One Food Every Dieter Should Eat
Every dieter has foods on his or her list that are a must, and the foods typically are on the list because they are associated with the “theme” of the diet, such as vegetarian/vegan, paleo, low-carb, high-protein, low-fat, and so on. I don’t want to put this one food into a category (although it could definitely fit into the first choice and several others) because it’s in a category of its own: seaweed.
Perhaps you have read about how a certain type of brown seaweed or kelp (e.g., wakame) has components that can contribute to weight loss. One of those components is fucoxanthin and another is alginate. Some green seaweeds also have been identified as having an ingredient called siphonaxanthin, which has demonstrated an ability to fight fat in cells and in obese diabetic mice.
Although study results concerning these seaweed components suggest that one or more of them can help you shed pounds, they also indicate that a seaweed supplement would be necessary in order to get enough of the desired component for weight loss. Yet I am suggesting that while taking a seaweed supplement may help you with your weight loss efforts, the seaweed itself is one food every dieter should eat.
Why seaweed is a great diet food
Seaweed is a great diet food for several reasons:
- It is super low in calories. A standard sheet of nori (a red seaweed used to make sushi and other roll-up foods) is only 10 calories! One hundred grams (3.5 oz) of raw wakame (which is a common seaweed used in salads; see recipe below) contains only 45 calories.
- Dried seaweed has a long shelf life. Keep dried seaweed in your pantry for a quick, nutritious snack or when you don’t feel like spending more than a few minutes preparing a meal. That’s when you can whip up a seaweed salad, use a nori sheet as a burrito wrap, or toss some seaweed into hot broth or miso soup.
- It’s a low-calorie wrap. Use sheets of seaweed as a low-calorie wrap for steamed veggies and other fillers. Occasionally, substitute nori for breads, pitas, and tortillas and save yourself lots of calories.
- It’s an excellent to very good source of nutrients. Mineral can make up more than one-third of the dry mass of seaweed. Since they live in a mineral-rich environment, seaweed is a great source of calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. When it comes to vitamins, 3.5 ounces of kelp provide 82 percent of your daily needs for vitamin K and 45 percent of folate. Wakame offers 49 percent of folate and 14 percent of riboflavin in 3.5 ounces.
- It’s super low in fat and carbs. Zero to 1 percent total fat is all you’ll find in 100 grams of seaweed and barely 10 grams of carbs.
- It can spice up your menu. Dried seaweed can be crumbled on top of soups while rehydrated seaweed can be added to salads or made into a salad (see recipe below). You can even make low-calorie seaweed chips! (See recipe below.)
- You can add it to green smoothies. Jazz up your green smoothie with a few tablespoons of dried seaweed for added nutrients and fiber.
Some seaweed is high in sodium, so choose your sea vegetables wisely. One sheet of nori has only 5 mg of sodium (as well as only 10 calories, 0 fat, and 1 g protein). One hundred grams (3.5 ounces) of wakame provides 872 mg sodium, but the same amount of kelp has 233 mg and spirulina has only 98 mg.
Seaweeds are known for their iodine content, a nutrient that can help balance thyroid hormone activity. A small amount of seaweed can help you meet your daily iodine requirement, which is 150 micrograms for adults.
Here are two easy seaweed recipes that can be a great addition to your weight loss eating plan.
Seaweed Salad (serves 4)
1 oz dried wakame seaweed, slivered
¼ cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs sesame oil
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds or chia seeds
¼ cup chopped white mushrooms
To rehydrate the seaweed, rinse the wakame, place in a bowl, and cover with water. Soak for about 5 minutes, then squeeze dry and slice into thin strips. While you are rehydrating the seaweed in water, prepare the dressing by combining all the other ingredients in a bowl. Add the rehydrated seaweed, toss and serve immediately or chill.
Hot Nori Chips
¼ cup water
2 Tb powdered wasabi or powdered garlic
10 sheet nori
Heat your oven to 250 degrees F. Mix the water and wasabi or garlic in a bow until dissolved. Take a nori sheet and fold it in half. Unfold it and use a pastry brush or similar utensil to brush the mixture on one half of the nori sheet. Fold the sheet, brush the top with the mixture, and then cut the nori into six strips. Place the strips on a baking sheet. Repeat the same process with the remaining nori sheets. Bake the strips for 10 to 12 minutes or until the nori is dark and dry. Allow the chips to cool before eating.
Jensen MG et al. Effect of alginate supplementation on weight loss in obese subjects completing a 12-wk energy-restricted diet: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2012 Jul; ajcn.025312
National Institutes of Health. Iodine
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