Seaweed is a type of marine algae that comes in three forms: brown, red and green. The most widely consumed seaweeds are brown algae, which include varieties of kelp.
Often incorporated into processed foods as an additive, seaweed is a high-quality ingredient, loaded with fibre, vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds. Plus, it’s a sustainable crop that takes up no land and produces no greenhouse gases. So, give yourself—and the Earth— a “kelping” hand by adding more seaweed to your diet.
- Happy Heart: The natural umami flavour of seaweed can promote satiety, regulate food intake and reduce cravings for sugar, salt and fat. But that’s not all! As an additive in processed foods—which is more common than you might think—seaweed can be used as a salt substitute, and can increase fibre and antioxidant content. Unlike table salt (sodium chloride), the potassium and magnesium salts in seaweed don’t contribute to high blood pressure and heart disease. Eating seaweed as part of a weight management strategy may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. Alginate, a natural fibre found in kelp, can have physiological benefits when incorporated into food, including improved glycemic control and reduced fat absorption.
- Bang-up Bioactivity: Seaweed has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may be of use in preventive health applications. Fucoidan, with its anti-carcinogenic effects, is the best-known polysaccharide in brown seaweeds. Traditional Japanese diets include much more seaweed than the typical Western diet, which could be why there is a lower incidence of certain types of cancers in Japan. Researchers are exploring whether dietary seaweed can help protect against hormone-related cancers, like breast cancer, as well as melanoma. Compounds derived from seaweed also show promise for the development of sunblock that protects the skin without harming sensitive marine environments. Palythine, a powerful antioxidant found in seaweed, may effectively absorb the sun’s harmful rays while also protecting against UVR-induced damage, oxidative stress and photo-aging.
- Pro Neuroprotection: There are many important polyunsaturated fatty acids and antioxidants in seaweed that may help defend against cognitive disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Polyphenols, such as phlorotannins—exclusively produced by brown seaweed—show potential as a starting point for developing natural, marine-derived alternatives to conventional medications. Phlorotannins contain disease-modifying agents that modulate central nervous system enzymes and may help regulate neurological signalling pathways. Some researchers even speculate whether seaweeds (along with other shore-based marine resources) provided our ancestors with the essential nutrients for human brain evolution and development.
Kelp is one of the best sources of iodine, which is vital for proper thyroid function and hormone regulation.
Try this superfood in our Sesame Seaweed Salad.