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Sea Vegetables: More Information

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Sea Vegetables

Summer Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(2) page(s): 37

In the last issue, we again discussed vegetables of the sea. Previously, they were written about in Volume 8(3). After that, many kudos and a number of complaints followed.

History tells us seaweeds were wet and dried, then wet and dried again many times. This as a means of collecting their salt. These many evaporation times concentrate many minerals in them. In the past many were used for healing. Among the complaints we received was not advising that many sea vegetables sold have some arsenic in them. Readers suggested because of this, that we and folks only purchase certified organic ones.

The marine algae we commonly call 'seaweeds' or 'sea vegetables' do fall into three categories by their colors of blue-green, brown, and/or red. The ancient Chinese used the their ashes for healing; so did the Vikings, Aztecs, and other early peoples. Modern science confirms the efficacy of many of them as treatments for ailments including swellings, circulatory issues, feminine ailments, and seasickness. The Scripps Oceanographic Institute adds hay fever to this list, and tells us that many also have high amounts of vitamins A and D, even more than found in cod liver oil.

Chinese farmers do use may seaweeds you see here and others to fertilize their sweet potatoes, coffee, coconuts, and peanuts. They also use them to cook with for their flavors and for health reasons.

In the United States, there is growing interest in these sea vegetables instead of using toxic pesticides. Recently, concern is that some have trace amounts of arsenic as was found by readers doing their own research. We are passing that along and thank those that did share that information. We suggest all interested parties read many sources to make their own decisions as to their use.

Many said they do use seaweeds in facials and purchase ‘certified organic’ ones as that makes sense to them. Maine Coast Sea Vegetables is a company they recommended. There are other sources of certified organic sea vegetables that are minimally processed, soy free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and GMO-free. When tested for nutrients, many of these seaweeds have ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’ ratings for iodine, Vitamins A, B2, and Vitamin C, also for manganese, and copper, and they have ‘good’ ratings for several other nutrients.

Some readers wrote that sea vegetables may be a better source of bio-available iron than previously thought, and that they are a unique source not only of iodine, but also of vanadium, and many enzymes. They told us to tell readers that these vegetables may help the body’s sensitivity to insulin, some have documented anti-inflammatory benefits for osteoarthritis, are valuable for their cardiovascular benefits, and that many lower estrogen-related cancers including those of the breast.

Another frequent suggestion included using ground ones on the dinner table instead of salt to season one's food. Several said to advise that they need no cooking and do offer the broadest range of minerals, many have anticoagulant and anti-thrombotic benefits, and some can lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

We thank all readers who wrote wanting to educate us about many sea vegetables whose history in ancient Chinese culture is long and were used by China’s royalty. They also said we should tell our readers to keep them in tightly sealed containers so they can stay for months.

This is not our area of expertise, readers do need to do their own research. We are passing on what was shared, and we thank those who did share with us. We suggest all interested parties read many sources enabling them to be informed.

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