How do seaweed hot dog buns and pizza dough sound to you? Not so great? Well, try to hold off on making any rash judgments just yet.
According to a November 2015 article written by professors from the University of Southern Denmark, adding about 5 percent of seaweed to common processed foods (which may also include pasta, bread, snack bars, and meat) might be the solution to reducing various heart issues and battling the obesity epidemic.
"We know that many people have difficulty distinguishing between healthy and unhealthy food," the professors wrote in a press release. "By adding seaweed to processed foods we can make food healthier. In many cases we also get tastier food, and it may also help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases."
Move Over, Kale – You've Got Competition
"The amazing thing about seaweed is it contains all the nutrients required by human beings," says Lori Shemek, PhD, researcher, nutrition and weight-loss expert, and author of How to Fight FATflammation: A Revolutionary 3-Week Program to Shrink the Body's Fat Cells for Quick and Lasing Weight Loss.
"For starters, it has minerals, like calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and zinc, as well as vitamin A, B1, B2, B6, niacin, vitamin C pantothenic acid, and inflammation reducing folic acid," she says. "There are even trace amounts of vitamin B12 that you just can't get from any land-based plants. In fact, it's actually 60 times more potent than any land-based vegetable, making it one of the most powerful nutritional sources available."
Dr. Shemek adds that this nutrient-dense member of the algae family is also rich in iodine (which helps nourish the thyroid gland, stabilize heart rhythm, balance blood sugar levels and lowers serum cholesterol), a great source of omega-3 fatty acids (which reduce all-over inflammation and are great for skin), and high in fiber (which helps control appetite by slowing down the digestive process, making you feel fuller longer).
Super Simple Ways to Add Seaweed to Your Diet
While edible seaweed comes in three varieties — brown, red, and green —Shemek recommends sticking to the brown versions (such as kelp and wakame), followed by the reds (which includes nori, commonly used by sushi chefs). Dried seaweed is particularly useful, because you can store it for months or even years, and can grind it into a powder that can be added to many different types of food.
Not sure what to do with it? Give these ideas a try:
- Chop it up and toss it into a smoothie, stew, casserole, dip (perhaps made from hummus or guacamole), or even mayo "for a new twist on this classic sandwich condiment."
- Mix it with a salad or pasta.
- Sauté it with more common green veggies, like kale or spinach. This is especially smart if you're trying to get the whole family to try seaweed: "No one will even know it's there!"
- Substitute kelp noodles for pasta or rice noodles, which "have virtually no carbs and serve as a great flour noodle replacement for those on a low-carb diet."
So, whaddya say? Ready to welcome a nutritious new green into your kitchen?