Make seaweed part of a healthy diet

Seaweed is swimming its way into the mainstream market.

Waitrose has just announced that it will stock fresh seaweed in its stores, while sales of the green stuff soared by 125 per cent after Jamie Oliver claimed it had helped him lose weight.

“Seaweed is one of this year’s biggest trends in veg which we’re seeing on the menus of some of London’s top and most creative restaurants,” says Waitrose product developer, Simona Cohen Vida. “Our customers like to experiment in the kitchen, so we predict that seaweed will be top of the shopping list this spring.”

A staple in our diet in ancient times, seaweed has become popular not just because of its delicious flavour, but because of its many health benefits.

Companies such as the The Cornish Seaweed Company and This Is Seaweed in Ireland are harvesting a variety of seaweeds and related products, including dulse, kelp, carrageen, wakame, sea spaghetti, seaweed salt, and so on.

Not sure what to do with it? How about sea spaghetti pasta with basil pesto? Or dulse and quinoa salad?

You can also cut down on your salt intake by using seaweed salt, a mixture small-flaked dulse, nori and sea greens mixed with Maldon Sea Salt. Pinch and sprinkle on any dish.

A study conducted in 2010 by Scientists at Newcastle University found the superfood can reduce our rate of fat absorption by 75 percent. It is a staple in Japanese cooking, where the obesity rate is about 10 times less than that in America.

Seaweed salad with miso dressing
Seaweed salad with miso dressing

Seaweed is also super-rich in iodine, a nutrient not found in many other foods, while some varieties are also high in protein and vitamins A-C.

Five reasons to love seaweed

*You can forage for it – sustainably

*You can find edible seaweed such as the popular ‘sea lettuce’ along our British shores, so this is a great vegetable to start with if you’re planning to try more foraging. Reminscent of a lettuce leaf and quite thin, it’s usually a deep bright green colour. Make sure you gather from a beach with a blue flag and a good rating from the government’s Environment Agency – seaweeds act like sponges, soaking up the ample nutrients found in our oceans. This is why they’re so high in a wide variety of healthy minerals. Unfortunately, they’re not particularly discriminatory about what they absorb.




*It could cure your thyroid problem

Iodine is needed for healthy thyroid function, and seaweed has it in buckets – especially the kombu variety.

*It could feed the planet

There are around 3,500 different types of seaweed. They’re easy to grow (no fertilising or watering needed) and sustainable, too.

*It’s versatile

You can put seaweed in salads, pastas, desserts… the list is endless. From chocolate jelly with seaweed to bread made with dulce, we’ve got plenty of recipes for you to try.

*It’s been a favourite food for centuries

Seaweed was a major source of food in ancient times, especially in Japan and China. It is recorded that the dried seaweed used to make sushi, nori, was being made in Japan as early as the 700s.

Nuts may extend your life

Sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in a day to get everything done. So instead of trying to make your day longer, why not extend your life by an extra couple of years?

That’s how long your lifespan may be increased by eating nuts regularly — one handful (or about 30 grams) five or more days a week.

In one major study after another, it’s been found that people who eat nuts tend to live longer and suffer fewer deaths from cancer, heart disease and respiratory disease.

For women, eating just two handfuls of nuts a week may extend their lives as much as by jogging four hours a week.

Harvard University researchers found that women at high risk of heart disease who had a tablespoon of peanut butter five or more days a week appeared to nearly halve their risk of suffering a heart attack compared with women who ate one serving or less per week.

And adolescent girls who consumed just one or more servings of peanuts a week appeared to have significantly lower risk of developing lumpy breasts, which can be a marker for increased breast cancer risk.

Won’t nuts make you fat? To date, there have been about 20 clinical trials on nuts and weight, and not a single one showed the weight gain you might expect.

Walnuts
Walnuts

The nut-eaters — each of whom ate a handful or two a day — either had less weight gain than predicted, no weight gain at all, or actually lost weight.

In one trial, for instance, participants who ate up to 120 pistachios every day for three months didn’t appear to gain an ounce.

How could 30,000 calories vanish into thin air? One theory is that many of the cell walls of nuts pass undigested through the gastrointestinal tract — accounting for 10 per cent of the disappearing calories.




The fact that nuts can make you feel full faster than some other foods probably accounts for about 70 per cent of the rest.

And the remaining 20 per cent? The answer appears to lie in the ability of nuts to boost metabolism — so when you eat nuts, you burn more of your own fat.

Researchers have found that within an eight-hour period, people eating an average diet burned off about 20 grams of fat.

But when walnuts were included in the diet, they burned off about 31 grams of fat.