What are the health benefits of seaweed, according to RDs

JA few years ago, the thought of adding a bunch of kale, spinach, or even tomatoes to a smoothie recipe might have instantly triggered your internal ick factor. In the early 2000s, my favorite smoothies were strictly limited to banana and strawberry combos, like my Jamba juice order: the 16-ounce Razzmatazz with extra strawberries, please.

However, as I entered adulthood and my palate became much more *refined* (TYSM, Ina Garten), the idea of ​​drinking a green smoothie became something I enjoyed and, dare I say, I even wished. These days, experimenting with a bunch of new, healthy ingredients in a smoothie has become as popular as Hailey Bieber (and her $17 smoothie at Erewhon).

TBH, sometimes I feel like I’m conducting an elaborate science experiment when I throw a dash of maca, a pinch of cayenne, and a dash of coconut kefir into the blender. And with smoothies and juice bars up to the challenge, you can find plenty of highly nutritious supplements like collagen powder or blue spirulina on most menus. However, one that has recently caught our attention is seaweed. If you’re curious about whether or not seaweed has real health benefits and why everyone seems to be adding it to their smoothies right now, you’ve come to the right place.

In all honesty, Well+Good saw this coming last year. One of the key wellness trends we predicted would be very popular in 2020 was eating sea vegetables, also known as what’s used to make the 145 edible forms of seaweed, including wakame, kombu, nori, and of course, seaweed. “Since 2018 in particular, the seaweed category has grown by more than 63 percent in sales with strong double-digit growth year over year,” said Diego Norris, director of marketing for gimMe snacks. at Well+Good. Sea vegetables have already appeared in vegan crab cakes, packaged ramen noodles, and even seaweed cubes meant to be mixed into smoothies this year, and ICYMI, spirulina is also a form of ‘alga. So are we surprised by this new (ahem) wave of smoothies? Not exactly, but since Seaweed Smoothies are the latest manifestation of the sea greens trend, we obviously had to learn more about them.

To better understand what’s the deal with this ocean drink, we spoke to two registered dietitians who shared their honest thoughts on seaweed and revealed whether it’s a hit or miss shake, and the answer was…may be?

What exactly is seaweed?

Sea moss, also known as Chondrus crispus, or Irish moss, is a common edible red seaweed found on the rocky shores of the North Atlantic. It can vary in color: you can spot green, yellow, red, brown or black varieties. And just like other forms of seaweed, algae and seaweed, kelp is an edible marine plant with a host of impressive health benefits.

While you may not be familiar with seaweed as an ingredient on its own, you may be surprised to learn that it is found in a number of commonly consumed foods, including ice cream, cottage cheese, and dairy-free milk, in the form of carrageenan. The cell wall of marine algae contains carrageenan and C. curly is the original source of this commercially used thickener and gelling agent widely used in the food industry. This food additive is produced by mixing seaweed extract with alkaline substances.

Health benefits of seaweed

“Seaweed is definitely making waves as a new top smoothie ingredient,” says Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “While it might not be the first thing you think to add to your blender when making a smoothie, it’s quite nutrient dense and has been linked to many health benefits. For one thing, it’s been said which supports gut health, is antibacterial, antiviral, helps maintain a strong and healthy immune system, and boosts heart health.”

When breaking down the nutrient content, Ehsani explains that a quarter cup of seaweed contains ten calories, zero grams of fat, three grams of carbohydrates, half a gram of dietary fiber and another half gram of protein. However, he notes that much more research needs to be done to assess conclusive evidence on the health benefits of seaweed.

Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, CDN, registered dietitian, founder and director of Real Nutrition, also praises the potential health benefits of eating this ocean kelp. “We love all things from seaweed and seaweed, as these plants provide a variety of minerals, including iodine, that we don’t get from our regular diet efficiently,” says Shapiro. “Seaweed is rich in fiber, which not only not only does it help lower cholesterol levels, but it can help with digestion, regularity, and overall gut health.” And that’s not all: Shapiro also says seaweed is packed with antioxidants and iron.

Before you dive into the ocean or run to the store to get your hands on some seaweed for your daily smoothies, Shapiro notes that it’s good to keep in mind that seaweed isn’t yet regulated by the FDA. “The nutritional breakdown of seaweed also changes depending on where it grows. Some seaweeds can be too high in iodine, which can be detrimental to thyroid health,” adds Ehsani. To err on the side of caution, he advises consuming seaweed in moderation until the research on it is clearer.

What is the best way to consume seaweed?

“Seaweed has a strong smell, taste, and texture, which can be a bit off-putting for some people. However, when mixed with delicious and decadent smoothie ingredients, you may not taste the flavor,” says Shapiro . Ehsani adds that you should check with your doctor before consuming seaweed.

This gut-healthy golden milkshake recipe tastes like sunshine in a cup:

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