Monday, September 26, 2016

 Blog #55 Seaweed – Herbal Protein and Mineral Powerhouse

These sea herbs can be so nutritious that some people have lived on them for years as one of their main foods, along with moderate amounts of land-based fruit, root vegetables and leafy greens.  Certain seaweed - algae, chlorella, and spirulina in particular - are considered by some authorities to be crosses between plants and animals, and actually contain a small amount of vitamin B12, but probably not enough to keep you healthy if you are vegan, unless you eat massive quantities if these herbs.  Under the heading of seaweed are included over 20 sea organisms, some of which are chlorella, algae, spirulina, sea lettuce, kelp, dulse, kombu, wakame and nori.  Seaweed is high in protein, iodine, sodium, potassium and also contains some calcium, plus many other trace minerals. 

Research has shown that certain seaweeds can help with detoxification from toxic heavy minerals, especially cadmium and lead, can help protect against radiation poisoning, especially radioactive strontium, can help keep the thyroid gland healthy, can help lower LDL cholesterol, and even may possibly help prevent certain types of cancer, particularly breast cancer.  However, the source of the seaweed determines its quality and safety.  If taken from contaminated or radioactive waters, these herbs will do more harm than good.  Additionally, if taken in too large quantities, they can cause problems by either over-stimulating and disrupting the thyroid function with too much iodine or causing heart palpitations with too much potassium.  Since seaweeds are also high in sodium, if taken in too large quantities, they can result in hypertension and possible kidney damage. 

The “weed” in seaweed is probably a misnomer, since most sea vegetables do not over-run an aquatic area at the expense of other organisms, but instead are fairly localized, while also contributing to the integrity of the local habitat.  A major exception to this are algae, which, due to climate change, including the warming of many bodies of water, are proliferating in “blooms” at the expense of other habitat residents.

Most of us will benefit from small amounts of seaweed on a daily or almost daily basis.  It is vital that these herbs are sourced from uncontaminated waters and are processed appropriately.  Many bodies of water from which seaweed is obtained are contaminated with bacteria or other organic materials, chemicals, heavy metals and/or radiation.  Be sure that the seaweed is either certified organic or is sold through a reliable distributor.  Iceland is one area that still has high quality seaweed.  Frontier Herbs is usually a reliable source for seaweed, and the Synergy Company sells a high quality supplement, which contains a large quantity of these herbs. 

Seaweed can be sprinkled on salads, added to soups and stews, and used as seasoning in place of salt.

This blog’s offer:  contact me with questions about specific seaweed and sources.  I also have a limited quantity of high quality seaweed, which I am willing to sell, since I purchased enough to last me at least ten years (seaweed has a very long shelf life).