Seaweeds: So Good for You

Seaweeds are an amazing group of plants with many health benefits. As they grow, they concentrate minerals directly from the ocean water, making them excellent sources of much-needed and often depleted trace minerals. These include potassium, iodine, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium. Iodine in particular must come from either seafoods or fortified commercial foods, as no land plants supply iodine. Seaweeds are also great sources of many vitamins, especially A, C, and several B vitamins, including the sometimes elusive B12. Some seaweeds, such as nori or laver, contain good amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids.

Seaweeds are packed with essential nutrients and have many benefits to offer, but it can be hard for many Americans to find an easy way to consume seaweeds. A simple method is to make a seaweed-based condiment at home that can replace table salt in many dishes. Japanese cuisine has a great version call gomasio. It’s a great way to introduce seaweed in small amounts, which gives your digestive microflora time to adapt to this new food.

*A note of caution: While everyone needs iodine in one form or another, some individuals are very sensitive to excess iodine, especially those with hyperthyroid conditions. These individuals should consult their doctor before beginning any seaweed or seafood dietary additions. Similarly individuals who are sensitive to shellfish or other seafoods should consult their doctor and proceed with caution.

Seaweed Condiment Recipe (Gomasio)

1 cup sesame seeds (lightly toasted)

½ cup seaweed (kelp, kombu, dulse, or wakame, or a mixture)

2 tsp sea salt (optional)

Lightly grind all ingredients together (a coffee mill works well). You may wish to grind the seaweed with the sea salt first and then lightly grind the sesame seeds last to just break the hulls but not reduce the seeds into powder. Mix thoroughly and put in an airtight jar. Sprinkle on food for a lightly nutty, toasty, and salty taste. I especially gomasio for rice and other grain dishes, as well as on prepared noodles.

[written by Charles]