The Cleveland Clinic refers to superfoods as “natural foods that are especially nutrient-dense while generally being low in calories.
Edible seaweed has been recognized as a superfood in Asian countries such as China, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, and Malaysia for centuries. The nutritional advantage of seaweed as a food and supplement is finally being recognized by scientists in other parts of the world. For example, the mainstream scientific publication known as frontiers in Marine Science has recognized seaweeds as foods that..
“Can decrease the risk of many diseases, as they contain various bioactive compounds.”
Seaweeds are chlorophyll-containing plants, also known as macroalgae, that grow in marine systems. The chlorophyll gives seaweeds their color, as green algae contain chlorophyll a and b, and brown algae receive their color from other pigments.
Most Americans will consume seaweeds in dietary supplements for the convenience and lack of familiarity of cooking with these plants. And the use of seaweed products as foods or supplements is very environmentally friendly. They do not require freshwater or fertilizer, and they absorb carbon dioxide and reduce the carbon footprint.
Many bioactive compounds promote human health from various seaweeds. Seaweed products foods are densely packed with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and healthy fats. As a superfood, seaweeds are relatively low in calories and simple carbohydrates, an essential requirement for a population where overweight and diabetes are commonplace.
Minerals (Calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron)
Vitamins (A, D, E, C, B)
Super Foods are the solution for Americans and people worldwide suffering from illness and poor vitality. Research has shown that certain superfoods are densely packed with phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals, fiber, and healthy fats. In addition, superfoods are relatively low in calories and simple carbohydrates, an essential requirement for a population where overweight and diabetes are commonplace.
Support Your Genes with Seaweed
New research has shown that superfoods work at the deepest level by providing information to the genes which comprise human DNA. The exciting field of nutritional epigenetics has revealed that the expression of human genes can be regulated to prevent and fight disease through the information passed from superfoods. Most Americans are receiving the wrong information from processed foods and toxins that relay dysfunctional information to our genes. As a result of this faulty messaging from the wrong choice of foods, there is a breakdown in cellular and organ functioning. Just like one can improve the functioning of a computer system by enhancing the coding software program, one can improve the functioning of the human body with upgraded information from superfoods! Researchers have reported that the nutrients and phytonutrients in seaweeds “have been linked to improving human health by altering the genetic expression of cellular events.”
Seaweeds contain unique polysaccharides (sugar molecules bonded together) that act as antioxidants and support the immune system. For example, brown seaweeds contain the polysaccharide known as laminarin, which is found in brown seaweeds. Laminarin has antibacterial and antiviral activity and acts as a prebiotic (feeding your healthy gut bacteria).
The American diet does not supply adequate minerals for proper human health. Seaweeds contain high concentrations and many minerals, including potassium, calcium iodine, magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and others. Some seaweed products are excellent sources of iodine, which is required to synthesize thyroid hormones in the human body. In addition, seaweeds contain calcium phosphate, a type of calcium much more bioavailable than the poorly absorbed calcium carbonate in cow’s milk and some supplements.
Seaweeds have three unique classes of pigments that promote human health in powerful ways:
Chlorophylls: cancer prevention
Phycobiliproteins: antioxidant, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, nerve protective
Carotenoids: antioxidant, reduce cardiovascular diseases, anticancer, skin protective
Fantastic Fatty Acids
Your body requires essential fatty acids for several body functions, including the composition of your cells. Seaweed products contain polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6. Many of my patients require omega fatty acids supplementation, and seaweed-derived supplements are one plant way to deliver these essential nutrients.
The international journal Food Science and Human Wellness documents the known health benefits of seaweed supplements. The authors note several studies demonstrate that seaweed supplementation alongside a regular diet has health benefits. Some of the documentation in this journal includes:
Minimized risk of breast cancer in women
Improves digestive health
Reduce blood glucose levels and decrease the risk of diabetes
Fights obesity (mice studies)
There are many different types of seaweed foods and extracts. It is best to use a blend of them in supplements as seaweeds contain various nutrients and phytonutrients used by the many systems of the body. Some of the most well studied that people should consider as part of their diet or supplementation include:
If you want to supply your body with natural sources of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, then edible seaweed products and supplements. While most Americans will not consume edible seaweed products regularly, they will take quality supplements. If you have a disease state, consult with a nutrition-trained doctor for specific advice on using supplements.
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Dr. Mark Stengler NMD is a bestselling author in private practice in Encinitas, California, at the
Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine. His weekly newsletter Dr. Stengler’s Health
Breakthroughs, is available at www.americasnaturaldoctor.com