You know…the Seaweed that wraps Sushi
Getty (this resembles an ART piece)
although it is also used as a garnish, for flavoring noodle dishes and soups, or as a health supplement. Indeed, as the nutritional value of nori continues to come to light, more and more health food stores worldwide are beginning to sell it in fresh or dried form.
Photo: LiveStrong Website
List of Health Benefits
And the benefits abound: Seaweed (specifically nori, the kind usually used for seaweed snacks) is a cocktail of nutrients, including high levels of vitamins A and C, and calcium. Vegans can rejoice in the fact that it’s one of the only natural, non-animal sources of vitamin B-12, which is essential for many cognitive and bodily functions. In addition, sea vegetables tout particularly high amounts of iodine, potassium, selenium, iron, and magnesium—unrivaled by land vegetables, as these minerals are especially concentrated in seawater.
Rich in protein – 100 grams of nori contain between 30 and 50 grams of protein, making it one of the plant world’s richest sources of protein and comparable in density to spirulina, chlorella, and soybeans. Protein is needed for building and repairing muscles, building enzymes and antibodies, and cell maintenance and growth.
Lowers cholesterol – According to a study published in the June 2001 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition, when rats that were on an otherwise high-cholesterol diet were fed nori, their LDL cholesterol levels lowered, suggesting that nori plays an important role in stabilizing cholesterol levels. Perhaps this is because nori is surprisingly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are well-known for reducing LDL cholesterol. They also help lower blood pressure, therefore making nori excellent for the cardiovascular system.
Dietary fiber – Nori is comprised of approximately 33 percent dietary fiber, making it an effective laxative. Also, since high-fiber foods have the ability to make you feel full for longer, nori is also a good weight loss food (a fact that is reinforced by its low calorie and fat content).
Lowers cancer risk – A study published in the May 2010 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found that the regular consumption of nori was linked to lowered rates of breast cancer for menopausal and pre-menopausal women. This is unsurprising, since nori is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C that help neutralize the cancer-causing effects of free radicals.
High in iron – 100 grams of nori contain approximately 88 percent of our recommended daily intake of iron, making it an extremely rich source of this much-needed mineral. Furthermore, a Venezuelan study published in 2007 for the Journal of Nutrition showed that nori, unlike many grains and beans, doesn’t contain phytates, which can drastically lower the absorption rate of iron.
Improves bone health – 100 grams of nori contain 280 milligrams of calcium (28 percent of our RDI) and 300 milligrams of magnesium (85 percent of our RDI). While we all know that calcium is good for the bones and is needed to prevent osteoporosis, lesser-known is that fact that we also need magnesium to help absorb it. Since nori contains sizable quantities of both, it is the perfect bone-builder.
Impressive iodine content – Sea vegetables are the plant world’s premier source of iodine, and nori doesn’t disappoint. 100 grams of it contain approximately six milligrams of this extremely important mineral. Indeed, according to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), one sushi roll wrapped in nori contains 92 micrograms of iodine, which is close to an adult’s RDI of 150 micrograms. Iodine deficiencies are very common in the West and can lead to serious conditions such as goiter and hyperthyroidism.
Aside from the nutrients already mentioned, 100 grams of nori also provide us with vitamin A (288 percent of our RDI), thiamine (60 percent), riboflavin (194 percent), niacin (78 percent), folate (475 percent), as well as impressive levels of phosphorous, potassium, zinc, and vitamins C, E, and K.
Source: Michael Ravensthorpe. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world’s healthiest foods.
I use nori as a topper in a homemade miso soup base. I start with a soybean paste that is GMO free (getting non-GMO is harder to find these days but if you look hard you’ll find it). Sometimes added chicken stock and then add vegetables (baby bok choy, spinach, broccoli, a little soy, rice noodles, shichimi spice and toasted seaweed. It is fairly quick, nutritious and delicious. It sure beats the miso soups you get at any Japanese restaurant.
If you want to know the difference between Kelp and Seaweed:
Seaweed is a very, very broad term that is used to describe the many marine plants and algae that live in the world’s waters. Kelp is actually a subgroup of seaweed and is also the largest form of seaweed. Seaweeds range in size from the microscopic to the massive, while kelp are so large and complex that they form massive underwater forests. You may have seen this marine plant at the beach. Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that grows in shallow, nutrient-rich saltwater, near coastal fronts around the world. It differs slightly in color, flavor, and nutrient profile from the type you may see in sushi rolls. It contains:
- vitamins A, B-12, B-6, and C
What about too much Iodine?
The key is to get a moderate amount to raise energy levels and brain functioning. It is difficult to get too much iodine in natural kelp but this could be an issue with supplements.
Do you eat Nori or Kelp?