Seaweed has been a long-standing staple in many Asian cultures, with North-Americanized versions of traditional Asian foods incorporating it periodically into Western cuisine. For many North Americans however, seaweed and kelp are dishes reserved for sushi restaurants, rather than everyday staples.
However, recent research has shown that it may be a hidden powerhouse of a food to add into your daily diet. Due to its low-caloric value and salty crunch, it makes it the perfect snack option for those looking to swap out chips for a healthier alternative. On top of its taste, seaweed is extremely nutritious; described by registered dietician Carolyn Brown as a “vitamin and mineral jackpot”, seaweed is full of vitamins A, E, and B, as well as calcium, magnesium, and iron—among others. This is on top of being a good source for both protein and fiber.
Other research on the sea-vegetable has shown that it contains a variety of protective antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body and can decrease inflammation, which is a leading cause of disease. It’s also been shown to decrease cholesterol, help control weight gain, and reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, among other benefits still being researched.
Though, like any good thing, too much can lead to problems. The high levels of metal and iodine in the food can lead to problems down the line if consumed in frequent large quantities, so experts suggest eating regular, small amounts of seaweed to reap the greatest health rewards.