What are Sea Vegetables?

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  • Written By: L. Hepfer
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 01 October 2019
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Sea vegetables, also known as seaweed, grow in the ocean on solid surfaces and supply marine life with nutrients needed to survive. Sea vegetables can be eaten by humans and are filled with essential vitamins and minerals that the body needs. Certain sea vegetables are packed with vitamins that boost immunity and ward off different diseases. They are high in sodium alginate, a compound responsible for fighting cancer.

The Japanese often use different sea vegetables in their diet. Although little scientific research has been done, Asians have used healing methods involving seaweed to prevent tumors. Japan conducted its own research on extract from eight different types of seaweed and found they all had the ability to prevent tumors. Different examples of the more well-known sea vegetables available in most health food stores and Asian markets include alaria, dulse, hijiki, kelp and nori.

Kelp is often sold in wide, dried dark green strips and is similar to the Japanese kombu. It is mostly eaten in soups and stir-fries to replace salt. This sea vegetable is high in folate which helps regenerate red blood cells and breaks down protein in the body. Kelp contains high levels of magnesium. Magnesium is beneficial for people who are sensitive to sodium or have high blood pressure.


Nori, also known as laver, is sold in paper-thin green dried sheets. It is used to wrap around sushi, accentuate salads and pasta or float in soups. Nori is high in Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that attacks free radicals in the body. Vitamin A is another powerful antioxidant found in nori that builds immunity and prevents night blindness and helps improve vision. Vitamin A is known for preventing cancer as well.

Hijiki, sometimes spelled hiziki, is a stronger tasting seaweed and looks like black angel hair pasta when packaged. It can be soaked to lighten the strong taste or eaten as a side dish. Hijiki is loaded with calcium iron, fiber, potassium, Vitamin E and protein.

Dulse looks like deep red wrinkled leaves and can be eaten straight from the package. It is usually added to pasta dishes, soups and stews and can be found in ready-to-use flakes. Dulse is high in protein, iron, potassium, chlorophyll, enzymes, magnesium, iodine, dietary fiber, Vitamin A and some Vitamin Bs.

Alaria, also known as wakame, is often used in miso soup. This sea vegetable is sometimes very chewy but can be tenderized by cutting away the stiff midrib of the plant. Alaria is high in protein and Vitamin A. It is a rich source of iodine and minerals.

Most sea vegetables provide sufficient amounts of Vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 fights off fatigue and memory loss. While sea vegetables tend to supply a ton of nutrients, they also contain iodine and sodium which can be harmful if ingested in large amounts.

Small amounts of iodine helps the body process protein and carbohydrates. The thyroid needs iodine to regulate growth and development, but too much iodine can damage the way the thyroid works, and too much sodium can raise blood pressure. When eating sea vegetables, it is wise to remember that most valuable nutrients are found on the surface. Lightly rinsing them is most beneficial when preparing them for meals. Using them in soups will cause the broth to soak up the nutrients, but the nutrients can still be ingested when sipping the broth.


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Post 5

Could you please create a chart that lists each sea vegetable's protein by with all the same measurement? Like 40 grams from example. A lot of sites cite the benefits of sea vegetables and recommend them as a good replacement for meet protein, but fail to give a comparative chart to how each type stacks up in numbers.

Post 4

One of my favorite seaweed products is furikaki. Furikaki is a seasoning that you sprinkle on steamed rice, and it adds a ton of flavor without adding excess fat. It is made up of toasted sesame seeds, dried bits of sweet egg, dried pieces of shrimp, dried wasabi puffs and an assortment of other freeze-dried tasty bits. The texture resembles that of bacon bits, and it comes in numerous different flavor mixes. My mother is half-Japanese and she turned me onto this stuff when I was a kid, and I have been eating it ever since.

Post 3

@ Fiorite- Edible sea vegetables have many useful benefits. Besides the benefits you mentioned, they are loaded with fiber too. When my daughter was a baby, we made her gentle laxatives out of agar-agar. We mixed the dried seaweed flakes with hot cherry juice (the all-natural stuff, not the cocktail) to make a sort of seaweed gelatin. We poured the liquid into ice cube trays and let them set in the refrigerator. We would give her a couple pieces a day, and she would be her regular self in no time. The agar-agar has no taste and it is low in sodium, so it is totally safe for a baby. Adding the cherry juice made it tasty enough for the baby to nibble on, and it was able to be mushed up with just her gums, so it wasn't a choking hazard.

Post 2

Toasted nori is one of my favorite snacks. You can buy a pack of toasted, seasoned nori sheets for less than a buck, and it is jam packed with nutrients. It even has a little protein in it. I find that the little snack packs actually subdue hunger and increase energy. Each pack only has about 50 calories in it and no fat so it is a healthy choice for anyone on a diet. The only downside about these salty little crisps is they leave black spots on your teeth. Make sure to rinse your mouth with water afterward to save yourself the embarrassment of dirty teeth. I recommend these dried sea vegetable snacks.

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