Thursday, September 10, 2009

10 Common Sea Vegetables

I remember inspecting a Chinese restaurant and I would always see the owner with a glass of water with green leaves of some kind in it.  

One day I asked him what he was drinking and he said, "seaweed." He could tell by my raised eyebrows that I was clueless.  He explained why he had this drink every day and the benefits he received. 

Fast forward to now and I finally understand what the owner of the restaurant was drinking and why he was drinking it.  I have never had the drink he was telling me about, but I have tried a few sea vegetables.  Sea vegetables are packed trace minerals that our body needs.

Common Sea Vegetables
  • Agar:  This is a tasteless natural gelatin used to make gelatin-type desserts.  Available in bars or flakes, very high in iodine.
  • Alaria:  Resembles wakame in appearance, taste, and nutrition, alaria is high in calcium, Vitamin A, and B vitamins.  Blackish green in color.
  • Arame:  Similar to hijiki in appearance, arame is rich in calcium and iodine.  It has a delicate flavor.
  • Carrageen:  Also called Irish moss, it is rich in vitamin A, iodine, and other minerals.  
  • Dulse:  Reddish in color with a soft, chewy texture and a salty, spicy flavor this is an appealing choice for those new to sea vegetables.  Dulse is high in protein, iron, potassium, and vitamins B-6 and B-12.
  • Hijiki:  The strongest-tasting sea vegetable, is often paired with onions and rood vegetables or added to soups.  Dehydrated, hijiki looks like black strings.  Hijiki is high in calcium and iron.
  • Kelp:  Light brown to dark green in color, kelp is similar to Japanese kombu and is used in much the same ways.  It contains a natural tenderizer.  Kelp is high in calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, chromium, and iodine.
  • Kombu:  Sometimes called "natural MSG," kombu is used to brighten the flavors of soups and stews and to tenderize beans.  It is usually sold as dried strips that is blackish green in color.
  • Nori:  Though deep purple in color, nori turns dark green when toasted which is how it is commonly sold.  Known for its role in sushi making, nori is available in pre-toasted, ready-to-use sheets and can be chopped or crumbled to use in soups and salads.
  • Wakame:  The traditional leafy addition to miso soup, wakame has a mild flavor that works well in salads or stir-fries with other vegetables.  It is high in calcium, B vitamins, and vitamin C. 
Source:  Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson

Sea vegetables are very versatile and are high in many trace minerals.  Dr. Tel-Oren (The Truth About Your Food) recommends that we have organically grown sea vegetables (algae) at least 3/4 times a week.

If you need ideas on how to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet visit:
Small amounts can be added to smoothies, salads, uncooked soups, crackers and whatever else your heart desires. If you haven't tried sea vegetables, consider giving them a try.

Take care!  :)