When we talk about getting our daily dose of greens, most of us think of plants grown on a farm and pulled from ground. Not all vegetables are earthbound, though. In fact, some of the most delicious and nutritious plants around come from the deep blue sea.
Low in calories and packed with nutrients, seaweeds are said to help regulate hormones and benefit the digestive system. That’s not all, though: the American Cancer Society also believes seaweed may help decrease chances of cancer, stating,
In laboratory studies and some animal studies, compounds from several types of algae have slowed the growth of cancer cells and caused cancer cells to die, often by a process of natural cell death called apoptosis.”
Unfortunately, these super foods aren’t always well known, especially in the Western world. Not to worry though, we have taken the mystery out of these maritime munchies with a list of our favorite five, along with recipes to try them out. If you have trouble finding them, venture on down to the closest Japanese market (if your city has one!).
1. Kelp – Rich in fiber and minerals, this salty, fresh-tasting seaweed can be paired with noodles, salads, beans and casseroles, just to name a few. Curious? Give this recipe for Kelp Pot Noodle a try.
2. Nori - Low in calories and bursting with Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin A and Magnesium, this salty seaweed is perhaps best known for making sushi. That’s not all it’s good for though. Nori also works well as a garnish for things like hummus, soups, salads and rice. Give this Nori Chips and Poke recipe a try.
3. Hijiki – known to benefit the digestive system, this fiber filled seaweed is also packed with Vitamin K, Calcium, Iron and Magnesium, not to mention Iodine. When dried, Hijiki resembles twigs or black tea. It is wonderful for flavoring foods of all kinds but pairs especially well with stir-fry, root vegetables, salads and beans. Try it out for yourself with this simple Hijiki Salad recipe.
4. Kombu – This tasty seaweed comes from the kelp family. In addition to boasting all four flavors, salty, sweet, sour and bitter, Kombu also holds a fifth, “Umami” flavor which comes from the glutamic acid it contains. Rich in Calcium, Iron and Iodine, Kombu adds wonderful flavor to broths, stews and soups. Try this recipe for this Kombu Vegetable Soup Stock.
5. Arame – Mild in flavor this seaweed is a great for the novice seaweed eater. That doesn’t mean it lacks in quality though. Arame is rich in Calcium, Iron, Zinc and Manganese as well as vitamins A and K, and Iodine. When dried, this dark twiggy seaweed works well when paired with mushrooms, winter squash, greens, or white beans. Don’t take our word for it though, give this recipe for Portobelo Poke with Arame a try.
- Sea Vegetables via American Cancer Society
- Kelp Pot Noodle via Vogue
- A Nutritional Profile on Kelp via SFGate
- Nori Chips via HonestlyYum
- Nori Nutrition via LiveStrong
- Hijiki Salad via PBS
- Health Benefits of Hijiki via OrganicFacts
- What are the Health Benefits of Kombu Seaweed via LiveStrong
- Vegetable Soup Stock via Gormande in the Kitchen
- Portobelo Poke via Vegetarian Times
- Detox Benefits of Arame Seaweed via Daily Superfood Love