Superfood 101: Seaweed

Let's talk sea vegetables. There are many out there who are skeptical when it comes to eating weeds -- let alone weeds out of the ocean. And yet, any sushi lover plops the stuff in their mouth like popcorn, no questions asked. Seaweed may not look appealing to most in its natural form, but the benefits highly outweigh any reservations one may have about consumption.

Seaweed is rich in nutrients. While there are many different varieties, seaweed is classified by color: red, green, and brown. While each has varying health benefits, as a whole they pack a punch. Vitamins A, C, and K, as well as protein and fiber, are a few to mention. The most important nutrient seaweed contains that may be lacking in the average diet is iodine. Iodine is extremely important in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Fatigue, lack in mental function, goiters, weight gain -- these are all risks of low iodine levels. Iodine is popularly known as an additive to the average table salt. This may put those that are watching their sodium intake by decreasing salt use at risk for iodine deficiency. Seaweed offers a healthy alternative.

Seaweed is full of fiber, and fiber is filling. The mixture of fiber and a low calorie food is yet another reason to snack on seaweed. It promotes weight loss and is loaded in Omega-3 fatty acid. Thus, seaweed provides an alternative source of Omega-3s without resorting to fish that may be unsustainable. Instead, the ocean produces Omega-3 fatty acid food in the form of a sea vegetable.

Beyond the health benefits, seaweed farming is sustainable. Aquaculture in this form is more beneficial than sustainable agriculture. Lacking in pesticides and fertilization, it requires no fresh water to grow. This is a bonus in a drought-ridden age. Additionally, the growing of seaweed fights water pollution and overfishing. And by reaching 12 feet in as little as three months, seaweed provides plenty of food to eat.

Seaweed has been a staple of Asian cuisine for centuries, and the popularity is growing in western society. The spread of seaweed farms will help in fighting pollution, sustaining our food source, and feeding the expanding global population.

Recommendation: Try making some seaweed chips. A little olive oil, salt, pepper, and paprika with a few minutes in the oven may have you hooked and going back for more.