Minerals and Trace
Sea vegetables present these essential nutrients to your body in a chelated, colloidal optimally balanced form so they are bio-available; that is, your body "understands" how to absorb and utilize them. Major minerals examples are:
Trace elements are especially essential to the countless enzymatic functions constantly occurring in your body. Examples are:
It's really quite convenient. Simply add small amounts of cut, bite sized pieces to your favorite soups, salads, sandwiches, stews, pasta, grains, veggie dishes and stir-fries. Use as an entree or seasoning. Each "Ocean Delight Sampler" package comes with instructions and recipe suggestions. Our nutritionally power packed "Tri-Blend Sea Mix" is already chopped and mixed for easily adding to any recipe. Visit our Recipes section.
Seaweeds like kelp, digitata, alaria, NORI and dulse can be softened in a marinade that includes vinegar or lemon juice (to help release minerals into solution) together with other liquids and sweeteners like tamari, ginger, seasonings, juice, honey, etc. The longer the seaweeds marinate, the softer they become. Keep refrigerated until consumed.
Most sea vegetables are sometimes rinsed and usually soaked in fresh water before use, but with some varieties may be unnecessary. Dulse, for instance, may be eaten right out of the bag as a healthy, "salty" snack. Kelp, Nori or Digitata may be roasted in a low temperature oven until crisp and then crumbled or ground for easy use as a condiment or soup & veggie mix. Several varieties are often lightly soaked to re-hydrate and then cut into attractive shapes and sizes and added to any favorite, soup, stew, salad, pasta or grain recipe.
Eventually, one way or another, your body which is made up mostly of water needs to hydrate food in order to transact with it, so why not give it a break? Unless you really want a salty condiment, use recipes that involve water- hydration, soaking or simmering. The choice is yours: raw, rinsed, to heat or not to heat, to cook or not to cook, soak, simmer or even roast..... truly, your choice is limitless.
The shelflife of soft dulse, kept cool, is a year. The shelf life of all other seaweeds, including crisp dulse, is more than two years, provided the seaweeds are kept sealed up at room temperature or cooler and out of direct sunlight. Glass jars will give the best results for long term storage.
Sea veggies keep well unless subjected to a lot of moisture, heat and/or direct light. They have a shelf life at least 2 years at room temperature in tightly sealed container out of direct light. Recommended storage containers are our re-sealable bags or, for bulk amounts, glass jars with screw top lids. It is not a good idea to rinse sea veggies and store unless you're going to use in 24-48 hrs or refrigerate.
If sea veggies are stored in conditions of excessive moisture or heat, mold or deterioration may occur which is readily visible as discoloration or smell-able as mushrooms or seafood past their prime. Sea veggies also readily absorb odors, so keep them in a tightly sealed container. Sometimes as plants dry out a whitish powder will appear; this powder consists of precipitated salts and sugars and is safe to eat - you can rinse or use as is.
What about Sodium?
Modern humans run into trouble when our modern "civilized" diet reverses the natural availability of sodium and potassium - potassium is leached out of processed foods, and sodium is used extravagantly as a flavor enhancer and preservative. Topsy-turvy! Because this imbalance - and the lack of magnesium and calcium - is implicated in high blood pressure disease, and because unnatural, manufactured table salt is exclusively sodium chloride, sodium has gotten a bad rap!
Sea vegetables provide bio-available, essential sodium balanced with potassium (as well as with calcium and magnesium) at relatively low levels per serving. For instance, Dulse contains less sodium per serving than one slice of most commercial breads and one half to one third the sodium in one cup of cooked beet greens. Kelp has 1/3 as much sodium, Alaria ˝, Dulse 1/8 and Laver 1/9 as 1/2 teaspoon of table salt! In any case, a light rinse of whole sea vegetables before use lessens sea vegetables' sodium and potassium content without effecting calcium or iron, etc. Use rinse water for other cooking needs in place of table salt.
Susan Asanovic, M.S., R.D., states unequivocally, "Almost everyone, except renal, severely hypertensive and CHF (congestive heart failure) patients, can enjoy Sea Vegetables in varying amounts. Even patients on modified clinical diets can healthfully incorporate moderate to liberal amounts of sea vegetables into their diets; consider limiting table salt, shoyu, tamari, miso and processed foods. For patients on a no-added-salt diet (about 2500 mg), sea vegetables can give just the right saltiness, and are far better in nutrition and taste than commercial "lite" salts. Used in moderation, they can be enjoyed in a typical serving of 5 to 10 grams (about 1/4 oz.)."
What about Iodine?
Iodine is the main component of the hormone produced by the thyroid gland, which regulates our metabolism - thyroid hormone accelerates cellular reactions, increases oxygen consumption and basal metabolism, and influences growth and development, energy metabolism, differentiation and protein synthesis.
Dr. Linda Rector Page, author and herbalist, writes in "Healthy Healing" that "Iodine is essential to life... it is an important element of alertness, and rapid brain activity, and a prime deterrent to arterial plaque. Iodine is also a key factor in the control and prevention of many endocrine deficiency conditions prevalent today, such as breast and uterine fibroids, tumors, prostate inflammation, adrenal exhaustion, and toxic liver and kidney states."
Some people are concerned about radioactive iodine in seaweed. "Seaweed Man" Larch Hanson states that, "Since none of our Seaweed selection grows near a nuclear reactor and for the fact that the harvested Sea Vegetation is stored for 60 days before being put on the market, all iodine 131 will have radioactively decayed anyway. As long as the body has adequate iodine 127, it won’t absorb iodine 131."
Unfortunately, not all iodine is good for us and the human thyroid cannot distinguish between life sustaining iodine-127 and radioactive iodine-131. On this subject Ryan Drum further warns, "The real reason for making sure that iodine consumption is at the high end is to insure a full body complement of iodine at all times as preventative medicine against nuclear or radiation contamination. A full body load of iodine 127 from seaweeds (or any source) will tend to allow the body to reject topical and air and food-source iodine 131, particularly from fresh milk." Another important reason to get plenty of sea vegetables' Iodine 127 into the thyroid is to prevent uptake of radioactive and toxic Iodine 131, which in modern times has a background presence in our food and air supply, and which is likely to be a major pollutant of a nuclear accident. By "loading" the thyroid with healthy Iodine, we can maintain our health even if fallout levels increase dramatically. On a cautionary note, Dr. Drum advises that those people who are iodine sensitive should avoid the northern deep-water kelps that have exceptionally large amounts of iodine. Sea vegetables such as Dulse, Nori, and Bladderwrack have lower concentrations of iodine and may provide a good alternative.
In general, brown sea vegetables (kelps) offer more bio-available organic iodine than red sea vegetables (dulse and nori). Whole leaf KELP (Laminaria longicruris) has approximately 450 mcg. (micrograms or parts per million) iodine per gram. Our DIGITATA kelp (Laminaria digitata), has even higher amounts, about 5000 mcg. In comparison, DULSE contains 50 mcg per gram. These amounts are approximations as there is variation depending on season of harvest and the age of plant.
The 'SeaWeed Man' makes the following comments: "A researcher in Texas called me and asked for samples of all my seaweeds. He was studying iodine so that an iodine supplement could be developed. "Why?" I asked. "Well," he replied, "there really aren't good supplements for iodine available to the general public. Your seaweed research covers the subject pretty well, but now we have the perchlorate problem." "Yes," I said, "I've heard a little bit about perchlorate. That's the chemical that's associated with rocket fuel, and it's also released in a car when the air bag is activated. It's associated with explosives, right?" "Right," he said, "and there's a lagoon of stale rocket fuel in Nevada, 250 million gallons, that is leaching into the Colorado River. The Colorado River irrigates the southwest U.S. and Mexico. 30% of this country's produce is grown in that water system. The broad leaf vegetables like lettuce take up perchlorate, and perchlorate blocks transport of iodine to the thyroid. So we have an epidemic of hypothyroidism in this country, people who are overweight with sluggish metabolisms." I thought for a moment, and then I said. "So that's why, when the Challenger blew up and was scattered all across Texas, people were told that if they discovered a piece of the rocket, to report it but not to touch it." "Right," the researcher replied. "They were afraid of perchlorate contamination of people and water. They had divers in ponds, searching for pieces. It's nasty stuff." I said, "In my business, I encourage people to eat 3-5 grams of seaweed each day, to protect their thyroids. 3-5 grams is about the same weight as 3-5 paper clips. That's approximately three 'Ocean Delight Sampler' packs per person per year."
Finally, a cautionary note about getting too much of a good thing. We all need between 150 and 1,100 micrograms in our daily diets to keep our thyroids healthy and prevent uptake of radioactive Iodine. Healthy thyroids will "spill" unneeded iodine. But some people with sensitive thyroids, particularly nursing mothers, postmenopausal women, or anyone with an unusual thyroid dysfunction may have adverse reactions to excess dietary iodine (most often if you decrease the intake of dietary iodine the condition goes away.) Please consult with your health care practitioner if you have any questions about your consumption of iodine.
Vitamin B-12 shows up in many seaweeds, using several different methods of analysis. But is it really Vitamin B-12, or an "analogue," a molecule that looks like Vitamin B-12, but it not able to be utilized by the body? Dietitians and nutritionists disagree on this hot topic, but a definitive clinical study has yet to be done, something MCSV has tried to organize but has not found the funding to accomplish.
However, an investigation by two researchers in Great Britain in the 1950's yielded an important clue as to how sea veggies could be a rare vegetable source of Vitamin B-12 - which is produced by bacteria and usually found only in animals. They confirmed the presence of cyanocobalamin (Vit B-12) in dulse, but could not find the mechanism by which the plant might be metabolizing the Vit B-12. The two scientists speculated that it was made "perhaps by bacteria living in the surrounding seawater or on the surface of the plant." (It is well known that various species of bacteria, or epiphytes, use the plants' surface as their substrate). Please consult with your health care practitioner if you have any questions about your consumption of B-12.
One of the more important amino acids found especially in kelp is glutamic acid, the basis for synthetic MSG. This amino acid naturally enhances flavors and tenderizes high protein foods like beans while aiding in their digestion. Glutamic acid also improves mental and nervous system activity; provides energy, and is thought to help control alcoholism, schizophrenia and the craving for sugar.
Vegetables and Fats
The brown sea vegetables have been tested for Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids, and while they are present in only small amounts, they occur in a favorable ratio of between 1.5 and 2 to 1 (the NIH suggests an optimal ratio of between 2 and 3 to 1). As importantly, sea veggies contribute all those minerals, vitamins, and trace elements needed for the optimum utilization of the omega 3's and 6's.
Vegetables and Fiber
The fiber in land plants (oats, apples, and veggies) is made up of cellulose, lignans, and pectin. Sea veggies have their own unique fiber with interesting medicinal properties. For instance, alginic acid in kelp has been shown to be an important detoxifier for radioactive isotopes and heavy metals.
Our four sea vegetables - Dulse, Kelp, Alaria, Nori - tested about 30% total fiber, about one half of which is soluble fiber and one half insoluble. For comparison, Dulse has about 33% total fiber, as much as oat bran. Of course, because you usually eat a larger serving size of oat bran than of sea veggies, you'll get more fiber per serving from the oat bran. But every time you eat sea veggies, you're getting high quality and very special fiber.
Sea Vegetables and Cancer
Sea vegetables have been used for centuries in Japanese and Chinese medicine for treatment of cancer. Recent scientific research has started to verify this traditional usage. For example, a study in 1995 demonstrated anti-tumor activity in kelp (Ascophyllum and Fucus species) against leukemia P-388. Certain compounds in kombu (Laminaria japonica) and wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) have been shown to have anti-mutagenic activity. Fucons (sulfated polysaccharides) extracted from brown sea veggies - the "kelps" - have been shown to inhibit cell growth, which means they may be able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells. In fact, a Japanese investigation duplicated a traditional Chinese medicinal formula using kelp (Laminaria species) and achieved reduction in size and number of tumors in laboratory experiments.
Currently very exciting work with cancer and sea veggies is being done by Dr. Jane Teas who is affiliated with the Interdisciplinary Programs and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health. In 1981 she published a paper on a number of well-documented reasons why the consumption of seaweed, particularly the kelps, might be a factor in the lower rate of breast cancer found in postmenopausal women in Japan. It has been noted that many sea vegetables contain significant amounts of lignans, more than legumes, whole grains, vegetables and fruits (but less than Peruvian Maca). These lignans become phytoestrogens in the body and bond preferentially to the estrogen receptor site. Thus they may have therapeutic and preventative value against cancers in which estrogen plays a part, such as breast cancer.
Dr. Teas is now conducting research on 25 postmenopausal women to see if alaria (and other brown seaweeds) supply enough phytoestrogens to provide an effective, natural alternative to estrogen replacement therapy.
Dr. Ryan Drum, Ph.D., states that fucoidan (a compound found in brown sea vegetables such as kelp and bladderwrack) "is … extremely anti-proliferative against cancer cells. It also interferes with every stage of viral attack: cell attachment, cell penetration, and intracellular virion production. " As an interesting indication of our deep biological connection to the sea vegetables, Dr. Ryan points out that "all human cells studied are found to have receptor sites for Fucose, the end-group sugar on fucoidan." (from his papers Sea Vegetables and Seaweeds, and Seaweed Therapeutics, PHWHS 2001).
Finally, Dr. Andrew Weil reports in his newsletter that "scientists at the National Cancer Institute are now investigating the anti-cancer properties of seaweeds." We look forward to hearing the results of these ongoing studies.
Sea Vegetables and Heart Disease
Traditional oriental medicine has long held that the use of seaweeds reduces the risk of heart disease. Recent research sited by Dr. Zakir Romazanov in Neutriceuticals World (vol.2, No. 6) claims that certain elements in bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosis) and rockweed (Ascophyllum nodosum) have the ability to lower blood plasma cholesterol levels, a key to heart health.
Dr. Seibin Arasaki in Vegetables from the Sea also identifies five different studies involving numerous seaweed species that have shown cholesterol-lowering activity.
Lowering blood pressure is another way of taking care of the heart. High levels of potassium in the blood have been proven to help reduce the risk of high blood pressure. All seaweeds offer extraordinary levels of potassium
Sea Vegetables and Hypertension
Back in the late 60's in England Dr. Eric Powell, Ph.D., N.D., successfully treated patients suffering from hypertension with Bladderwrack (Fucus sp), which he called kelp. He writes in his book Kelp, the Health Giver (distributed by NutriBooks), "Kelp has a normalizing action on the thyroid and parathyroid…Better function of the parathyroid glands means that the system can take up and utilize mineral matter to the best advantage: in particular calcium, iodine, and sodium which all play a part in maintaining the health and elasticity of the arterial walls."
Debra Ahern, Ph.D., R.N., reporting her findings in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Vol.89, No.7), sees it a little differently. It is well known to dietitians that people with low blood potassium levels are more prone to hypertension. Dr. Ahern maintained that seaweed-based seasonings provide not only high concentrations of potassium but also chloride, a means of retaining this potassium. In her study she says, "Chloride may play an indirect positive role in hypertension by allowing renal retention of potassium. If this is the case, potassium sources that provide chloride may be more effective in raising blood plasma levels than fruits and vegetables. The high chloride content of those seasonings with seaweed may make them good sources of potassium of clients at risk of hypokalemia (too little potassium)."
And finally, an article, "Blood Pressure and Nutrient Intake," from U.S. Science magazine states that higher intakes of calcium, potassium, and sodium are associated with lower mean systolic pressure and lower absolute risk of hypertension."
Sea Vegetables and Radioactive/Heavy Metal Detoxification
Sea vegetables' effectiveness in treating radiation and heavy metal poisoning is well documented and well known worldwide. The first studies on fighting radiation poisoning with seaweed were started 30 years ago at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. Researchers found that alginic acid, one of the important intercellular polysaccharides found in large brown algae like Kelp and Alaria, could reduce the amount of strontium 90 absorbed through the intestinal wall. (S.C. Skoryna et al, "Intestinal Absorption of Radioactive Strontium," Canadian Medical Association Journal 191, 1964)
Even the U.S. government has done research on the detoxifying qualities of alginates from Kelp. The EPA's Environmental Toxicology Lab found that alginates could bind and eliminate both radionucleides such as Strontium 90 and heavy metals such as cadmium. They also discovered that Strontium already stored in the bones was re-secreted and bound by the alginates and safely passed through the intestines. Thus the remarkable kelps can help alleviate past as well as present toxic contamination. (Steven Schacter, Fighting Radiation with Food, Herbs and Vitamins, East West Health Books, 1988)
Another very important function of sea vegetables in helping our bodies fight radiation poisoning takes place in the thyroid gland, where radioactive Iodine 131 (for example, from a nuclear power plant emission) can accumulate. Dr. Ryan Drum tells us "… we are regularly taking in radioactive isotopes from the total world contamination by continual radioactive fallout from all nuclear power plants, weapons facilities and past nuclear "tests."
If our thyroid is full with "healthy" iodine, it will not absorb the radioactive contaminant. So it serves us well to keep our thyroids full of natural, organic iodine. Sea vegetables are the best food source of iodine. Of the sea vegetables, Kelp is the most significant source.
Sea Vegetables as an Anti-inflammatory
Traditional uses of sea vegetables particularly in Asia have shown it to provide some therapeutic effect on the inflammatory response, particularly in tissue wounds. Ryan Drum, Ph.D., herbalist and seaweed specialist, asserts that fucoidan is the bio-active element in brown seaweed responsible for lessening the inflammatory response. Fucoidan is a water-soluble compound that can be easily extracted by boiling/simmering a quart of water with an ounce (about 1 ˝ cups) of dried brown sea vegetable for 20 to 40 minutes. Either pre-surgically or after tissue wounding has occurred Dr. Ryan recommends drinking this fucoidan extract daily for 1 to 2 weeks.
Sea Vegetables as an Anti-viral
Ryan Drum, Ph.D., herbalist and seaweed specialist, indicates several elements in sea veggies that make plausible their traditional use as antivirals. Fucoidan, a water soluble compound found in the brown algae, has been shown to interfere with every stage of viral attack: cell attachment, cell penetration, and viral intracellular penetration. He also notes that certain polysaccharides or glycoproteins from red seaweeds (dulse and laver are red seaweeds) have been successfully used in treating genital herpes and Herpes Zosters. He also notes in the seaweed literature that carrageenan derivatives have expressed strong antiviral activity.
Sea Vegetables and Joint Pain
Thalassotherapy in European spas and seaweed baths in the British Isles have been traditional methods of relieving muscle and joint pains. Victorian English flocked to the seaweed baths and immersed themselves in very hot water filled with Bladderwrack (Fucus species) or other highly mucilaginous seaweeds with high iodine content to ease their aches and pains. A number of these bathhouses still exist and more are being planned in Western Ireland, according to Ryan Drum, Ph.D. He also believes seaweed can help with knee joint deterioration. He treated a 50-year-old woman with such severe knee pain she was forced to walk with a cane. By soaking her knees daily for almost a year in 16" high rubber boots filled with a bladderwrack suspension (bladderwrack in hot water), he reported a complete recovery. Dr. Drum speculates that her success might be attributed to fucoidan (see above) and the biomolecular iodine compounds that were passing transdermally into her legs.
Sea Vegetables and the Thyroid
Most seaweeds are a good source of Iodine 127, the biomolecular compound the thyroid gland needs for proper functioning. Ryan Drum, Ph.D., points out that bladderwrack (Fucus species) provides di-iodotyrosine (DIT) which is a precursor to forming the essential thyroid hormones Thyroxine (T4) and Tri-iodothyronine (T3). He claims that in providing the immediate precursors for T4 and T3 Fucus seems particularly effective in treating both hypothyroidism and Graves hyperthyroidism.
Another important reason to get plenty of sea vegetables' Iodine 127 into the thyroid is to prevent uptake of radioactive and toxic Iodine 131, which in modern times has a background presence in our food and air supply, and which is likely to be a major pollutant of a nuclear accident. By "loading" the thyroid with healthy Iodine, we can maintain our health even if fallout levels increase dramatically. On a cautionary note, Dr. Drum advises that those people who are iodine sensitive should avoid the northern deep-water kelps that have exceptionally large amounts of iodine. Sea vegetables such as Dulse, Laver, Nori, and Bladderwrack that have lower concentrations of iodine may provide a good alternative.
Naturally occurring Iodine in seaweeds known as Kelp and Digitata prevent the Uranium Oxide molecule from attaching and invading human, animal and plant cells. A Japanese medical doctor in Nagasaki during World War II ordered all his staff and patients in his hospital to increase and eat copious amounts seaweeds and brown rice after the bomb exploded. The hospital was in the most intense radiation area but none of his staff or patients became ill as others had skin falling off or later died of horrific cancers.
The future of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was also bleak after their skies werepurple but the direst predictions did not come to pass. Japan is a county that lives on seaweeds and brown rice but the sewer system is mostly outhouses and septic tanks. The Iodine from the human expelled seaweeds and brown rice seeped into the ground throughout the region therefore both cities rebounded fantastically and today the Uranium Oxide poison is only a dark historic event rather than a continuing and present day horror.
America is not a seaweed based society like Japan in the 1940s, but, unlike the poor indigenous and war torn population of Iraq, Americans and Canadians have access to and can immediately consume the proper amounts of Iodine in natural sources. If you love and are concerned about your, family, friends, community and county then spread the word that everyone needs significant amounts of natural sources of Iodine in there diet - immediately.
There is also Iodine Patches one can make from bottled Iodine that can be applied to the body but they are not a natural source of Iodine present in Kelp and Digitata seaweeds. The bottled Iodine is way too powerful for the body to absorb properly.
Kelp contains Iodine 127. Iodine 127 will prevent the body from absorbing radioactive iodine 131 which is constantly being released into our atmosphere by so-called normal operations of nuclear power plants and weapons facilities. This is specific protection for the thyroid gland, and you need to be aware that most nuclear pathologies in a disaster like Chernobyl are related to the intake of radioactive Iodine 131 into the thyroid gland. Eat kelp as part of your daily diet.
Kelp contains sodium alginate which is capable of binding with ingested particles of toxic strontium 90, cesium 137, and various heavy metals in the digestive tract, thus aiding the body in excreting radioactive fallout. After Chernobyl, the Russians isolated the polysaccharide U-Fucoidan in kelp, an excellent absorber of radioactive elements.
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