Seaweed: 2016’s answer to kale!

If 2015 will be remembered for kale and spinach becoming as essential to more diets than bread and milk then 2016 might well become the year of seaweed. The idea that we can’t stay satisfied with any particular food that we deem super for anymore than 12 months baffles me but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take a closer look at the new kid on the block. 

The question is always the same with new trends in the fitness world: are we looking at the next best thing or the latest fad to sweep the community? Well it isn’t as if seaweed has emerged from nowhere to find its way into more and more of our diets. Fried seaweed has been available from Chinese restaurants for as long as I can remember and any sushi platter in the world just doesn’t look right unless it has something wrapped in it.

What we are seeing now though is a move from seaweed only being present in Asian cuisine to it being readily used in Western meals too. And now what we must look at is what is the nutritional profile of this plentiful algae.

It is true to say that seaweed is a source of some vitamins and minerals but it is just as true to say that you can see this, and other benefits, exaggerated to extraordinary lengths. So yes, seaweed does contain both vitamin A and C, as well as possessing noticeable levels of calcium too. But is it common to eat seaweed in a great enough quantity to provide decent levels of these nutrients? Well not usually, no.

Plenty of foods can provide all three of those nutrients though. Where seaweed is relatively unique is with its almost monopolistic grip on iodine; a nutrient that possesses the ability to maintain a healthy thyroid gland that controls so many of the hormones flowing around your body. And it is important to realise that some of these hormones can have a huge impact on how your body loses/gains weight and the extent to which the work you do in the gym will translate into success in your own eyes.

Somehow the thyroid has become a cop-out for those who want to justify not putting in the work. And while that should be discouraged it doesn’t stop a very great number of people genuinely having issues with their thyroid gland. The belief that this is irreversible for all has been unfortunately digested by too many. An iodine deficiency has been shown to negatively impact the thyroid and is therefore directly related to the issues that arise as a result, including fatigue, a difficulty to lose weight and being at greater risk of contracting disease.

As always though, too much iodine can have an adverse effect too. For example, too much of certain types of seaweed can result in our bodies taking on too much potassium and causes heart palpitations in those with prior kidney problems. It will be no surprise to find that moderation is the key here.

Unsurprisingly, seaweed comes from the sea and if that body of water is contaminated so will the seaweed. Luckily it is becoming far more popular to consume now and can already be found at reputable online grocers as well as in some supermarkets. No one said kale will solve every problem that you have with your health and I hope no one will say that about seaweed. But if you like being ahead of the crowd with the latest trends then this blog is predicting seaweed to be the must have green food for the next few years.

Ollie Lawrence
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