Seaweed, why eat them ?

Bite-size Wakame salads, photo by Three Little Wishes for Pacific Harvest

It seems that seaweed has always been used by humans, with centuries-old recipes still used today. Past use is attributed to the people of South Africa, China, Japan, Hawaii, Burma, Philippines, Chile, Peru, the North American Indians, Aztecs, Eskimos, Germans, French, Scottish, Welsh, Irish, British, Channel Islands and New Zealand Maori people. The Maori people used seaweed extensively in soups, steamed, roasted, raw and often mixed into a jelly with tutu juice to be eaten or used medicinally. The wide blades of Rimurapa were split to form a pouch for packing and preserving mutton birds, or to cook fish in. In China each family member was given a slice of seaweed jelly daily as a tonic, while seaweed harvesting in Jersey was a time of singing, dancing, feasting and storytelling. Commercialisation started with alginates in the 1800′s, primarily in Britain.

Chinese physicians used sea vegetables as far back as 3000 BC to treat human maladies. The Babylonians used extracts and whole plants for cosmetics and skin care preparations. The ancient Egyptians treated what we now call goitre with sea vegetables. East Coast American Indians dipped sea vegetables in clam juice, sun-dried them and used them effectively against influenza, a custom still followed on the coast of Maine.

Although many people resist trying seaweed, seaweed connoisseurs are often made, not born. Many of us have acquired the taste already because of the popularity of Japanese sushi. The reality is that sea vegetables can be an unsurpassed complement to most meals for both taste and nutritional value, even in Western cuisine. The secret lies in knowing what other foods complement the taste of a particular sea vegetable. Different varieties of sea vegetables, like land vegetables, have widely different tastes and characteristics. Click the link to learn about sea vegetables/edible seaweed.

Because they are hydroscopic, sea vegetables can be used as nutritious and flavoursome binder in fritters, pancakes, soups and gravies. Kelp also acts as a natural tenderizer and flavour enhancer for meats and in marinades.

Fresh tomato with Lime kelp & avocado oil, photo by Three Little Wishes for Pacific Harvest

On the health side, it is good to know that sea water and the fluids in a healthy human body contain many of the same minerals in very similar concentrations. As a result, sea vegetables have been treasured throughout centuries for their ability to restore, nourish and strengthen the body. One does not have to eat great quantities of sea vegetables in order to enjoy their benefits. Used dried as a seasoning, many varieties of sea vegetables add a delicate hint of the sea. When used in cooking, they add a slight salty taste and a lot of texture to the dish. Roasted, they often boast a delicious nutty taste.

Sea vegetables are rich in vitamins, and contain all fifty-six minerals and trace elements identified as health requirements, as well as other nutrients, many of which are known to offer protection against radiation or chemical pollutants. For this reason they are known as a great promoter of glandular health. Minerals in sea vegetables are assimilated more easily than minerals in supplements because they are made available in an organic chelated form that the body can readily absorb.

Seaweed has an alkalising and normalizing effect, making it ideal for an often over acidic Western diet. They have a diuretic action in our body – in other words, they help release excess body fluids and dissolves fatty wastes through the skin.

There is no family of foods more protective against radiation and environmental pollutants than sea vegetables. All sea vegetables contain radio-protective properties. One of the more powerful protective elements in sea vegetables is sodium alginate. The alginic acid found in sea vegetation acts as a binding or chelating agent in the body and protects against the radioactive strontium 90, which is now found in our vegetables, milk and meat. Not only does alginic acid flush strontium 90 through the digestive tract, but it also extracts and chelates it from the bone marrow and bloodstream. Researchers at McGill University (Canada) are finding that these benefits extend to all heavy metals.

Another benefit of eating sea vegetables is that they help dissolve fat and mucus deposits. The body frequently stores environmental contaminants in fat or adipose tissue as these tissues are not essential to life. By helping to dissolve fat deposits and by pulling some contaminants out of the body, sea vegetables can help detoxify the body and negate the harmful effects of different types of radiation and industrial pollutants.

Sea vegetables not only offer us an opportunity to experience an improvement in general health, but even those in the best of health can benefit from daily consumption of these versatile, savoury gifts from the sea.

They are loaded with calcium, iron, vitamin A, niacin, vitamin C, protein, iodine and other minerals. Sea vegetables also help to strengthen the intestines, liver, pancreas, sexual organs and blood streams. Kelp may also lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

Much research has been done, notably in England, USA and Japan on blends of sea vegetables, and the effects of the enzymes or cell stimulants have been noted. Humans and animals show increased hair growth and healthier condition, as well as increased resistance to infection and faster healing from injury. Orally ingested sea vegetables also reduce bone-knitting time.

Despite their use in the traditionally Asian culinary context, there is no reason that sea vegetables cannot be added to Western dishes with equal success. Here at Pacific Harvest, it is our goal to integrate seaweed into the Western diet, making it a regularly-used addition to any dish. Why not try something a little different today?

Follow this link to review our range of natural seaweed products.

Karengo & Tamarillo Chutney, yum !


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