Have you ever thought about that delicious green vegetable matter, floating in your miso soup, when you are dining at your favorite Asian cuisine restaurant? You should! That seemingly benign, lightly salty plant matter is a nutrient-dense Sea vegetable, called Wakami, one of several types of seaweed. Another popular type of seaweed found wrapped around your sushi is Nori. And don’t think it’s just holding your California roll together.
Nori is among the most nutritious of seaweeds. Sea Vegetables are delicious and rich in vitamins K, B, Zinc, and Iron, as well as trace minerals and Vanadium, used for treating diabetes. They are also a great source of Iodine, essential for healthy thyroid function and hormone balance.
Kelp, used in making toothpaste, salad dressings, puddings, and cakes, is even high at helping remove heavy metals. In contrast, Bladderwrack, used medicinally, assists in lowering inflammation, arteriosclerosis, constipation, and many other maladies in the body. Why they are little “Phyto” superheroes!
Alternately, while munching on your favorite stir fry, have you ever considered the origin of that crunchy, deliciously sweet Water Chestnut? The ocean isn’t the only body of water that boasts plants with nutrition comparable to vegetables grown on the land.
Freshwater has its varieties of plants. Watercress, Wild Rice, Water Chestnuts, and Lotus are only a few examples of the array of delicious freshwater vegetables. We also get Spirulina from freshwater, and Chlorella from, surprisingly, both fresh and seawater. Both of these blue-green algae are loaded with protein (50-60%), help to improve blood sugar, blood pressure, and blood lipids as well as a source of vitamin B12 and omega 3 fatty acids.
There are many ways to eat seaweed and freshwater vegetables. Some people sprinkle either kelp or Dulse flakes on their meals for a savory salt alternative and to assist their digestion. Watercress soup is not only delicious, but it’s also loaded with antioxidants and vitamin K, among other amazing health benefits.
Did you know that Sea Lettuce and Irish Moss are used in making ice cream and plant milk? Kombu offers a sweet flavor to both brown and wild rice when added to the cooking pot. Hijiki and Arame can be thrown together with some Nori and Wakami for a unique and tasty seaweed salad. A good Lotus Root stir fry will knock your socks off! The ideas are seemingly endless!
Many different types of seaweeds and freshwater vegetables can be found as close as your nearest grocery or health food store. Asian food stores will most likely boast the largest (and often more rare and unique) assortments of seaweed.
If you prefer organic water vegetables instead of the “offshore’ variety, you can purchase from organically grown, land-based “Aquaculture farms.” These farms have carefully controlled and maintained tanks of fresh and saltwater for their water gardens. You can find them online and/or, perhaps, even in your area.
However, you decide to try these incredible “Gems from the water,” you will definitely benefit from water plants’ unique textures, refreshing flavors, and incredible nutrition.
A caution to people taking blood thinners, and to kidney patients – the vitamin K in seaweeds may interfere with blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, and the potassium levels in some seaweeds may cause trouble in individuals with compromised kidney function.
In these cases, it is always best to check with your doctor. If you haven’t tried fresh or saltwater vegetables, what are you waiting for! They will make a real “splash” in your diet.
About the Author
Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Certified Massage Therapist
- Owner at A New Leaf Holistic Health Coaching
- Owner at Erin Colvin CMT
- Integrative Nutrition Health Coach- Institute for Integrative Nutrition graduate
- Certified in Plant-Based Nutrition- T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies, Cornell University
- Certified Massage Therapist- Graduate from Healing Arts Institute
- Reiki Master
Erin Colvin is the owner of A New Leaf Holistic Health Coaching. She is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Erin holds additional certification in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutritional Studies at Cornell University.
Erin is also a certified Massage Therapist and Reiki Master, maintaining a thriving combined business. Being a stage 2 cancer survivor herself, Erin knows the absolute importance of a healthy diet and lifestyle. She is passionate to help others heal themselves.
By helping her clients uncover patterns that no longer serve their greater good, as well as applying her expertise in plant-based nutrition, Erin transforms lives. Erin also offers relaxation and stress relief to her clients through Integrated Therapeutic Massage and Reiki.