Seaweed (aka algae) is an underrated superfood. Red seaweed (aka dulse) is a particularly beneficial variety for gut health. Dulse is high in fiber and contains a wealth of minerals, including magnesium, potassium, zinc, and iodine. All of these nutrients are essential for gut health. Dulse also helps to support the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
Seaweed has been popular in Asian and Pacific cuisines for centuries and is gaining popularity as a staple of anti-inflammatory diets like Paleo and Whole30. Because seaweed tastes so good, we tend to forget how much It’s high in magnesium, folate, iodine, zinc, and a variety of other health-boosting vitamins and minerals, to start.
But seaweed oh seaweed is also a source of prebiotics, foods that feed the good bacteria in our guts. Prebiotics are especially important for people eating lots of processed foods and which can cause disruptions to gut flora. Prebiotics help you get the most out of your probiotic supplements by increasing their ability to survive your stomach acids and work inside your digestive tract so they can keep doing what we need them to do: support digestion, nutrient absorption, immunity, and regularity while warding off obesity and disease-causing inflammation.
Seaweeds like kelp or seaweed salad (aka nori or laver) contain high levels of soluble fiber (also known as prebiotic fiber), which has been found in many studies to be an excellent food for feeding gut bacteria, including Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus. seaweed is also high in polysaccharides (fiber) which have been found to improve immune response during colds, flu, and other infections.
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Red Seaweed Benefits
Red seaweed is a seaweed that has more antioxidant properties, which are linked to helping prevent heart disease and cancers. These benefits include bioflavonoids, tannins, polysaccharides, pigments called carotenoids (which help with eye health), and phycocyanins. In seaweed, these antioxidants are not in a supplement form but naturally occurring phytonutrients.
Red seaweed is often used in Asian foods and has more of a crunchy texture compared to some other seaweeds. Some options for buying red seaweed include hijiki, arame, wakame, and dulse seaweeds.
Seaweed oh seaweed is packed with minerals like magnesium that help keep our digestive system regular while increasing healthy bowel motility. Magnesium is a natural muscle relaxant that can ease bloating while counteracting cramps and spasms in the gut wall. Magnesium also reduces fatigue and stress, as well as the frequency of migraines. On average seaweed contains more calcium than milk.
In general, seaweed is a natural anti-inflammatory food that’s been shown to reduce stomach inflammation to relieve ulcers and heartburn by reducing acid release in the stomach. Most seaweeds are between 10% – 25% protein with red seaweeds having the highest levels of protein plus a perfect 3:1 ratio of Omega 3 fats (DHA & EPA) to Omega 6’s which studies have found for reducing inflammation to prevent arthritis, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, etc.
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Seaweeds can be purchased fresh or dried at most supermarkets nowadays – you’ll typically find them in the produce or international section. They can be eaten as is, added to soups and stews, or used in seaweed wraps.
Here’s the seaweed you should consider buying regularly:
- Dried seaweed – soak seaweed in warm water for 10 minutes before enjoying it
- Nori seaweeds – seaweed sheets used for sushi rolls
- Kelp seaweeds – a type of seaweed that is high in iodine
- Wakame seaweeds – often used in miso soup
- Arame seaweeds – has a sweet, nutty flavor and is often added to salads
- Hijiki seaweeds – a seaweed with a strong flavor and is often used in Japanese dishes
- Dulse seaweeds – has a salty, fishy taste and is often used as a condiment
Red seaweed has many benefits for gut health. It is high in soluble fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in our guts, and polysaccharides, which help strengthen our immune system. It also has antioxidants, which help prevent heart disease and cancers. Overall, seaweed is very beneficial for our health.