Dried seaweeds contain high amounts of nutrient, thereby making it one of the most sought-after seafoods. Here we give you some of their nutrition facts and health benefits.
For the last several centuries, dried seaweeds have been an important part of the diet of people in several countries. Numerous types are used extensively in the preparation of seasoning, and soup stock. The most common types include kombu, wakame, and nori. Its production method is highly complex, and is quite an advanced form of agriculture.
They are grown under the sea attached to nets, and are suspended under the surface. The plant does not take much time to grow, and needs just about 45 days to attain maturity.
As they grow under the sea, they contain extraordinary amounts of minerals, which are found in the sea. In some species the mineral content is so high that it is 36% of its dry mass.
Some of the most common minerals include cobalt, nickel, boron, manganese, fluoride, molybdenum, selenium, copper, zinc, iron, iodine, phosphorous, sulfur, chlorine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium.
Dried seaweeds have such high quantities of iodine as compared to the minimum required in our diets that it's primarily known for this particular nutrient. Brown algae contains the highest amount of iodine and its amount ranges from 1500 - 8000 parts per million in a dried kelp.
It's only in green and red algae that the iodine content is slightly lower, but it's still higher compared to any other land plant. If you consume very small quantities of dried seaweed every day, your daily requirement of 150 µg/day would suffice.
In some places people eat more than a gram of dry seaweed every day. Research shows that, our body can adapt easily even if the iodine intake is high. Iodine is vital for the production of thyroid hormone which helps in the proper growth and development of the body. If the amounts of iodine in the body is less than required, the body would show slow growth.
As the land plants produce very low levels of iodine it's recommended to have seaweeds in the dry form to increase the iodine content in the body. However, make sure that you don't consume it in large quantities at a time, or else it may be harmful. Many a time, iodine is mixed with table salt so as to ensure that enough levels are maintained.
Apart from iodine, it is also rich in calcium, but compared to the iodine content, the calcium content is not that high. Usually the calcium content is about 4 to 7% of dry mass. At around 7%, a gram gives at least 70 mg of calcium. This is still higher compared to other food items rich in calcium, but of course lower than milk-based food items.
Dried seaweeds also contain high amounts of protein, but it varies as per the species. In some species, it is only 5 to 11% of dried mass while in others 30 to 40%. Vitamins constitute another essential part of seaweeds. They are a rich source of carotenes, and many a time, is used as a dietary supplement.
Vitamin A content ranges from about 20 to 170 parts per million. Moreover, it is also rich in vitamin C, and its content ranges from 500 to 3000 parts per million. Some of the other vitamins include vitamin B12, a vitamin which is found in very less amounts in land plants.
There are several seaweed health benefits, the major one being, helping in the proper growth of the body. They are low in cholesterol, besides being an excellent source of vitamin B5. This vitamin is helpful for cutting down the amounts of cholesterol in the body. Moreover, it also helps in reducing acne and rheumatoid arthritis.
Minerals like magnesium and iron, found in high amounts in dried seaweeds, are helpful in preventing heart attacks and diabetes. They contain niacin and riboflavin which help in repairing the tissue quite fast. The only downside is that the calorie content is slightly higher, but not as high as several other foods.
With the kind of health benefits dried seaweeds provide, it's no surprise that they have become a popular source of food among a majority of people. While consuming them, make sure that you don't consume it in huge quantities at a time.