Iodine is an essential trace mineral, and a small amount of it is extremely crucial for good mental as well as physical health. Some of the important functions of iodine are synthesizing thyroid hormones and strengthening the immune system. Iodine is mostly located in the thyroid glands and a smaller amount of it can be traced to the rest of the body parts, including the salivary glands, and the blood and mammary glands.
Lack of iodine can cause several health problems, including hypothyroidism, goiter, slow physical growth, and mental retardation. It is the reason why a person should include a healthy amount of iodine in his daily diet.
Types of Iodine-rich Seaweed
Seaweed is macroscopic and multicellular marine algae. Types of algae, like red algae, green algae, and brown algae are also referred to as seaweed. However, kelp and its various types are the most iodine-rich seaweed types. Seaweed is an invariable part of the diet of people belonging to coastal regions like China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Korea, Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Peru, Belize, Chile, Scandinavia, etc.
Besides iodine, it also contains high levels of calcium and potassium, which is the reason why seaweed benefits us for the treatment of various health conditions like thyroid problems, osteoporosis, cancer, fat loss, reducing the risk of birth defects, relief from inflammatory diseases, detoxification, stabilizing the rate of metabolism, etc. Owing to these various health benefits, seaweed should be included in your diet.
Arame is the most mild-flavored algae amongst all the types of algae belonging to the kelp family. Along with being iodine-rich, Arame is rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin A, and other important minerals. Along with being rich in vitamins and minerals, Arame is also rich in antioxidants. It is an important part of Japanese food. Dried seaweed is available at many Japanese food stores and it is used in its reconstituted form for garnishing, in seaweed salad recipes, casseroles, appetizers, soups, pilafs, etc.
Kombu or Konbu is one of the most extensively cultivated seaweed in eastern coastal Asia. Kombu is a seaweed that also contains glutamic acid, which is a useful amino acid. There are various delicious seaweed recipes made using Kombu. One of the most popular is 'dashi', which is a soup stock made of Kombu. To make this soup stock, this seaweed is used in its dried form. Kombu can be consumed fresh as well. All in all, it is one of the best iodine-rich foods for vegetarian people.
Nori is a type of kelp high in iodine, and tops most iodine-rich foods lists. Along with iodine, it also contains vitamin A, vitamin B, protein, beta carotene, carbohydrates, and fibers. Sheets of Nori are commonly sold and used in Asian markets as onigiri and sushi wraps (both of which are popular Japanese foods). It is also used to add flavor to noodles and soups, and to garnish various salads.
Alaria belongs to the genus Phaeophyta, which is a brown algae comprising around 17 species. This is one of the rare edible types of algae, which is found in the coastal British Isles, Eastern Asia, and South America. Alaria is a seaweed which is an excellent source of protein. The best thing about this type of algae is that it is low in fat and rich in various vitamins and minerals, that make it as healthy as terrestrial vegetation. Alaria is one of the best foods high in iodine and it is a common food item in countries like Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, Faroe Islands, Denmark, and far east Asian seaweed consuming countries.
Wakame is also an edible seaweed with all the kelp benefits and a distinctly sweet flavor. It also contains calcium, niacin, thiamine, eicosapentaenoic acid, omega 3 fatty acids, etc. It is also low in calories, and hence, is often cited to be the best type of kelp in order to lose fat. Wakame seaweed is either consumed in its dried or salted form, and it is a popular side dish for tofu recipes and vegetable salads. It is also used for making various delicious Japanese soups like 'miso soup'.
Laver, which is also called lava, is a type of kelp which is often included in the iodine-rich foods list. It has high levels of mineral salt and iron. Laver is also a rich source of protein, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and vitamin C. It is used for making tasty laverbread, a traditional Welsh dish. Laverbread is traditionally served with cockles and fried bacon. Laver is also consumed in the form of salad, along with mutton, especially lamb.
Other iodine-rich seaweed types include Irish moss, gim, bladderwrack, spirulina, bongo kelp, and numerous other types of kelp. Along with numerous healthy recipes, seaweed extract is used for making various medicines, like kelp supplements and spirulina tablets.