All seaweeds can broadly be divided into three groups – red, green and brown. Just as we know we should eat a variety of land vegetable colours, so should we eat a variety of seaweed colours for optimal health.
Brown seaweeds are known for their high iodine content. This group includes some of the largest sea plants, some of them part of large under-water forests. There are about 160 species of brown seaweeds in New Zealand. Although grouped as ‘brown’, their colour may vary. The most popular edible species of brown seaweed are: Kelp / Kombu, Wakame, Sea Spaghetti & Bladderwrack.
What are the Health Benefits of Brown Seaweeds?
In addition to their relatively high iodine content, brown seaweeds contain a high concentration of minerals & trace elements, especially calcium, magnesium, potassium & zinc. They also contain Omega 3 & 6 fatty acids in a favourable ratio (1/2). The key value in eating brown seaweeds regularly (in carefully monitored quantities due to the high iodine level) includes a number of benefits for optimal health:
- Nourishing the thyroid gland & brain
- Balancing hormones
- Improving metabolism & facilitating weight loss
- Removing radioactivity, heavy metals & environmental toxins from the body
- Naturally inhibiting cancer cell growth
- Soothing the skin and the digestive tract
- supporting bone & joint health
There is ongoing research to explore how brown seaweeds may be critical to solving degenerative diseases as they have a number of excellent properties, including alginates (detox radiations & heavy metals), fucoidan (cancer & infections), laminarin (cardio-vascular health) & lignans (oestrogen related illnesses). The compound ‘Fucoxanthin’ which gives the olive-brown colour to the seaweeds, is being researched for its therapeutic effects on weight management, diabetes and cancer.
How to use Brown Seaweeds in the Kitchen
- Drink miso soup with Wakame regularly.
- Use Sea Spaghetti instead of noodles in soups or as an ingredient in winter salads
- Sprinkle Kelp instead of salt on food; it tastes salty & provides a better balance of minerals
- Use Kombu when cooking beans & pulses – it aids digestion & reduces cooking time
- Make seaweed stock with Kombu: it is quick, easy, healthy & delicious
Visit our recipe section for more ideas on how to use brown seaweeds regularly in your kitchen.
Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and should be verified by a qualified health practitioner for specific & individual needs & requirements.