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Seaweed: Not Just for Fish and Mermaids

benefits of seaweed

Seaweed– have you spotted it popping up in your local grocery store yet? I don’t know about your neighborhood, but it’s been slowly crawling into mine and I couldn’t be more excited.

A few summers ago, I worked in Malaysia and during my first week in the office, a co-worker offered me a piece of (dried) seaweed. In the spirit of trying new things (I was in Malaysia after all), I reached into the bag and grabbed a piece for myself. I crunched the thing into my mouth, quickly swallowed and instantly passed up on her offer of more, thinking, “Ok, at least I tried it.” But then time went by and more co-workers kept offering me seaweed (because it was everyone’s favorite snack of course) and, somehow, I kept agreeing to try it. Then, suddenly, after that third or fourth time, I started to actually like it. And then I started to buy it for myself, at least a few times a week.

I even filled up a significant amount of my suitcase with it on my way back to the states.

Once home though, I soon discovered that I could find seaweed of the exact same brand at a nearby Asian market. But then this past year I saw it at Trader Joe’s, and my dad even spotted it at Costco. What? Dried seaweed in American grocery stores? Turns out, it’s not just completely delicious (trust me!!), it’s actually pretty good for you too, and the rest of the world is slowly catching on to this fact.

If you’re not yet sold on the idea of eating a plant that grows underwater, maybe you will be after finding out the benefits of seaweed:

1) Seaweed contains calcium (in higher amounts than in broccoli!), magnesium, and potassium.

2) Certain types of seaweed are high in iron and vitamin B12 (which can be hard for vegetarians and vegans to get enough of in their regular diets).

3) Seaweed is a great source of fiber.  Even better, it’s mostly soluble fiber meaning that, when digested, this fiber turns to a gel and slows the digestive process (which inhibits the absorption of sugar and cholesterol).

You can buy it fresh (usually only in Asian markets) and make it into salads, soups, or stir-frys, or buy it dry for an excellent snack.

Photo Credit: Marissa Gawel

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