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The Healing Power of Sea Vegetables

When the Beatles sang about an “Octopus’s Garden” in the 1960’s they almost certainly were not exalting the virtues of seaweed, or sea vegetables as they a commonly known by those who harvest and consume them today. But given what we have since found out about these valuable plants, they probably should have been.

Eaten regularly, sea vegetables can be a valuable source of essential vitamins and minerals. In addition, they contain a variety of protective compounds that may help ward off some serious health threats, such as cancer.

A Traditional Cancer Fighter

For hundreds if not thousands of years, sea vegetables have been used in Asian Cultures to prevent the treat cancer. As if often the case, research no indicates that there is more than a little scientific evidence supporting these ancient healing methods.

Japanese researchers study the effects of extracts from eight different kinds of sea vegetables on cells that had been treated with protein cancer-causing agents. The results showed that sea vegetables m ay have tumour-squelching power.

Though scientists are unsure which compounds in sea vegetables are responsible, they suspect it may be Beta-carotene, the same antioxidant compound found in such things as carrots and sweet potatoes. The sea vegetable called “nori” (also known as laver), which comes in dried sheets, is a good source of beta-carotene.

Researchers suspect that sea vegetables may have cancer fighting compounds that are simply not found in their land-loving counterparts. For example a compound called sodium alginate, which is found in high concentration in sea vegetables, could have cancer fighting abilities, but the research is not conclusive and needs to be more fully explored.

Kelp for Heart and Blood

If you want your blood to be just as healthy as the sea itself, a dose of vegetables from its waters can help.

Kelp and Nori contains “folate”, a nutrient that helps break down protein in the body and aids in the regeneration of red blood cells. Kelp also contains magnesium, a mineral that has been found to keep high blood pressure in check, especially amongst people who are sensitive to sodium. Nori also contains 1,500 international units of vitamin A. Studies show that vitamin A not only builds immunity but is also a safeguard against night blindness and vision problems associated with ageing, like macular degeneration. In additional vitamin A can protect against several kinds of cancer.

In the Kitchen

Alaria – AKA wakame, this is the seaweed traditionally used in Miso Soup. When using for pasta or salads, simply soften it in water for 2-3 minutes and cut into slivers.

Dulse – dried has a deep red, wrinkled leaves, which can be eaten straight from the packet. It can be a little salty so you may want to rinse first. Like nori add it to soups, stews and pasta dishes.

Kelp – Sold in wide, dried dark green sheets is often added to soups and stews as a salt replacement. Roasted Kelp makes a great garnish,

Nori – AKA Laver, nori is sold in paper thin, green dried sheets. It has a mild briny flavour and is generally used to wrap around sushi. You can also float in soups or accentuate salads and pasta. Either use scissors to cut into desired strips or tear by hand.

Kelp and Potato Chowder


1 tbls Canola Oil

1 large brown onion

7 cups water

4 medium potatoes – peeled and finely diced

1 cup finely crumbled dried kelp

Dash of salt

Dash of ground Black Pepper

1/4 cup Greek Yoghurt


Heat oil in large pot with a lid

Add the onions, cook till transparent stirring frequently – 8 minutes

Add the water

Add the potatoes, kelp and salt

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to very low and place lid on pot

Cook until potatoes are tender – about ½ an hour

Put though a blender, food processor or use a stick blender to smooth

Serve with a swirl of Greek Yoghurt and a sprinkle of black pepper

...and remember...have a fabulous retirementLIFE....

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