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All You Need To Know About: Seaweed

19 August 2019 by Food&HotelAsia

 

One of the few plants in the world to contain vitamin B12, seaweed, a staple in Japanese cuisine is finally making an appearance on western plates. This article explores what could just be the next superfood. 

Seaweed then and now  

Seaweed has been making waves recently. From appearing in a myriad of Asian snacks to being coined as the next superfood, it is hard to ignore the amount of traction the latter is getting. From being used by the Japanese for many generations as medicine and in dashi broths for ramen, seaweed has now evolved to a worldwide delicacy. We have the nori in our sushi, the hijiki in our salads, and last but not least the wakame in our miso soups. They are tasty and are definitely healthy to consume too. But healthy is just an understatement to the wealth of nutrients that seaweed holds, no matter the colour or type.

The benefits of Seaweed

Seaweed is packed full of essential amino acids, antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, various vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. It has high fibre content, which makes a person feel sated yet it contains close to zero calories, making it a really good snack for people who are diet conscious. It is also famously known for being a good source of iodine which is beneficial for our thyroid to function well, releasing hormones to help control growth, energy production, reproduction and also to repair damaged cells in your body. In addition, seaweed contains a variety of plant compounds that have strong antioxidant effects that help combat the free radicals in our body.

Things to take note when consuming them 

While seaweed seems like such a perfect snack, there is in fact a drawback to consuming too much of it. The risk – iodine overload in the body. High levels of iodine in a long term may interfere with thyroid function. While it is beneficial to consume seaweed and the iodine that comes along with it, it is important to be mindful of how much you’re consuming. For instance 25 g of fresh kombu can contain close to 22 times more iodine than the daily limit that is considered safe.

Another important aspect we should take note of is the origin of the seaweed. Seaweed is known to take nutrients from the seawater that they grow in, and if the seaweed we consumed was sourced from polluted waters, it is likely that harmful heavy metals would get into our system. Though regulations have tighten and companies are being more transparent, it is still a good idea to make sure that the seaweed you are consuming is organic and derived from a reputable source.