Wellness Nutrition Health Benefits of Seaweed Seaweed has antioxidants and vitamins but also offers possible benefits like blood sugar stability and healthy gut promotion. By Jenna Helwig Updated on March 30, 2020 Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page Seaweed, also known as algae, is an aquatic plant without flowers that is mainly produced for humans to eat. It has long been a staple food of many Asian diets, particularly in Japanese cuisine. You may find seaweed, also known as algae, most commonly in sushi, salads, soups, and on their own as snacks. Also, some seaweed benefits include healthy gut promotion, blood sugar regulation, and vitamin content. Here's more about seaweed, including its benefits, nutrition, risks, and ways to enjoy it. Heidi Yount/Getty Images Supports Thyroid Function Your thyroid gland in the neck produces and releases thyroid hormone, which controls your metabolism. One of the causes of hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid, is a lack of iodine. Hypothyroidism causes symptoms like: Developing a goiter, which is a large growth on your neck and near your thyroid glandFeeling fatiguedGaining weight Adding seaweed to your diet is a great way to increase your intake of iodine if you have an underactive thyroid. In one study, researchers found that some types of seaweed can provide rich amounts of iodine. Has Antioxidants Vitamins A, C, and E, all present in seaweed, are excellent sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent cell damage by decreasing the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are substances that contribute to chronic diseases, like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and certain types of cancer. Antioxidants can also boost your immune system. Promotes a Healthy Gut Fiber helps promote a healthy gut by increasing bowel regularity. Seaweed is a great source of fiber. Researchers reported that 23% to 64% of dried seaweed is fiber. May Support Weight Management Adding seaweed to your diet may help you carefully manage your weight. Seaweed has few calories, which can help keep your calorie intake lower. Brown algae, which includes kelp, wakame, kombu, and arame, contain fucoxanthin. Fucoxanthin is a chemical that has antioxidant properties and also helps reduce your risk of obesity. Could Decrease Risk of Cardiovascular Disease Seaweed may also help decrease your risk of developing cardiovascular disease—the most common cause of death in the United States. One of the factors contributing to your risk of developing cardiovascular disease is high cholesterol. Researchers explained in one study that the vitamins and minerals found in seaweed, particularly fiber, can help reduce cholesterol. Keeps Blood Sugar Levels Stable It's possible that seaweed could decrease your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Among its antioxidant properties, fucoxanthin also helps regulate your blood sugar by reducing the amount of sugar your bloodstream absorbs. Nutrition of Seaweed Seaweed, also known as algae, packs antioxidants—including vitamins A, C, and E—and is a great source of iodine. One cup, or 15 grams, of dried seaweed contains: Calories: 44.7 caloriesProtein: 4.77 gramsFat: 0.601 gramsCarbohydrates: 7.86 gramsFiber: 0.84 gramsSugars: 0.456 gramsVitamin A: 2.1 microgramsVitamin C: 0.75 milligramsVitamin E: 0.75 milligrams However, the amounts of vitamins and minerals in seaweed vary slightly depending on the type of algae. There are different classes of algae, such as: Brown algae, like kelp, wakame, kombu, and arameRed algae, like dulse and noriGreen algae, like sea lettuce Risks of Seaweed Although seaweed has several health benefits, ensure you don't have too much of the tasty marine plant. However, it's essential to proceed with caution while reviewing the iodine content of your seaweed. Too little or too high amounts of iodine can adversely affect your thyroid function. Also, some types of seaweed have a lot of heavy metals, like arsenic and lead. If you're taking seaweed supplements, double-check the ingredients. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate the amounts of those heavy metals in seaweed supplements. Standard Disclaimer: Dietary supplements are minimally regulated by the FDA and may or may not be suitable for you. The effects of supplements vary from person to person and depend on many variables, including type, dosage, frequency of use, and interactions with current medications. Please speak with your healthcare provider or pharmacist before starting any supplements. Tips for Consuming Seaweed Some of the most popular types of edible seaweed include nori, kelp, wakame, and dulse. Look for varieties of seaweed online or at Asian supermarkets, natural-food stores, and well-stocked grocery stores. Most seaweed is sold, dried, consumed, or reconstituted in warm water. Some seaweed, like kelp, is also available frozen, which means it doesn't need to be reconstituted. Executive chef Jeremy Rock Smith, a faculty member at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Stockbridge, Mass., recommended: Adding kombu when preparing dried beansSneaking kelp into slaws for a great depth of flavorShaking store-bought furikake (a topping that includes sesame seeds and nori) onto popcorn, roasted vegetables, cooked fish, or omelets Think of nori as the gateway seaweed. You can find it in sushi rolls and sheets as "seaweed snacks." Kelp is the primary ingredient in dashi, a Japanese stock that forms the base of miso soup. Also, kelp noodles are a staple dish in Korean cuisine. You can even add kelp powder to smoothies. Wakame is the main component of most seaweed salads and the wide, slippery seaweed you often find in miso soup. Usually sold dried, dulse is available whole, flaked, or powdered. Some people say it tastes like bacon when they fry dulse. You can also: Add seaweed to chicken bone brothSnack on nori and dulse right out of the bag Whip up a seaweed salad with sesame oil and garlic A Quick Review Seaweed has many possible benefits, from blood sugar regulation to decreased heart disease risk. The plant is available in various types and has vitamins and antioxidants. There are risks to eating seaweed, such as its iodine content's potential to cause thyroid problems. Still, the different types of seaweed make the plant versatile, as you can eat seaweed as a snack or as part of meals. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 14 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Lozano Muñoz I, Díaz NF. 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