Sea green is about to be more than just your go-to hue. Seaweed, kelp and other so-called sea greens have countless nutritional benefits that have boosted their popularity among the health-conscious. If you're interested in improving your diet in 2022, here's what you need to know about why and how to use this trending ingredient.
What Are Sea Greens Anyway?
As the name suggests, sea greens are simply vegetables that grow in the sea. You can use algae, seaweed and kelp in all sorts of recipes, from smoothies and salads to soups and sushi. If none of those sound appealing, you can also get your sea greens in supplement form. If you eat sushi, you're already familiar with one type of seaweed: Nori, which is often used to wrap the rice, raw fish and vegetables.
Why Are Sea Greens So Special?
You've been hearing so much about these veggies because of their unique nutritional profile. Although sea greens are smart choices because they're low in fat, calories and sodium, the benefits don't stop there.
These greens are rich in tyrosine and iodine, two ingredients that keep the thyroid functioning properly. Lack of these nutrients can affect your weight and lead to fatigue. You can also experience pregnancy complications, including affected bone and brain development.
Most people should get at least 150 mcg of iron each day, but pregnant and breastfeeding women should get a minimum of 290 mcg. Kelp and kombu varieties of seaweed contain many times that amount, while wakame and nori also contain a significant percentage of your daily iodine needs.
Some types of algae, such as chlorella and spirulina, can help detoxify the body. Research associates these foods with reduced heavy metals in the body, including lower lead and cadmium levels.
Many sea greens contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have a beneficial effect on heart health. Animal studies showed that these foods reduce cholesterol and keep blood flowing freely, which also lower your risk for cardiac events such as heart attack and stroke.
Sea greens are also an outstanding source of antioxidants. These compounds help remove cancer-causing free radicals from the body. Free radicals, which come from environmental exposure to toxins in our daily lives, can also contribute to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Seaweed is full of fiber, which facilitates good gut health. In fact, fruits and veggies, known as one of the best fiber sources, don't have as much of it as sea greens do. Research has shown that the gut microbiome, which contains both good and bad bacteria, must remain in balance for a healthy immune system.
Eating fiber-rich foods like seaweed can also make it easy to achieve and maintain a healthy weight. Fiber keeps you feeling full, which can reduce cravings and overall calorie intake. Some animal studies associate certain kinds of sea greens with a decrease in fat cells.
How Should I Eat Sea Greens?
You'll find dried sheets of seaweed such as nori in your local grocery or health food store. Look for organic varieties to avoid exposure to toxins and heavy metals.
Crumble the dried version of seaweed into your favorite salads or rehydrate to use as a wrap or chopped in savory soup. Look for noodles made from kelp and other forms of seaweed, which you can use in place of pasta in all your favorite dishes.
Incorporating sea greens into your diet can add a new dimension to nutrition. If you've been trying to diversify your food choices, add this superfood to your shopping list. For best results, strive for four to five servings of sea greens a week.