural detoxification, as these two ingredients function together to bind to toxins and allow your body to safely excrete them without depleting levels of essential vitamins and minerals.
By Dr. Isaac Eliaz M.D., L.Ac., M.S.
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