The Gallbladder May Benefit from Seaweeds Too
Driven by globalization and cultural diffusion, food products like nori, kombu, and wakame are now widely available worldwide – and studies have shown that there are many nutritional and health benefits from the consumption of edible seaweeds.
Seaweed contains 5-47% of protein (depending on the variety and environment grown)in the form of essential amino acids. It is also rich in dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, B, C, and E, and vital minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Digestive Benefits of Edible Seaweeds
1. Regulates and improves bowel movements
The soluble fiber in seaweed can bind with water, bulking up to 20 times its volume, decreasing the transit time of bowel movements through the colon. The fiber also traps toxins and other waste from digested food, helping to expel them from the body.
2. Suppresses gastrointestinal inflammation
The fiber from edible seaweed helps protect the stomach lining from harsh enzymes, low pH or acidic environments, and potential carcinogens. Diets rich in seaweed fiber may also help reduce gastrointestinal inflammation, lowering the risk of ulcers and other related diseases, including certain types of cancer.
3. Reduces the risk of cardiovascular & metabolic diseases
Edible seaweeds have been shown to decrease total cholesterol levels and improve hypertension. Seaweed fiber can also dilute and slow down the action of carbohydrates in the gut, positively impacting blood glucose levels and insulin resistance.
Caution in Eating Seaweeds
Firstly, make sure that your food source is safe. Seaweed is prone to contamination from polluted water. Like eating certain fishes, its consumption is a potential route for toxic heavy metals to enter the body.
If you have Hashimoto’s or thyroid issues, check with your healthcare practitioner before incorporating seaweed into your daily diet since it is very rich in iodine. Sometimes, a small serving is enough to exceed the daily requirement for iodine.
Rajapakse, Niranjan (2011). [Advances in Food and Nutrition Research] Marine Medicinal Foods – Implications and Applications, Macro and Microalgae Volume 64 || Nutritional and Digestive Health Benefits of Seaweed. , (), 17–28. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-387669-0.00002-8
Brownlee, I., Fairclough, A., Hall, A., & Paxman, J. (2012). The potential health benefits of seaweed and seaweed extract.