When it comes to healthy living, what you do outside of the gym is equally as important as what you do in it. Every once in awhile, a food trend rocks the industry so deeply everyone wants a piece of it—think kale, coconut water, chia seeds—but rumor has it, for 2016 seaweed’s got next.
Obviously the concept isn’t new, seaweed has a proud place in the Asian culinary landscape and boasts containing more Vitamin C content than an orange. We caught up with nutritional therapist Louisa Copping of the Scottish-based brand, Mara Seaweed to talk shop on this unique saltwater vegetable.
Fitbox: How exactly does a vegetable become trendy?
Louisa Copping: [There’s no science behind it] but It needs to be a mix of intriguing, tasty and nutritious.
FB: Why is seaweed considered a superfood?
LC: Seaweed is one of the most nutritious plants on the planet. It absorbs nutrients from the sea making it a nutritional powerhouse.
FB: How does seaweed stack up against kale?
LC: Pretty well—although seaweed and kale are completely different but still considered superfoods in their own right. Since the “flavor profiles” of each vegetable are different, you’d used them differently in recipes. Both are relatively high in protein and fiber as well as various minerals and vitamins.
There are many different species of seaweed and they all have different nutrient profiles. As one grows on land and the other in the sea they will absorb different nutrients—by incorporating them into your diet you get the best of both worlds.
FB: Other than sushi, what are other creative ways I can incorporate seaweed into my diet?
LC: Our products are a really great way to incorporate seaweed into your diet as they can be sprinkled into pretty much any dish you are making. It’s just a case of learning what seaweed goes best with what, much the same way as different herbs go well with different foods. You can bake with it, use it in curries and stir fries as well as incorporating into burger mix and marinades.
FB: What are the benefits behind consuming extra Vitamin A, C and calcium?
LC: Due to our modern lifestyles, most people do not consume enough vitamins and minerals so it’s always good to eat foods that are nutritionally dense.
Vitamin A is a key nutrient involved in maintaining the immune system, plus at this time of year it is really important to get enough of it. It’s also one of the keys to maintaining of healthy vision.
Vitamin C is water soluble—meaning we cannot store it—therefore it is important that we are constantly increasing our levels. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant and is necessary for the maintenance of healthy skin, teeth and bones. Not to mention, it also helps aid iron absorption.
Finally, Calcium is not only needed to keep our teeth and bones strong, it is also required to make energy.
FB: Seaweed is known to be a great source of iodine, why is that beneficial to your body?
LC: We need iodine in order to create thyroid hormones. Thyroid hormones basically regulate our metabolism and make sure we do everything from grow properly to digest our food. Iodine is also needed for energy production as well as normal brain development.
FB: How much seaweed should you be incorporating into your diet on a weekly basis?
LC: It depends on the form and the species. Most are safe to eat very regularly, some however do contain higher levels of iodine—you wouldn’t want to eat too much of these raw [note: cooking reduces the iodine content].
FB: Should we consider seaweed pills?
LC: If the brand is reputable then yes, why not? I would recommend using it is a culinary ingredient though instead as it tastes fab, is very versatile and adds another dimension to your cooking.
FB: What other “sea vegetables” should we look out for?
LC: Just keep your eyes open for different species of seaweed and get creative. There are loads of good recipes out there that will tell you how to incorporate seaweed in everything from bread and cake to salads and pasta.
FB: Anything else you’d like to add?
LC: Since we have destroyed much of the surface of the earth through farming, it makes sense to start making the most of seaweed. It is a fantastic, natural resource that grows in abundance. While seaweed is considered a “trend “ for 2016 hopefully since it’s such an incredible resource it will be here to stay.