(NaturalNews) Compared to land vegetables like broccoli and carrots, sea vegetables (edible seaweeds) receive relatively little attention in health food circles. This is unfortunate, for while sea vegetables are more difficult to purchase and incorporate into meals than land vegetables, they do boast one outstanding characteristic - their nutritional value has remained unchanged for centuries. Indeed, while the nutritiousness of regular fruits and vegetables continues to suffer due to ongoing soil erosion and environmental pollution, the average seaweed still contains over 70 minerals and phytonutrients.
Despite their consistent nutritional profiles, however, not all sea vegetables are equal. The best of them rival the greatest soil-based superfoods, whereas others are less impressive and, in select cases, might even be detrimental for certain individuals to consume. Below is a list of the healthiest sea vegetables and their rejuvenating properties:
Kelp is arguably the best-known sea vegetable, and for good reason - it's packed with more vitamins and trace minerals than probably any other seaweed. Aside from containing impressive quantities of vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K (effectively covering the entire vitamin spectrum), kelp is also loaded with protein, fiber, iodine, and sodium alginate, the latter being a chemical compound that helps remove radioactive particles from the body. Moreover, a regular consumption of kelp - preferably raw - has been linked to improved thyroid function and digestive health, and it is also an effective blood purifier and demulcent.
Trailing just behind kelp in the nutritional department is hijiki, another seaweed that contains just about every trace mineral our oceans can provide. Like kelp, hijiki also contains iodine, fiber, protein, sodium alginate, and vitamins A and B, albeit typically in lower quantities. One area in which hijiki excels, however, is its calcium content. In fact, hijiki contains more calcium than any other sea vegetable on Earth, making it an excellent bone-builder and protector against osteoporosis and other bone diseases. It also contains respectable levels of magnesium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium - important trace minerals that work in tandem to aid our bodies' natural processes.
Beloved by the Japanese, kombu is an excellent 'all around' seaweed that contains robust quantities of almost of the major vitamins and minerals due to its high mineral salt content. Aside from being rich in vitamins B, C, D, and E, iodine, calcium, fiber, protein, iron, and potassium, kombu also contains a rare nutrient called germanium, which has excellent skin healing properties.
The following two seaweeds also deserve a mention in this list thanks to certain characteristics in their nutritional composition that set them apart from the rest of the crowd:
Nori - Nori is comprised of between 30-50 percent protein, making it an excellent natural protein source for vegetarians and vegans.
Agar - Although it doesn't compare to the brown seaweeds in nutritiousness, agar - a gelatinous matter that accumulates around the cell walls of red algae - is nonetheless an ideal weight loss food. Since it is comprised of approximately 80 percent fiber, agar swells in the stomach due to water absorption, thereby inducing a feeling of fullness that discourages overeating. It also contains no sugar or fat, and only 14 calories per tablespoon. Therefore, if you're seeking a healthy dessert that won't compromise your weight loss plans, consider purchasing some agar jellies. Sources for this article include:
About the author: Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.