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Seaweed is naturally low in calories, fat free, and high in fiber, so including it as part of your diet can help to meet daily requirements of fiber without adding unwanted calories and fat, says Heather Mangieri, R.D., C.S.S.D.
|Sea Vegetables-Nori Info
“Sea vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for peak exercise performance,” she says. “They’re also a good source of iron, a nutrient that, if deficient, can cause problems for athletes. Low iron levels can negatively impact exercise performance by increasing time to fatigue and increasing the chance of injury.” Another essential mineral for hard-training athletes is iodine, which is a key element of seaweed. “While the body needs only a small amount of iodine, that amount is critical,” Mangieri says. “Iodine is a part of thyroxine, the hormone made by the thyroid gland that is responsible for regulating our basal metabolic rate.”
Seaweed may also help keep you from packing on extra pounds in your midsection, as recent studies have shown that alginate, found in brown algae, can increase feelings of satiety and reduce caloric intake. One 2008 study published in the journal Appetite showed a 135-calorie reduction in the diets of subjects who ate a daily dose of alginate extract.
“Sea vegetables are a nutrient-dense food that add more variety to your meals,” Mangieri says. “However, because sea vegetables are high in sodium and iodine, you’ll want to eat in moderation.” There is also some concern about high levels of heavy metals like arsenic in some types of seaweed, so make sure you purchase products that are labeled organic.
Seaweed is classified by color—red, brown, or green. Some common names you will find at your local Asian store or specialty grocer include nori, hijiki, arame, kombu, and dulse, and these varieties will be sold as sheets, flakes, or powder. Sea veggies do not need to be cooked and can simply be added to soups, salads, and stir-frys.