Is it possible that something that makes food taste so great can also be good for you? The short answer is yes – seaweed has a number of health benefits, well documented and researched. Here are just a few:
It is good for digestion
Seaweed is high in fibre, and a steady seaweed intake increases the good bacteria in the gut. This has the added benefit of inhibiting the absorption of sugars and cholesterol. As reported by the Guardian (which lists 7 good reasons to eat seaweed), “scientists … have researched alginate, a substance in seaweed, and found that it can strengthen gut mucus (which protects the gut wall), slow down digestion (so you feel fuller for longer) and make food release its energy more slowly.”
It is high in nutrients
Seaweed contains a number of essential things. Canada’s Best Health magazine finds that “seaweed packs super-high amounts of calcium, higher than broccoli, and in terms of protein, it’s almost as rich as legumes. There’s also a good amount of vitamins B-12 and A”. Nutrition data note that wakame in particular is a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid and Phosphorus, and a very good source of Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper and Manganese.
It will help you lose weight healthily
For the diet conscious there is more good news. Seaweed will not make you fat – far from it. Its nutrient packed goodness comes with a low calorie intake. Nutrition data give it five stars for weight loss, confirming that it is “low in saturated fat, and very low in cholesterol”. Little wonder then that the new slim Jamie Oliver attributed his recent weight loss to seaweed, also calling it ‘the most nutritious vegetable in the world‘.
Seaweed is No. 1 for Iodine
One of seaweed’s greatest benefits is that it is an exceptional source of iodine. Iodine is essential to having a healthy thyroid, a gland which regulates hormones. If you are suffering from high cholesterol, weakness, depression or fatigue, it may be that your thyroid is unhealthy.
According to the global healing centre the natural answer is more iodine in your diet, and the top source is sea vegetables. “The ocean hosts the largest storehouse of iodine foods, including Kelp, Arame, Hiziki, Kombu, and Wakame. Kelp has the highest amount of iodine of any food on the planet and just one serving offers 4 times the daily minimum requirement.”
Umami is all about taste. We are used to the four flavours in our food: sweet, sour, salty and bitter. Well ‘Umami’ (pronounced “oo-mommy”) is the fifth taste. While the term is new to us, the Japanese have used it since the early 1900s. Umami (うま味?) is a naturally occurring flavour enhancer and can be translated as “pleasant savory taste”. It has a savoury, meaty kind of taste itself but it also magically enhances the flavour of other foods.
Scientifically, what exactly is the umami taste?
Umami can be experienced naturally in foods such as mushrooms, anchovies, and mature cheeses, as well as in foods enhanced with monosodium glutamate. The molecular formula of the crystals is C5H9NO4, the same as glutamic acid, an amino acid. Glutamate is one of the most abundant excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, playing a crucial role in memory and learning.
What is it’s connection with seaweed?
As the Smithsonian Institute explains, in 1908, over a bowl of seaweed soup, Japanese scientist Kikunae Ikeda asked a question that would change the food industry forever: what gave dashi, a ubiquitous Japanese soup base, its meaty flavor? Dashi, a fermented base made from boiled seaweed and dried fish, was widely used by chefs to add extra oomph to meals–pairing well with other savory, but meatless foods like vegetables and soy. Ikeda was able to isolate the main substance of dashi–the seaweed Laminaria japonica.
Ikeda then took the seaweed and ran it through a series of chemical processes to produce crystals. When he tasted the crystals, he recognized the distinct savory taste that dashi lent to other foods. He called that taste umami, from the Japanese umai (delicious.) The fifth taste was born!
Tasty and healthy
This taste is not as simple as making something taste more salty (salt alone can do that). Rather, the umami taste is one of richness, fullness and complexity. Simply put, it just makes the food taste more delicious. Many studies have linked umami to good health, and when made from seaweed it also benefits from seaweed’s rich iodine content. Iodine contributes to a healthy brain, nervous system, skin, thyroid, metabolism and is great for growing children. Using umami also increases an appetite for healthy foods while reducing our dependence on harmful levels of salt.
How can I get that umami taste?
The Laughing Oyster Seafood Seasoning can literally be sprinkled onto and into most sweet or savoury food to bring out the wonderful umami depth to your dishes. In three delicious flavours it is your healthy, flavour enhancing friend at the table.