Have you had your sea vegetables today?

Western cultures are just starting to appreciate the favors and nutrition of sea vegetables, or “seaweed,” as it is more commonly known. The Japanese, on the other hand, have made sea vegetables a staple of their diets for centuries. To get your daily dose, shop at health food and specialty stores, and even your local supermarket as they gain in popularity.

Where do sea vegetables come from?

Sea vegetables grow in marine salt waters as well as in fresh water lakes and seas. They are often found on coral reefs or in rocky landscapes. With sunlight, they can grow deep under water. Sea vegetables, however, are not categorized as plants or animals. They are classified as algae.

Japan is one of the largest sea vegetable producers and exporters, so the Japanese names for sea vegetables are the most common. When shopping for sea vegetables look for names like nori, hijiki, wakame, arame, and kombu:

·      Nori: dark purple-black color; phosphorescent green when toasted; used for sushi rolls 

·      Hijiki: resembles strands of black wiry pasta; strong flavor 

·      Wakame: usually used to make Japanese miso soup 

·      Arame: lacy, wiry sea vegetable; sweeter and milder in taste

·      Kombu: very dark; sold in strips or sheets,;used as a soup flavoring

·      Kelp: light brown to dark green, usually in flake form

·      Dulse: soft, chewy with a reddish-brown color

What are the health benefits of sea vegetables?

Sea vegetable research reveals them to be excellent for their anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and cardiovascular benefits. Sea vegetables are an excellent source of iodine, vitamin C, manganese, and vitamin B2. They are also a very good source of vitamin A, protein, pantothenic acid, potassium, iron, zinc, vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, and vitamin B1.  Sea vegetables may be a better source of iron and vanadium, which play an important role in the regulation of carbohydrate metabolism and blood sugar.

How do I prepare sea vegetables?

Make sushi rolls by wrapping rice and favorite vegetables in nori sheets, or sprinkle on top of salads. Try mixing soaked hijiki, shredded carrots, ginger, olive oil, and soy sauce.

Read the full article here: Sea Vegetables