You’ve heard it a million times: Eat your vegetables! Now it’s time to eat your sea vegetables. That’s right. . . sea vegetables.
Sea vegetables—which are not plants or animals, but algae—grow in marine salt waters and fresh water lakes and seas, usually on coral reefs or in rocky areas. There are thousands of types of sea vegetables, and they are classified into categories by color (brown, red or green), with each possessing a distinct shape, taste and texture. Kelp, nori, dulse, kombu, wakame and arame are common sea veggies.
You may be wondering why anyone would want to eat sea vegetables, but they offer a wide range of minerals like calcium, magnesium, iron, potassium, selenium, zinc, iodine and much more. You’ll also find that sea vegetables provide a variety of phytonutrients, an array of antioxidants as well as iodine, vitamin K, folate, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E.
Speaking of mineral content. . . sea vegetables contain the critical trace mineral vanadium, which helps to form enzymes that provide a natural antioxidant defense. Vanadium also supports healthy insulin signaling and blood sugar levels, while reducing unhealthy glucose formation. Likewise, vanadium supports carbohydrate metabolism and the body’s ability to store sugar in the form of muscle and liver glycogen.
Additionally, sea vegetables offer cardiovascular benefits. Interestingly, extracts from sea veggies are often called “heparin-like extracts” due to their healthy blood-clotting properties found in their sulfated polysaccharide content. That’s not all they provide in the way of cardiovascular support, though. Sea vegetables also have been shown to support healthy cholesterol levels.
Then there’s the group of polysaccharides in sea vegetables called fucoidans, which are being studied for their role in supporting healthy levels of inflammation in the body. Fucoidans support healthy inflammation by blocking selectin production and certain prostaglandins and enzymes like phospholipase A2, that can lead to inflammation imbalance. Selectins, by the way, signal inflammatory processes in the body, while the enzyme phospholipase A2 turns on the inflammatory process.
Amazingly, the fucoidans in sea veggies have been shown to reduce pain, to fight off viruses and to keep arteries from clogging. Green sea vegetables like kelp and others are also rich in chlorophyll to boost blood cell formation and to help purify the body.
So go ahead and eat your veggies, but also make sure you include some sea veggies. They offer a treasure trove of nutritional benefits.