Seaweed has long been an essential part of the Japanese diet and noted for its healing properties in the East since 3000 BC, now modern cuisine has begun to embrace mineral rich marine algae with abundance. Seaweed, also known as sea vegetables, are predominantly edible with varieties that include wrack, kelp, laver (nori), sea lettuce and dulse. They possess a highly concentrated source of nutrients, including high protein and iron content, with high levels of manganese, potassium, phosphorous, sodium, zinc and calcium.
Many seaweeds contain sizable amounts of vitamin A, B, C & D and are one of the few plant foods to produce vitamin B12, making it an excellent addition to a vegan diet. Nori is extremely high in protein and may also be used crumbled over salads and soups, while some are rich in fibre, iron and calcium and have a sweet delicate flavour. Seaweed has an alkalising effect on the blood and contains mucilaginous gels which have a rejuvenating effect on the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. Roasting kombu it develops a rich salty, umami flavour, a little like liquorice.
In 2010 I certified with Paul Pitchford, author of Healing with Whole Foods who declares that sea vegetables and seaweeds are the highest plant source of minerals. Minerals in seaweeds (and any plant) are much more easily assimilated than minerals in supplements, which are often from non-living sources. By rotating various seaweeds through a diet, all minerals, including the trace minerals, are made available. Sea vegetables are the richest source of magnesium including wakame, kombu, kelp, hijiki, arame and dulse.
Did you know that by adding seaweeds to legumes while they are cooking helps to soften them and also helps to detoxify them? For improved flavour and digestion, more nutrients, and faster cooking, place soaked kombu or kelp seaweed in the bottom of the pot. Add 1 part seaweed to 6 or more parts legumes. Use seaweed soak water to cook grains and vegetables to boost the nutrient content.
Seaweed draws down carbon
“Seaweed grows 30 times faster than land based plants and as the oceans are 72 percent of the surface of the Earth, biodiversity is returning through seaweed farming. Kelp farming is already a multi-billion dollar a year industry. The biggest scoping study done on the potential for using seaweed to draw down CO2 was done at the University of the South Pacific in 2012. They established that if we could cover nine percent of the ocean in seaweed farms we could basically offset all of our global annual emissions.“
– Tim Flannery