Sea vegetable, commonly known as seaweed, is a marine vegetation which grows on hard surfaces and supplies marine animals with nutrients which are needed to survive. These vegetables can also be eaten by human beings. They are very high in nutrients like vitamins and minerals.
Sea vegetables are extensively used in Japanese, Chinese and Korean cooking. Common edible seaweeds are kelp, alaria, hijiki, dulse and nori.
Kelp, also called as Kombu, is a large leaved seaweed. It belongs to the brown algae category. It is brown or dark green in color. It is dried and used as a flavouring, tenderizer and even flavor enhancer. It is a rich source of protein, iodine, calcium, magnesium, folate and iron. When using kelp, it is boiled or soaked in warm water prior to use. It is chopped into small pieces and used. Also, the water in which kelp is boiled can be used as a base for soups, stocks, stews and gravies. Kelp leave can also be used for wrapping fish and vegetables to be served as an appetizer.
Nori is a popular Japanese ingredient used for making sushi. It is green coloured paper thin wrapper used for making salads and pasta as well. Nori contains high amount of nutrients like vitamin A, B1, B2, B12 and even E. It is also a good source of vitamin C which an antioxidant. Nori is virtually fat free. It is a good source of iodine.
Hijiki, also spelled as Hiziki, is a fine thread like sea vegetable similar to fine black angel hair pasta. Hajiki is often served as a side dish along with vegetables, fish or rice. It can also be mixed in sushi rice. It is a good source of dietary fiber which aids digestion and weight loss. It contains minerals like calcium, iron and magnesium in plenty.
Dulse is a red colored sea vegetable. The salt content of this vegetable is very high and is consumed as a snack. It is generally used for making soups, sauces, gravies and stews. It contains high protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, iron and potassium.
Health and Nutrition Facts
Serving size - 10 g
Calories - 26 cal, Sodium - 170 mg, Dietary fiber - 4 g, Protein - 2 g
- Sea vegetables are very low in calories and contain practically no fat. It is high in sodium and should be avoided by hypertensive patients.
- They are a good source of dietary fiber and protein.
- Sea vegetables have better bio- available iron than any other source. They contains high amount of vitamin C which helps to increase the absorption of iron into the body.
- It contains highly concentrated form of iodine which is essential for hormonal functionality of the body.
- They play a very essential role in lowering the risk of cancer specially breast cancer.
- Studies have proven the cholesterol lowering properties of these vegetables. They are very beneficial for people suffering from cardiovascular diseases.
Serving size - 1 sheet (2.5 g)
Calories - 10 cal, Fat - 0, Dietary fiber - 1 g, Protein - 1 g
- Nori is very low in calories, contains no fat and is a very good source of fiber and protein.
- It is very good for people who are on a diet and want to lose weight. It contains good quality vegetable protein which is healthier than meat protein.
- It is a very good source of vitamins and has been termed as the reservoir of vitamins. It contains vitamin A, B complex and C in abundance.
- It is also a good source of iron and calcium which is very important for women.
Serving size - 2 tsp (10 g)
Calories - 4 cal, Carbohydrates - 1 g, Sodium - 23 mg, Potassium - 9 mg
- Kelp is low in calories and a natural source of iodine. Iodine plays a very important role in the proper functioning of the thyroid gland.
- It also reduces risk of cancer as it acts as an antioxidant. It is also called as the powerhouse of iron.
Where to buy and how to store
- Sea vegetables are usually available at all asian stores.
- When packed, they can be stored at room temperature but when the pack is opened, they have to be stored in air tight containers.