In an attempt to lose weight, clients often ask for new “healthy” snack options. Everyone knows the health benefits but is pretty much tired of the usual suspects. Handful of mixed nuts? Veggie sticks dipped in hummus? Fruit mixed into Nonfat Greek Yogurt? Been there. Done that!
Some say, it’s nice to have something to crunch on. However, a serving (1 oz. or ¼ cup) of raw mixed nuts has 160 calories. Depending on the mix, 14 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 2 grams of sugar and 5 grams of protein. One can see how quickly that snack can become a small meal if a little more than “prescribed” is eaten consistently over time.
While one’s palate may enjoy the taste of the hummus, after a while, the carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, jicama, bell peppers, zucchini and cucumbers pretty much run their course of “excitement”.
Yes, alternating fruits (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, Mandarin oranges and etc.) allows for the taste of the yogurt to vary. However, since fruit is seasonal, there are times during the year when they may not provide the flavor punch one is looking for. Also, when bought fresh, the quality window closes quickly. Forget about them for a few days? Trash ‘em! Frozen? In a pinch, yes. But, definitely not as satisfying as eating fresh!
So far, these snacks come from the ground (nuts and beans for the hummus). The milk for the yogurt comes from animals of the land and the fruit are the sweetness of the trees. The last snack and today’s topic comes from the sea.
Believe it or not, there are many health benefits of Seaweed. Yes, Seaweed is a form of algae that grows in the sea. However it is extremely nutritious and can be a part of almost any “dish”. From sushi rolls to soups, salads, supplements, smoothies or just roasted, Seaweed is a healthy staple of all Asian cuisine.
Promotes Thyroid Function:
Seaweed absorbs concentrated amounts of iodine from the ocean. Therefore, it is good for the body’s thyroid as iodine aids in the production of hormones. A lack of iodine can cause unwanted weight changes, fatigue or neck swelling.
Good Source of Vitamins and Minerals:
One tablespoon of dried Seaweed (Spirulina and Chlorella) contains all of the essential amino acids promoting the development and maintenance of bone and muscle. It also provide a small but important source of vitamins A, C, E and K, and minerals like folate, zinc, sodium, calcium and magnesium. Moreover, it is a good source of omega-3 fats.
It contains plant compounds such as flavonoids and carotenoids that have been shown to protect your body’s cells from free radical damage.
Reduces Hunger and Waistline:
“Pound for Pound” its fiber content is higher than most fruits and vegetables . Furthermore, Seaweed is considered to have anti-obesity effects. A substance called fucoxanthin significantly reduced blood sugar levels and increased fat metabolism in lab rats.
Good for the Heart:
Studies show Seaweed also helps reduce blood cholesterol levels. And since heart disease can also be caused by excessive blood clotting, the carbohydrates called fucans also reduce blood clotting.
Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes:
Compounds in Seaweed like fucoxanthin and alginate may help reduce blood sugar levels resulting in reducing the risk of diabetes.
With all of the applause we can give Seaweed, there are some drawbacks.
As with many things, a positive can also be a negative. Yes, iodine is important in the function of the body’s thyroid. Interestingly, high levels of iodine can cause some of the same symptoms as its deficiency, including goiter and even thyroid cancer. An important consideration, the reason why the Japanese culture “gets away with” eating so much Seaweed without becoming ill, is that they also eat other foods along with it that help inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland. These foods are known as goitrogens (broccoli, cabbage and bok choy). Also, since seaweed is water-soluble, when it’s cooked, it can lose up to 90% of its iodine content.
Also, Seaweed can absorb and store minerals in concentrated amounts which can lead to mercury and lead poisoning. That said, the heavy metal content is is usually below the maximum concentration allowances in most countries. If possible, buy organic seaweed, as it’s less likely to contain significant amounts of heavy metal.
Ways to Enjoy:
While there are many ways to enjoy Seaweed, since this an article on snacks, here is a simple, and “recipe” for Nori Chips. Or you can just go to any grocery store or the Nijiya Market located at 2130 Sawtelle Blvd # 105, Los Angeles, CA 90025 and pick up packaged toasted nori. And you are ready to snack!
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