What is seaweed?
Seaweed is a term that is used for a variety of sea vegetables. It is highly nutritious and is used in many different dishes. Because seaweed has an ability to absorb the iodine in the ocean, it is considered to be high in iodine and one of the best sources of iodine!
There are many different types of seaweed, all of them have different nutritional profiles. Some of the most common edible ones are: wakame, kelp, nori, comb, sea lettuce and chlorella. There are many different ways of eating seaweed, you can eat it as a snack, put it in your salad and even make it as soup.
How much iodine is in seaweed?
It is a great low calorie food that is packed with nutrients and full of natural iodine. However, the amount of iodine does depend on which type of seaweed you are eating and where it is grown. If you are planning on increasing your iodine levels by eating seaweed, kombu seaweed offers the highest amount of iodine. In fact, it contains up to 2,984mcg of iodine per 1 gram of seaweed sheet. This is almost 2000% of your daily recommended iodine intake!
Kombu is much harder to digest by itself and therefore it is often used for its flavor in soup. In Japan, it is popular to use kombu in soup stock. In addition, you might find some kombu snacks in which they are picked in vinegar and dried.
What does iodine do for your body?
Iodine is an element that is important for growth and brain development. In addition, it helps with the thyroid gland in your neck to help make the hormone thyroxine. Because our body does not make iodine by itself, we need to eat food that are rich in iodine. A typical adult will require around 150mcg of iodine per day and pregnant women will require 220mcg of iodine per day.
If you do not have enough iodine, you might be more prone to being tired, feeling cold and have difficulty concentrating. Eating too much iodine is harmful as well! Having high iodine levels can cause you to have inflammation in your thyroid gland and eventually cause thyroid cancer. Some short term symptoms are burning of the mouth and throat, fever, nausea and stomach pain.
Eating seaweed for your body
For those of you who are vegan or eat mainly a plant based diet, seaweed might be a safe food for those who need to increase their uptake of iodine. It is relatively cheap and really easy to eat or put into your meals.
However, you need to know that seaweed is high in iodine! This means that you might consume way too much seaweed. Eating too much seaweed might cause you to have a high iodine exposure and thereby it might lead to a thyroid condition.
Therefore, it is very important you eat seaweed in moderation. Because the rates of iodine is different for different types of seaweed, it makes it a little hard to determine how much seaweed you can eat. But in general, you should stick to around 5g to 10g of seaweed everyday.
Seaweed is also high in antioxidants
Not only does seaweed have high amounts of iodine, it also contains a variety of helpful antioxidants. Eating antioxidants can help your body make unstable compounds called free radicals less active in your body. This means that it is protective and prevents free radicals from damaging your cells.
In addition, a carotenoid called fucoxanthin that is found in wakame is known to have 13.5 times more the antioxidant capacity than vitamin E. It also has been suggested to be able to protect your cell membranes.
Weight loss benefits of seaweed
Seaweed is low in calories while also containing a decent amounts of fiber. Around 25% to 75% of its dry weight is made up of fiber. Most of the fiber is in the form of polysaccharides, which is a type of fiber we cannot digest, instead it is very beneficial to our gut microbes. This means that it will help slow down your stomach emptying and therefore you should feel fuller for a longer time and crave less to eat.
Scientists have also found that a compound in seaweed might be able to stop your body from absorbing fat. A study showed that alginate can help suppress the fat that is digested in the gut. Alginate was able to reduce the breakdown of fat using a digestive enzyme called pancreatic lipase.