Treasures of the Sea Yield Natural Cures
It's a Fact: Scientists have recently concluded that sea vegetables offer perhaps the broadest range of minerals of any food found on earth. Western cultures are only recently beginning to discover the nutritional value of sea vegetables which have remained the foundation of the Japanese diet for centuries. In fact, sea vegetables contain virtually all the nutrients found in the ocean and the very same minerals found in human blood.
Why Would Anyone Want to Eat Seaweed?
It's simple. sea vegetables offer the broadest range of minerals of any food and are an excellent source of the B-vitamin folate, and magnesium, as well as a great source of iron, calcium, and the B-vitamins riboflavin and pantothenic acid. In addition, seaweed contains significant amounts of lignans, which are plant compounds with cancer-protective properties.
Where's the Evidence
More recently scientists have concluded that seaweed is up to 60 times more potent that its land-based counterparts. Cultures such as Japan and Korea have known of the powerful health benefits of sea vegetation for centuries. In fact, cultures that have traditionally eaten seaweed-based diets have historically shown fewer instances of obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative diseases. Additionally, studies of large groups of people who eat seaweed and algae regularly tend to show that they have less breast cancer than those who eat more meats. Women in Japan, for example, have a lower risk of breast cancer than woman in the United States.
How Seaweed Offers Cancer Protection
Lignans have been shown to inhibit angiogenesis, or blood cell growth, the process through which fast-growing tumors not only gain extra nourishment, but send cancer cells out in the bloodstream to establish secondary tumors or metastases in other areas of the body. In addition, lignans have been credited with inhibiting estrogen synthesis in fat cells as effectively as some of the drugs used in cancer chemotherapy. In postmenopausal women, fat tissue is a primary site where estrogen is synthesized, and high levels of certain estrogen metabolites are considered a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
In addition to lignans, seaweed is a very good source of the B-vitamin folic acid. Studies have shown that diets high in folate-rich foods are associated with a significantly reduced risk for colon cancer.
Healthy Thyroid Function
The health benefits of sea vegetables are not limited to cancer protection. Seaweed is also nature's richest sources of iodine, which as a component of the thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), - both of which are essential to human life. The thyroid gland adds iodine to the amino acid tyrosine to create these hormones. Without sufficient iodine, your body cannot synthesize them. Because these thyroid hormones regulate metabolism in every cell of the body and play a role in virtually all physiological functions, an iodine deficiency can have a devastating impact on your health and well-being. A common sign of thyroid deficiency is an enlarged thyroid gland, commonly called a goiter. Goiters are estimated to affect 200 million people worldwide, and in all but 4% of these cases, the cause is iodine deficiency.
Nutrient Prevention of Birth Defects
Additionally, the folic acid so abundant in sea vegetables plays a number of other very important protective roles. Studies have demonstrated that adequate levels of folic acid in the diet are needed to prevent certain birth defects, including spina bifida. Folic acid is also needed to break down an intermediate dangerous chemical called homocysteine. The chemical Homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls, and high levels of this chemical are associated with a significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke.
Sea vegetables pack a double punch against heart disease. In addition to their folic acid, sea vegetables are also a very good source of magnesium, which has been shown to reduce high blood pressure and prevent heart attack.
Seaweed for Stress Relief
Seaweed also has been proven to provide support through stressful situations by supplying not only magnesium, but pantothenic acid and riboflavin--two B-vitamins necessary for energy production. Pantothenic acid is especially important for the health of the adrenal glands. The adrenals control many body functions and play a critical role in resistance to stress. When supplies of necessary nutrients like pantothenic acids are inadequate, stressful times can exhaust the adrenal glands resulting in chronic fatigue, reduced resistance to allergies and infection, and a feeling of being overwhelmed or overly anxious.