Saturday, 7 November 2015

Get slimmer, eat seaweed

The Japanese may be on to something. Not only is seaweed full of vitamins and minerals, but it could promote weight loss.

Seaweed has been used in Asian dishes for centuries but is now fast gaining recognition for weight-loss benefits. High in vitamins A and C, seaweed contains plenty of protein and is one of the few non-animal sources of B12, making it an excellent food for vegetarians. Wakame is a type of brown seaweed often used to flavour traditional dishes such as soups and salads.
Japanese chemists have found that the brownish pigment in wakame, fucoxanthin, promotes weight loss. The 2006 study conducted at Hokkaido University in Japan saw obese rats lose five to 10 per cent of their body weight when fucoxanthin was added to their regular food. Fucoxanthin works by stimulating the production of a protein that increases the burning of fat. It was also found to reduce LDL cholesterol (or bad cholesterol) and improve triglyceride levels (which affect metabolism).
Study professor, Dr Kazuo Miyashita, says that if it is effective in humans, fucoxanthin could be developed into new types of medication to combat obesity. More work may be needed to determine how effective seaweed can be as a slimming aid in humans, but that hasn't stopped the celebrities from giving it a go. Even Victoria Beckham has tried a posh mix of seaweed and algae in an effort to keep the weight off. Foods For Life nutrition consultant Yvonne Bishop-Weston says Beckham's eating regime isn't as crazy as it sounds.

"Algae and seaweed are superfoods, with many of the vital nutrients our bodies need," Bishop-Weston says. "Algae such as chlorella aid detoxification, help reduce water retention and break down fat deposits." Bishop-Weston warns that there is no magic weight-loss pill. "Victoria used algae and seaweed shakes as part of a personalised nutrition strategy," she says. "We are all different and there is no perfect one-size-fits-all weight-loss program."

More than just a slimming aid

Seaweed is also an excellent skin treatment, showing promise in the treatment of conditions such as acne, Bishop-Weston says. Demographic studies have also shown that people who regularly eat seaweed have fewer problems associated with mineral depletion, and generally live longer. Seaweed has been found to help prevent cancer and heart disease, lower blood pressure and even prevent ulcers and kill bacteria. It has been shown to cleanse the body of pollutants and improve hair condition. It has been said that the thick, black, lustrous hair of the Japanese is partly due to their regular diet of brown sea vegetables. The Japanese certainly take seaweed eating seriously, downing as much as four kilograms of the plant per person per year. Japanese women who eat a diet high in kelp have reported lower rates of breast cancers.

Snacking on seaweed

Sports dietitian Emilie Isles says the easiest way to work seaweed into your diet is to tuck into some sushi. "When eaten in appropriate portions, sushi can provide an excellent source of carbohydrate and protein, and often includes some vegetables, making it low in fat," Isles says. "In the right amounts, sushi is an appropriate everyday option, although you need to watch out for varieties that contain fried meats and creamy mayonnaise because of their saturated fat content.

The other thing to be mindful of is portion size, as sushi can be very easy to over-consume." Isles says seaweed alone won't strip off the kilos. "Seaweed is most likely to promote weight loss when incorporated as part of a balanced diet, which includes adequate fresh fruit and veggies, as well as regular activity." Many health shops and oriental grocery stores sell seaweed in various forms. In dried form, it can be used as part of a raw vegetable salad or crumbled and sprinkled over a salad as a naturally tangy seasoning.

Mineral elements

Trace mineral elements found in the ocean that are needed by the body are found in seaweed; these are items you might not get in your normal diet, even with vitamin supplements. And unlike fish, few toxins are absorbed by ocean vegetables.

Mix it up with different types of seaweed

Konbu: This is very dark green with a more rubbery texture. It is most commonly used to make dashi stock. It has something of an acquired taste, rather like Marmite or licorice.

Nori: This is the most palatable seaweed as it has a mild taste. It comes in sheets and is the main seaweed used to wrap sushi rolls.
Wakame: Deep green in colour, wakame is a thin, stringy seaweed often eaten in miso soup or pickled with vegetables.
Hijiki: This black seaweed is normally sold dried, and contains high levels of calcium, fibre and iron.

Comment below if you found this article helpful or informative. Would you incorporate more seaweed into your diet to lose those extra kilos? Let me know :)


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