Brown seaweed. The name isn’t all that appetizing, but this salty sea vegetable is popular in many cuisines. Sometimes known as bladderwrack, brown seaweed has achieved legendary health status, but there’s limited medical proof of its efficacy. What is brown seaweed? Should you incorporate it into your diet? Read on to find out.
What Is Brown Seaweed?
Fucus vesiculosus is an algae that grows in cooler oceans all around the globe. You may have seen its slimy, green-brown branches on the beach. It is common in Asian cuisines, where it is eaten raw, cooked, or pickled.
The flavor and texture of brown seaweed might pleasantly surprise you. Whether pickled (as it often is in Asian meals) or raw, it has a pickle-like crunch. Korean cooks serve up brown seaweed in its own soup, but the Korean name for that, miyeok guk, might not sound any more inviting than “brown seaweed.” If you’re trying brown seaweed for the first time, consider incorporating a bit into plain miso soup. Its crunch and flavor make bland foods like that more interesting.
What Are the Nutritional Benefits of Brown Seaweed?
Brown seaweed is packed with healthy stuff. It is an excellent source of iodine, a necessary nutrient (but also one you shouldn’t get too much of). It also provides iron, energizing B12, and dietary fiber, along with folate and riboflavin.
That nutritional profile suggests that seaweed could help raise energy levels. The magnesium and seaweed’s fiber will help you avoid constipation. Some medical testing suggests brown seaweed can fight some cancers and infections.
What Are the Medical Claims About Brown Seaweed?
Brown seaweed has been proclaimed as a miracle cure for many conditions. One of the more outlandish claims is “detoxifying” radiation, as well as causing cancerous tumors to “self-destruct.” There is no evidence for these claims.
Brown seaweed does, however, contain elements that can be medically helpful when properly used. Unlike a lot of so-called health foods, brown seaweed has been extensively tested for benefits. Brown seaweed contains an element called fucoidan, which has been isolated and tested for its effect on cancer and infections. Tests show fucoidan’s potential in eradicating or slowing the spread of colorectal and breast cancer. Other tests indicate great potential in the prevention of breast cancer.
Can It Help You Lose Weight?
Brown seaweed is a source of fucoxanthin. Studies have shown that a combination of fucoxanthin and pomegranate oil supplements can aid weight loss and reduce liver fat. It’s important to note that you would have to take a supplement containing higher doses of fucoxanthin than you’d get from eating seaweed in order to reap this benefit.
Eating Brown Seaweed
Eating brown seaweed provides a nutritional boost of fiber, iron, iodine, and magnesium. It might also provide these cancer-fighting ingredients, though results are unclear. Brown seaweed supplements, usually found in capsules, provide higher levels of the good stuff if brown, slick, and salty doesn’t get your mouth watering.
Can You Get Too Much Seaweed?
The biggest danger of getting too much brown seaweed is consuming too much iodine. While necessary for healthy thyroid function, too much iodine can cause hyperthyroidism. Symptoms include a rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and sudden weight loss. Like anything that lives in the sea, brown seaweed can absorb pollutants like arsenic and cadmium. These elements can damage your liver and pancreas.
Brown seaweed is a healthy vegetable that makes a good dietary addition. Use it to add a salty tang to soups, or mix it into a salad. It will add fiber, iron, iodine, and other health benefits to your diet. Brown seaweed supplements may also help in weight loss. Consult your doctor before adding supplements to your regimen and follow package directions.