Sea vegetables - many health benefits[English - Bahasa] Print
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Sea vegetables - many health benefits…

[English]

Seaweeds or sea vegetables, such as nori, kombu, hijiki, arame and others, have become very important in the modern diet for two reasons:

  1. They are rich in minerals whereas regular vegetables, because of modern, chemicalised farming techniques, nowadays tend to be very lacking in minerals. In fact, seaweeds are considered among the most nutritious plants on earth.
  2. Sea vegetables protect against – and counter the effects of – radiation. In our modern lifestyle, we are constantly exposed to all types of low level radiation, from computer monitors, mobile phones, flying in aeroplanes etc, including, of course, radiation used in medical diagnostics such as x-rays and CAT scans.
Many people think of seaweeds as "Japanese food". Well, the good thing about the growing popularity of Japanese – and Korean – cuisine is that more people are eating seaweeds these days.

However, seaweeds have traditionally been consumed by people throughout the world, not just by the Japanese or Koreans but also by the Filipinos, Indonesians as well as by Western cultures like the Irish and Scandinavians.

Click here to learn how to use some common sea vegetables like kombu, nori, wakame, hijiki, arame and agar agar.

And it is not just the people living close to the sea who consume seaweeds.

Dr Weston Price, a dentist known for his studies on the diet and health of traditional societies during the early part of the 20th century, found that even people living in the Andes carried a small bag of seaweed and ate a small amount of it everyday. These high mountain dwellers obtained seaweed by trading with coastal Indians and would not do without it.
Seaweeds are especially rich in calcium and iodine.

In fact, nutritionists and dieticians who say that milk is the “best" source of calcium are saying this out of ignorance about seaweeds. Varieties such as hijiki contain up to 14 times as much calcium as milk. Other types may contain at least seven times more calcium than milk.

Iodine – which is needed for thyroid function and which, in turn, affects body metabolism – is another important mineral found in sea vegetables. As an aside, the need for iodine is a compelling reason for using sea salt in cooking, instead of regular refined salt which has all the iodine and other minerals removed.

And sea salt fortified with iodine is not the answer. The quality of iodine used in fortification is not the same and you still miss out on other important minerals.

Seaweeds can contain up to 20,000 per cent more iodine compared with land vegetables.

Seaweeds also supply:
  1. chromium – an essential mineral for glucose utilization and the control of diabetes
  2. zinc – for men's sexual health as well as healthy skin
  3. iron – for blood
  4. potassium – for heart health
  5. copper, sulphur, silver, tin, zirconium, phosphorous, and silicon, magnesium, manganese, boron, bromides and lots of other trace minerals necessary for health.
Some nutritionists / dieticians have expressed concern about the content of sodium in sea vegetables.

Some years back, a friend of mine wrote to the press recommending seaweeds instead of milk as an excellent source of calcium, and a nutritionist warned that sea vegetables might lead to high blood pressure as they are high in sodium.

Such a warning is not supported by any scientific evidence – as there have never been any scientific studies that show that eating seaweeds causes high blood pressure.

If anything, population studies indicate that people who eat sea vegetables regularly tend to enjoy excellent health. The Hawaiians, for example, have low rates of heart disease even though they tend to be stocky and highly overweight. They attribute this to their regular consumption of seaweeds.


Other benefits of seaweeds

Seaweeds are also rich in antioxidants that protect us from degenerative diseases such cancer as well as slow down the aging process.

Plus, they are noted for their ability to bind with toxic heavy metals and radioactive pollutants – such as mercury, lead, cadmium and radioactive strontium, which is in fact one of the most hazardous pollutants present in the world today due to nuclear power plants, testing of nuclear weapons, etc.
Studies have shown that seaweeds can remove up to 90 percent of radioactive strontium 90 from the intestinal tract. And sodium alginates found in sea vegetables actually chelate the remaining amount out of the bone structure.

But because sea vegetables bind with toxic pollutants, it is important to obtain them from clean waters.

Most commercially available seaweed are grown or harvested from seabeds far from polluted areas. Do not collect your own seaweeds near a city or in a polluted environment.

 

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