Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables
Coastal peoples all over the world have prized sea vegetables (often referred to as "sea vegetables") as a source of valuable nutrients, primarily minerals,
for millennia. Here in northern California, the inland native peoples used to trade their most precious possessions
for a bag of dried sea vegetables laboriously carried on someone's back from the coast.
Knowledge of the tonic and healing powers of sea vegetables was passed
down among coastal peoples from generation to generation. Much of their
knowledge is in the process of being confirmed by modern scientific analysis.
And demographic studies have shown that people who regularly incorporate edible
sea vegetabless into their diets have fewer problems from mineral depletion and live
longer than other peoples.1
Sea vegetables contain 10 to 20 times the vitamins and minerals of land vegetables.
Gram for gram, they are higher in vitamins and minerals than any other class of
food.2 The minerals are available in chelated, colloidal forms that
make them especially available to the bodies of humans and animals, a concept
known as "bioavailability." All sea vegetables contain significant amounts of
protein, sometimes as much as 48%. Sea plants are also a rich sources of both
soluble and insoluble dietary fiber.3 The large brown sea vegetabless known
as the "kelps" (including
wakame and kombu (see Nutritional analysis) contain alginic acid.
Studies have shown that alginic acid removes heavy metals and radioactive
isotopes from the digestive tract, as well as strontium 90 from the
Sea vegetables have traditionally been used in Asia to treat
heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and thyroid problems. Modern researchers
are trying to understand the physiological mechanisms by which sea vegetables can be
used to successfully treat these diseases, with some promising results. One
especially exciting theory proposes that consumption of Laminaria (kombu)
explains the low breast cancer rate in post-menopausal Japanese
women.5 Much more will be learned in future years as the study of
these wondrous plants from the sea continues.
contain vitamins A, B, C, and E.6 Moreover, many sea vegetabless contain
what appears to be vitamin B-12, a vitamin normally found only in animal
products. Avoiding B-12 deficiency has traditionally posed a problem for people
on raw foods, vegan, macrobiotic, and vegetarian diets, but sea vegetables just might
solve the problem. The source of the B-12 in sea vegetables remains a mystery (is it
made by bacteria living on the surface or in the water?), and researchers wonder
if it is not really B-12 but an "analogue" of something that resembles B-12 but
cannot be utilized by the human body.7 Dr. Gabriel Cousens is quite
convinced that the B-12 in sea vegetables is bio-available,8 and the
experience of some long-term vegan/vegetarians seems to confirm that
content of sea vegetables is extraordinary, and is probably at the root of most
of their healing properties. Several of the theories put forth to explain the
ability of sea vegetables to reduce heart disease and hypertension are based in the
high mineral content of sea vegetables, particularly potassium, calcium, sodium, and
chloride. In the words of Shep Erhart, author of Sea Vegetable Celebration,
"Every second of every day your body depends on minerals to generate billions of
tiny electric impulses throughout your nervous system. Your heart would stop,
your muscles would freeze, and your brain would black out if these minerals were
not available in just the right amounts and the right form. The minerals in
sea vegetabless are in colloidal form, meaning they retain their molecular identity
while remaining in liquid suspension. Colloids are very small in size and are
easily absorbed by the body's cells. Plants convert metallic minerals, which can
be toxic, into colloids with a natural, negative electric charge. Negatively
charged minerals have been shown to increase the transport and bioavailability
of other foods and supplements."10
"Minerals that are attached to other substances such as
amino acids are also more bioavailable. These are call chelated (key-lated)
minerals, from the Greek word for claw. Sea vegetabless provide all of the 56 minerals
and trace minerals required for your body's physiological functions in chelated,
colloidal forms. Most enzymatic functions depend on minute amounts of
bioavailable trace minerals. The major minerals are instrumental in all kinds of
life-sustaining activities in your body: magnesium is crucial in calcium
absorption, iodine in thyroid function, iron in blood oxygen exchange, and
chromium in blood sugar regulation. All of these functions are facilitated by
the presence of chelated, colloidal minerals."11 Erhart
The minerals in sea vegetables are more important to humans and
animals today than ever. The 1997 edition of Food Composition Handbook shows a
25-50% decline in the vitamin and mineral content of foods since the last survey
done in 1975. "This decline suggests a steady deterioration in soil, air, and
water quality, as well as reduced seed vitality, that is depleting minerals and
other inorganic compounds from our food."12
Minerals in Relation to Tofu, Beans, and
Tofu, beans, and grains contain a substance called phytic acid
which blocks the absorption of minerals. With beans and grains you can mitigate
this problem by soaking them for 18 hours before cooking. The soaking activates
the seed embryo, which neutralizes the phytic acid. Alternatively, you can add
sea vegetables to your pot of grain or beans, which makes more minerals available and
ensures that some will be absorbed.
In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
point out that Americans are using tofu very differently than it is used in
Asia. In Asia small quantities of tofu are usually served in a fish-based broth
with sea vegetables. The sea vegetables and the fish provide additional minerals that balance
the mineral-leaching effect of the phytic acid in the tofu. But Americans,
having identified tofu as a vegetable source of protein, have isolated it from
its culinary tradition and consume huge quantities of it the way we would
consume steak or hamburgers. Hundreds of substitute meat products consist mainly
of texturized soy protein, and many people simply dip a slab of tofu in tamari
and yeast and fry it. We would be wise to eat in harmony with Asian traditions
and use tofu in smaller quantities and in combination with fish and/or
1 Erhart, Shep and Cerier, Leslie, Sea Vegetable Celebration, Book Publishing
Company, Summertown, TN, 2001, p. 22.
2 Cousens, Gabriel, Conscious Eating,
Essene Vision Books, Patagonia, AZ, 1992,
3 Erhart and Cerier,
4 Erhart and Cerier, 30.
5 Erhart and Cerier, 29.
7 Erhart and Cerier, 24-25.
8 Cousens, 484.
9 Erhart and Cerier,
10 Erhart and Cerier, 27-28.
11 Erhart and Cerier, 21-22.
Alex, Let Food Be Thy Medicine, One Peaceful World Newsletter, 1999,
quoted in Erhart and Cerier, Sea Vegetable Celebration,
Sea Vegetable Products:
Radiation Testing of Sea Vegetables
Atlantic whole leaf Dulse - (Rhodomenia palmata) Organic, Sustainably wildcrafted *** This dulse from the northern Atlantic is high in protein, iron, B-12, chlorophyll, enzymes, and fiber. Great raw, right out of the bag. Snip pieces and add to salads, eggs, or grains. Make an Almond-Waldorf Salad (recipe on package). Fry it for a vegetarian DLT sandwich! - $5.10, 1 oz; $52.95, 1 lb package
**Dulse Flakes - Organic, Sustainably wildcrafted - This dulse is high in protein, iron, B-12, chlorophyll, enzymes, and fiber. Great raw. Snip with scissors and add to salads, eggs, or grains. Wildcrafted, Raw! - $48.95, 1 lb package
**Fucus Vesiculosis, Whole leaf / Bladderwrack (Kelp*) - Sustainably wildcrafted *** High in fucoidans, potassium, sodium and iodine, Bladderwrack has been traditionally used to enhance the body's immune system, inhibit tumor cells, suppress allergic inflammation and strengthen body tissues. Great in cooking or soaked for salads. Wildcrafted, Raw. - $52.95, 1 lb package
Hijiki - (Imported from Japan - Hizikia fusiformis) Extremely high in calcium, hijiki has a crisp texture and mild nutty flavor. Soak it until soft (10 minutes), and sauté, simmer, or steam. Eat it as is, with dressing of choice, add to salads or soups, or use as a garnish. - $12.99, 1 oz package
**California Kombu (Kelp*) - (Laminaria digitata) Sustainably wildcrafted *** Our special drying techniques make this kombu dark, flavorful, and nutrient-rich. Studies show that alginic acids in kombu remove heavy metals and radiation from the GI tract. (Since mercury is a heavy metal, we mix kombu "juice" in with tuna fish, and try to eat kombu or kombu juice with salmon). Kombu contains powerful amounts of potassium, magnesium, iodine, fucoidan, and B vitamins. Add to grains, beans, or soups. - $24.95, Granules, 1 lb package; $24.95, Powder, 1 lb package
California whole leaf Nori - (Porphyra perforata) Sustainably wildcrafted ** Clean and flavorful, this wild-crafted spring nori comes to you in its natural crinkly splendor rather than in heat processed sushi sheets. Rich in protein, chlorophyll, vitamins A, C, E, and B. Toast & crumble it on salads or pasta, mix into dips, soak in tempura batter and lightly fry, or eat it as is. Great for a raw-foods diet. - $3.89, 1/2 oz package; $55.95, 1 lb package
**Raw Nori Sushi Sheets - approximately 7.5 x 8.5 inches (Imported from China) Organic *** For a raw-foods treat, wrap this sushi nori around avocado, sashimi (raw fish), and cucumber. Or spread cooked rice on a sheet along with steamed veggies (cut into strips), grilled chicken or salmon, avocado, shrimp, tofu or other favorites. - $4.49, 10 sheets; $15.99, 50 sheets
Toasted Nori Sushi Sheets - approximately 7.5 x 8.5 inches (Imported from China) Organic - From a village co-op with good human rights and environmental practices, these delicious toasted sheets make a wonderful snack or travel food as is. They can also be used to wrap rice, avocado, and salmon for sushi rolls. Cut them into strips for a shiny, elegant, and tasty garnish on almost any dish. - $4.49, 10 sheets; $15.99, 50 sheets
**California Wakame (Kelp*) - (Alaria marginata) Sustainably wildcrafted *** A rich source of fucoidan, Wakame is also high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamins A, B, and C. Try simmering it, then marinating with ginger, soy sauce, and rice syrup. Add to soups, or soak for salads or stir-fries. Toast and sprinkle. - $4.90, .75 oz package; $61.95, 1 lb package;
**California Sea Palm (Kelp*) - (Postelsia palmaeformis) Sustainably wildcrafted ** A northern California treasure, noodle-like sea palm becomes a favorite of anyone who tries it. Enjoy its mild flavor. For a gourmet treat, cover ¼ oz sea palm with water, simmer for 5 minutes. Allow to cool. Peel sections of 1 grapefruit and toss with slices of 2 avocados. Add sea palm whole or in pieces. Sprinkle liberally with sea salt or table salt. Exotic! - $4.90, .75 oz package; $55.95, 1 lb package
Chewnami/Kombu Nibbles; 100% organic and wildcrafted: Ginger or Maple, 3 oz, $4.10; Ginger or Maple, 1 lb, $19.95
Chewnami/Kombu Bars; 100% organic and wildcrafted: Crunchy, sweet but not too sweet energy bars. Amazingly good for you! Ideal for traveling, backpacking, kid and adult lunches, gifts, potlucks. These bars are compact, unsquishable, and they will keep you going! Try them with almond butter! They are high in protein, omega 3's, and minerals. Kelp crunch bars come in two flavors: Ginger or Maple, 2 lb, unlabeled bars, $51.95; Ginger or Maple, Box of 30, unlabeled, $57.95
Sea Crunchies, toasted sea palm, with Almonds: - Sustainably wildcrafted - An awesome trail mix consisting of plenty of toasted organic almonds mixed with crumbled, toasted sea palm fronds. A rich, nutty-salty taste sensation. Another great travel or backpacking food, or one-of-a-kind gift. A superb snack rich in protein, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids. - 2 oz, $5.49; 1 lb, $52.95; 4 lb bulk package, $98.95
Sea Crunchies, toasted sea palm: - $5.25, 1 oz; $55.95, 1 lb package
Sea Lettuce, Whole Leaf (Ulva lactuca) - Organic, Sustainably wildcrafted - This bright green sea vegetable is the most tender of all our seaweeds, and possibly the most flavorful. Eat as is, or add to salads, pastas, salad dressings, or rice. - $44.95, 1 lb package
Sea Weed Snack - Original; USDA Organic Seaweed Snacks (Original Flavor) are simply great tasting Nori shaped into convenient, individually wrapped strips. Larger bag reseals, allowing you to tear off a few strips at-a-time for your backpack, purse, or lunch box, .53 oz, $3.99
Sea Weed Snack - Spicy; Seaweed Snack, Spicy, China
USDA Organic Seaweed Snacks (Spicy Flavor) are simply great tasting Nori shaped into convenient, individually wrapped strips. Larger bag reseals, allowing you to tear off a few strips at-a-time for your backpack, purse, or lunch box. .53 oz, $3.99
*This is one of the large brown seaweeds classified as kelp. **Indicates items are raw seaweed sun dried at low heat.
PLEASE NOTE: Orders are shipped UPS, so a street address is necessary and these orders ship within 24 hours. NO P.O. Boxes can be shipped to!