Here’s Why You Should Be Eating More Seaweed

And how to navigate these slimy superfoods.

Sure, we’ve all dabbled in seaweed. After all, your sushi rolls comes wrapped in it and you may even occasionally order the side of seaweed salad – but here’s why you may want to promote this key ingredient from novelty item to pantry staple.

“Seaweed is very nutrient dense,” our director of education, Sarah Greenfireld, tells me. “First, it’s incredibly rich in iodine which supports the health of your thyroid and metabolism.” She also notes that iodine is hard to find in other foods, but abundant in seaweed.

Seaweed is also a rich source of many other vitamins and minerals while being low in calories, making it a good nutrient dense option to add to recipes. Sarah recommends eating seaweed daily – or at least as often as possible.

Here are six types of seaweed to look for on the shelves of your grocery store, their many seaweed benefits and how to prepare them.

Nori

You’re probably most familiar with this type of seaweed. It’s the kind used to wrap sushi rolls and in recent years has taken being sold in small flavored sheets as a low calorie snack. (Personally, I prefer to buy the larger sheets – it’s cost effective and requires less plastic packaging. Win, win!)

Indeed, a large sheet of nori contains only 5 calories but can boast iodine, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and Vitamins A, C and B12.

Kombu

Consider this kelp a digestion miracle worker. Kombu contains the alpha-galactosidase enzyme which helps to break down heavy starches in beans. For that reason, you can actually cook your dried beans with a piece of kombu in the pot to make them easier to digest (aka less gassy.)

Then, kombu has the highest concentration of iodine among all seaweeds. Again, this is ideal for hormone health. Kombu comes in large pieces, so just cut off a piece with kitchen scissors as needed. In addition to cooking your beans with it, you can also add it when cooking soups and bone broths.

Hijiki

These fine small strands are rich in iron which plays a central role in helping transport oxygen throughout our bodies and contributes to overall energy levels. Hijiki also contains more calcium than milk, meaning it can help keep bones strong. Finally, it’s rich in magnesium which can promote rest and relaxation in the body. To prepare it, simply soak one part dried hijiki in three parts water for thirty minutes. (As a tip, it will grow to be three times the size.) Drain and rinse before adding to a salad or prepared grains for a nutritious boost.

Arame

Arame is known for it’s long fine strands – almost like angel hair pasta from the sea. It’s also mild and sweet in flavor. Arame is rich in Vitamin A which encourages cell growth and repair, as well as lignan, a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects. Soak arame in water before rinsing and adding to stir-fry or salads.

Dulse

This type of seaweed has a unique red color and was a staple in Icelandic diets dating back to 961 AD! Dulse is rich in Vitamin B12 which makes it ideal for vegans and vegetarians. You can buy dulse in larger pieces – or in small flakes as pictured above. Try sprinkling dry flakes over your salad for a little crunch, or adding to popcorn or nuts with furikake for a savory treat.

Wakame

If you’ve ever ordered a seaweed salad at a restaurant, you probably had wakame. A study in Japan found that a specific pigment in wakame called fucoxanthin can actually help the body burn stored fat. Because seaweed is also naturally low in carbs, this makes wakame an interesting pairing for anyone on a ketogenic diet.

To prepare your own seaweed salad at home, soak dried wakame in water for five minutes. Drain, rinse and mix with rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with sesame seeds for extra crunch. Yum!

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