Seaweed has come a long way. A really long way in fact, as it is one of the most ancient forms of life on earth. More recently, seaweed has gone from a much ignored beach nuisance to the tables of top restaurants around the world to take its’ place as a prized vegetable and rich source of nutrients. Here’s why should you include seaweed in your daily diet.
Reason 1: (the big one first) seaweeds are incredibly good for you. They contain every nutrient you need to live, from Vitamin C to Omega 3 which make them super all-round nourishing. What they are fantastic at is minerals so depending on the seaweed you are eating you will be enriching your body’s supply of iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine – all of which are essential for life and the health of your skin, hair, organs and bones.
Reason 2: Did you know that most people in the UK are deficient in iodine? A recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that the majority of people – especially women – are iodine deficient. This can cause all kinds of symptoms including fatigue, depression, difficulties in weight management and – in severe cases – birth defects. Even if you think you eat a relatively healthy diet you could still be deficient. Here’s what you need to eat per day to get your daily RDA of iodine:
- 2/3 eggs
- 5 whole mackerel
- 3 glasses of non-organic milk
- 1/2 teaspoon seaweed
This is to reach the (very low) levels set by the World Health Organisation, who have referred to the iodine levels in the UK as a ‘prominent’ health issue. In other Western European countries where the consumption of seafood and seaweed is low, they have resorted to adding iodine to salt to bring levels up. Of course this is not a problem in most countries in Asia where seaweed is a common ingredient in everyday cooking! In Japan for example most people eat between 10 and 100 times the daily recommended amount in the UK and the Okinawans in Japan, the longest living people in the World ascribe their extended, healthy lives in part to the seaweed in their diets.
Reason 3: On top of all of this, the really magic substance in seaweeds is the alginates. Alginates make you feel full when you eat by helping you digest food slower. So while seaweed is low calorie it has a high ‘satiety’ levels. Alginates also inhibit the absorption of fat from your food by up to 75% so can help with weight management.
Reason 4: Seaweeds are totally delicious. Stay with me here but MSG, the flavour enhancer? Originally, before they started making it from chemicals, it was made from seaweed. Seaweeds make your food taste better. They add a rich savoury flavour which is known as ‘umami’ – the fifth taste that your tongue can taste alongside sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Umami was identified in 1908 by a Japanese scientist working with seaweeds, and can also be identified in parmesan cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes. So adding a bit of Wakame seaweed to a salad, or a handful of Dulse crisped up on your morning eggs, or a bunch of Sea Spaghetti mixed into a noodle dish makes the whole thing more yummy (and you look like an amazing cook – win win).
Reason 5: Seaweeds are local?! Most people think seaweeds come from Asia – and a lot of them do, but we have ample quantities around our North Atlantic coastlines. The English have been slow on the uptake in terms of harvesting and drying their seaweed in large quantities but the Scottish, Irish, Welsh and French with their long clean Atlantic coastlines have been doing it for ages. Seaweeds for eating need to be harvested from very clean water so always chose a brand you trust.
Reason 6: Saving the planet. Eating wild, organic seaweed actually has a positive impact on the planet, firstly because your food required no precious land, soil or fresh water to grow, and was subjected to no pesticides or fertilisers along the way. Secondly because seaweeds grow incredibly quickly so are able to renew themselves easily. Some seaweeds grow up to 60cm per day! They are also fantastic at absorbing carbon and releasing oxygen – the giant kelp forests deep in the ocean are referred to as the ‘lungs of the planet’.
So you’re convinced right?
 Source: a study by Glasgow University, published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2014 http://www.gla.ac.uk/news/archiveofnews/2014/july/headline_347906_en.html
 Source: a study by Newcastle University, widely published http://www.ncl.ac.uk/press.office/press.release/item/fat-busting-sea-weeds-identified
Love, Ruth Dronfield
Contributor, SERENE Social
Atlantic Kitchen is headed up by Ruth Dronfield, who moved into food entrepreneurship after a friend approached her with the idea when she was working as a private events manager in London. Inspired by a childhood rooted in whole and fresh foods she took to the idea like a duck to water, and has been swimming ever since!
Atlantic Kitchen range of fresh Bowls are an easy way to dive into the deliciousness of seaweeds, each has a different seaweed from our dried range and a kelp stock base for extra nutrients and flavour. The range is Beetroot & Chickpea with Wakame Seaweed, Spicy Fish of the Day with Dulse Seaweed and Super Greens with Sea Spaghetti Seaweed.
Experiment wildly and enjoy!