Why eat seaweed?
Seaweeds’ collectively are superfoods. There are several important ways edible seaweeds can contribute to a healthy diet. They contain many minerals and vitamins which are easily absorbed by the body, have a high concentration of fibre (which helps to absorb sugars more slowly) and contain many healthy fatty acids and essential amino acids.
Seaweeds are like sponges – they absorb nutrients directly from the water. Each species has a different composition as they are affected by water temperature, nutrients, age, the amount of sunlight, the time of harvest and the way it’s dried and stored. It’s important to eat a range of sea weeds because each species offers something a bit different from a nutritional perspective. Additionally, where they grow, the way they are harvested and dried can also impact what nutritional value a seaweed offers.
Seaweeds offer a vegetarian and vegan friendly solution and many can be enjoyed raw, so offer a whole new world of opportunities for those following plant based or raw diets. But whatever your dietary preference, you will benefit from including a little seaweed into your daily food choices because they offer:
- High protein – seaweeds contain many of the essential amino acids. Red and green seaweeds typically contain higher protein, comparable to that of protein rich land vegetables
- Low calorie - On average there are around 120-240 calories in 100g of dried seaweed.
- Carbohydrates – seaweeds contain digestible sugars, insoluable fibre and soluble fibres. Different seaweeds contain different amounts of carbohydrates (which can be impacted by seasonality and where they grow).
- High Nutritional Fibre – can be up to 60% when dried. When we eat seaweed, they absorb water from the stomach and expand, forming a gelatin-like structure which can make us feel full.
- Low fat (about 1-5% of seaweed’s dry weight) – fatty acids in seaweeds are mostly unsaturated and provide essential fatty acids which are important for brain function (omega-3 and omega -6)
- Vitamins – Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C and E are found in many seaweeds
- Minerals and trace elements – seaweeds actively absorb minerals from the water – typically they can have 10 to 100 times more minerals than what is found in other common land plants. Seaweeds are well regarded as the best natural source of iodine, but they are also rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, sodium, potassium. Additionally other trace elements such as zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and chromium are found in seaweeds.
There are thousands of species of seaweeds and each is distinctive. If you would like to know more about a particular seaweed’s nutritional profile please visit our product pages in the shop. We also recommend careful review of the nutritional panel on the reverse of each packet of seaweed you purchase as each seaweed has a different make up.
There are also many blog articles on our site with more detailed information.
Check out the recipe section to be inspired to bring delicious and nutritious seaweeds into your every day meals.
Can eating seaweed be bad for me?
The short answer is yes, this is possible.
Seaweed also absorbs toxins from the water (PCBs and dioxins, heavy metals and radioactive substances) which are harmful to humans. This can vary depending on where the seaweed is harvested, when it’s harvested in the season, how it’s dried. This is why it’s important to only consume seaweeds which have been dried properly, collected from a clean environment (ideally tested for contaminants), and packed in food grade licensed premises.
Additionally, some seaweeds also produce kainic acid and iodine, large amounts of which should not be consumed. Please pay attention to nutritional information on the back of each bag.
Pacific Harvest recommends seaweed is a supplement to your regular diet on a regular basis, rather than eating large quantities occasionally.
A small amount packs a big punch!
If you have health concerns, we strongly recommend you follow the advice of a nutritional or medical professional.