If you’re seeking a nutrient-packed addition to your diet, look no further than seaweed. Those superfoods are loaded with minerals, fatty acids, and essential amino acids, helping support your body’s health.
Now, if you’re on a plant-based diet, you might wonder: is seaweed vegan? That’s what we’ll explore in this article. So, stick around!
Is Seaweed Vegan?
Yes! Seaweed is 100% vegan-friendly. The former is a common name for aquatic plants and macroscopic algae—photosynthetic organisms visible to the naked eye.
Like plants, seaweed contains chlorophyll, the green pigment that allows plants to synthesize their food in a process known as photosynthesis.
Edible seaweed is a staple in many Asian cuisines. Some common examples of the former include nori, kombu, wakame, ogonori, and chlorella.
Typically, seaweed is used in salads, sushi, and soups. However, you can find those aquatic plants sold as dietary supplements.
What Are the Health Benefits of Seaweed for Vegans?
Since seaweed synthesizes and stores food, this organism is loaded with vital nutrients. Of course, both vegans and meat eaters can include the aquatic plant in their diet.
However, this superfood contains essential minerals, vitamins, and more that might be difficult to obtain for plant eaters.
Here are some of the benefits that seaweed can add to your vegan diet:
1. Support Thyroid Function
Seaweed is a source of vital minerals, including iodine. This aquatic plant is probably the best source of iodine. Only 10 grams of dried nori have 1.5 times the daily requirement of the mineral.
Why is that important for vegans?
Well, because iodine is mostly found in animal proteins besides sea vegetables. This mineral is vital for thyroid function since the organ relies on iodine to release hormones. Such hormones play numerous biological roles, like cell repair and energy production.
So, consuming seaweed can help you avoid and overcome iodine deficiency, maintaining the health of your thyroid gland.
2. High Protein Content
Getting enough protein is critical for growth and development. Lean meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy products are some of the most protein-dense foods. Since many of the former aren’t options on a vegan diet, plant eaters need to find other alternatives to get their daily protein requirement.
That’s when seaweed enters. Some algae, like chlorella, are around 50%-60% protein. It contains all nine essential amino acids found in animal meat and products. The best part is that the health benefits don’t stop there.
Chlorella detoxifies the body from harmful heavy metals, reduces inflammation, and supports the immune system. You’ll usually find those green seaweeds sold as supplements. You can incorporate the powdered form in smoothies, juices, soups, and stir-fries.
3. Source of Beneficial Fatty Acids
As you might know, fatty acids like omega-3 provide many health benefits, including reducing inflammation. That helps protect your body against high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other chronic diseases.
Fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, are the best-known sources of omega-3. However, you can get those healthy fatty acids from plant sources, like nuts and seeds.
The only problem is that vegan options typically contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), one of the three types of omega-3 fatty acids. The former isn’t the active form.
To make use of ALA, the body converts it into two other forms of omega-3—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). That process can take a while. Adding seaweed to your diet can help you get EPA and DHA directly without the extra step of metabolizing ALA.
So, is seaweed vegan?
Seaweeds are marine plants that make a valuable addition to a vegan diet. They’re high in iodine, helping support thyroid function and maintain hormonal balance.
Additionally, those green algae are a rich source of protein and beneficial fatty acids, like omega-3, both of which are mainly found in animal meat.
The best part is that you can add seaweed and its supplements to smoothies, juices, soups, and more recipes. So, don’t hesitate to explore the culinary options and reap the health benefits of this vegan-friendly superfood!