Seven Exotic Foods From The Sea Which Boost Your Immune System

seagrass-shoal-grass-undersea-north-carolina_noaa_9801) ARAME

Arame seaweed is a brownish-black and stringy looking plant used in traditional Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Indonesian cooking. Subspecies of arame are also found along the coast of Alaska and California. Arame is high in calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium, and vitamin A as well as being a dietary source of many other minerals. It also is harvested for alginate, fertilizer and iodide. It contains the storage polysaccharide laminarin and the tripeptide eisenin, a peptide with immunological activity. Few may be aware of the detoxifying benefits of this seaweed which contains abundant amount of chlorophyll, which binds to and neutralizes toxins before flushing them out of your body.


Kelp grows in underwater forests in shallow oceans that have been present on the Earth for over 20 million years. It is is a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E, as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and calcium. In fact it contains the highest natural concentration of calcium of any food – 10 times more than milk. As sea kelp is the richest natural source of iodine it can help to regulate metabolism and in turn affect weight loss and gain. Kelp is used in many cultures both as medicine and food. For medicinal purposes, it can be found in both pill and capsule forms, as a concentrated liquid, and included in other products.


Hijiki is often considered one of the most versatile impressive forms of seaweed, as it dries quickly and maintains the majority of its nutrient content. Hijiki, like many sea vegetables, contains a wide range of essential minerals for the body, as well as significant levels of dietary fiber, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, and iodine. The iron content of hijiki is unprecedentedly high for a vegetable; some varieties that have been tested have up to 5 times more iron than chicken liver, which is considered one of the most concentrated source for that essential mineral. It prevents anemia, improves bone health, boosts energy levels and maintains hormonal balance.


Not only is Kombu delicious on its own, but it is different from other seaweed in that it produces Dashi, widely used as a base seasoning. No other seaweed has that gift. Kombu has an almost magical ability to render beans more digestible and less gas-producing. But it isn’t magic: Kombu contains enzymes that help break down the raffinose sugars in beans, which are the gas-producing culprits. Once they are broken down, we are able to absorb more of the nutrients, and we can enjoy these legumes without as many intestinal complaints. Kombu has the highest iodine content among seaweeds consumed in Japan. Iodine is an essential nutrient vital to hormone production and normal thyroid function.


Nori has been found to contain sufficient vitamin B12 to prevent vitamin B12 deficiency. More importantly, it contains a significant amount of bioactive vitamin B12. It is one of the plant world’s richest sources of protein and comparable in density to spirulina and chlorella. A study published in the May 2010 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found that the regular consumption of nori was linked to lowered rates of breast cancer for menopausal and pre-menopausal women.


Studies conducted at Hokkaido University have found that a compound in wakame known as fucoxanthin can help burn fatty tissue. Wakame is a rich source of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid. At over 400 mg/100 kcal or almost 1 mg/kJ, it has one of the higher nutrient:calorie ratios for this nutrient, and among the very highest for a vegetarian source. In medicine it has been used for blood purification, intestinal strength, skin, hair, reproductive organs and menstrual regularity.


Also called dillisk or dilsk, red dulse, sea lettuce flakes, or creathnach, it is a red algae which provides a wealth of fiber and protein, and it’s also rich in vitamins, trace minerals, healthy fatty acids, and antioxidants. Wild dulse has long been a staple of diets in parts of northern Europe like Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Overall, dulse is notable for its high mineral and protein content, particularly iron and potassium. At its highest levels of concentration Dulse has 34 times as much potassium as a banana. Dulse has an unusually high concentration of different minerals. Minerals with the highest concentrations are copper, zinc, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. A study published in the Journal of Food Chemistry and Toxicology found that Dulse had the highest polyphenol content and the strongest inhibitory effects on cell proliferation in a group of red and green seaweeds.

By Karen Foster

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