Nutrition from the Ocean

It’s not something most of us in the west grew up with, but sea vegetables – or ‘seaweed’ – is something we should all consider incorporating into our diets. It enhances our diet from a culinary as well as a health perspective. In Japan, sea vegetables have been eaten for thousands of years, but even here in the UK – where we are surrounded by water after all – seaweed is part of a traditional dish: Welsh laverbread.


nutritionist Southend-on-Sea Leigh-on-Sea

Sea vegetables contain virtually all the minerals found in the ocean, and there are no other plants that carry more nutrients, trace minerals and minerals. As a group, sea vegetables are known for their ability to detoxify environmental toxins and heavy metals, such as cadmium, from the body. Not only are sea vegetables rich sources of iodine – a mineral required for proper thyroid function – but also calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron. They also supply some B vitamins, such as folic acid, riboflavin (B2) and pantothenic acid (B5). Moreover, they contain lignans – a chemical compound from plants – that is thought to provide protection from cancer and helps alleviate menopausal symptoms – as well as fucans, which can help reduce inflammation. Lignans (another great source are flaxseeds) block the hormonal signalling of oestrogen-related cancers. In addition, seaweed appears to impair angiogenesis, the growth of blood vessels for the nutrient supply to tumours. Fucoids, another component of sea vegetables, a polysaccharide (carbohydrate) that is particularly rich in kombu and wakame, is believed to be cancer-protective, too, but is easily destroyed even by light cooking. To benefit from it, kombu or wakame need to be consumed in their raw or dried form.

The sea vegetables most commonly used for food are from the family of brown seaweeds (arame, hijiki, kelp, kombu, wakame) and red seaweeds (nori, dulse).


This wiry Japanese sea vegetable has a sweet and mild flavour. It contains 100 – 500 times more iodine than shellfish and is a great source of iron and vitamin A. Arame has ten times more calcium than milk.


Another Japanese sea vegetable, which is the highest in calcium, but also a good source of iron (eight times more than beef) and vitamin A. It has a stronger flavour than arame. Both hijiki and arame are available dried (long strands, similar to pasta) and will expand when rehydrated.


Kelp – like arame is a rich source of iodine and has four times more iron than beef. It is often sold as a powder or flakes.


Kombu is sold dried in wide strips or sheets. Adding a strip of kombu to dried beans and lentils during cooking helps them cook faster and alleviates digestive problems (flatulence, bloating) some people suffer when eating pulses. It contains potassium, calcium, iodine and vitamins A and C.


Nori is probably the best known sea vegetable as it is used to wrap sushi. It is usually sold in shiny, black sheets that are made in a similar way to paper, from nori pulp, but is also available as flakes. Nori is rich in calcium, iron, potassium and vitamin A.


Dulse has a reddish brown colour and a chewy texture. It is available in pieces (dried) or as flakes. Although all of the above contain protein, dulse and nori are particularly rich sources of it, with 20 – 30 per cent of their dry weight consisting of protein.

Most health food shops sell dried seaweed, either as long, dried strands, sea vegetable salad (dried pieces) or flakes. It is also available as a condiment, mixed with sea salt. Some supermarkets sell seaweed, too, but mainly nori for sushi making. It is also a component in some healthy snack foods such as crackers or savoury biscuits. Note that ‘crispy seaweed’ in Chinese restaurants or the ready meals aisle in the supermarket is not usually made from seaweed, but cabbage. Delicious as it may be, it is also deep-fried and covered in sugar and salt, so it really has nothing in common with the sea vegetables discussed above.

For ideas on how to incorporate sea vegetables into your diet, read tomorrow’s Nutrilicious News. It is not too late to subscribe!


Have a glowing 2016!

The festivities are over, and here we are with a brand new year! The New Year is a great time for fresh starts, and in January most of us don’t even mind giving our bodies a break after all the indulgences of Christmas. Maybe now would be a good time for a gentle detox. Freedom

We don’t think about our liver very much, least of all in December, and yet it is such a busy and efficient organ. It is the body’s chemical factory that builds and recycles substances we need and breaks down those we don’t. About 4 pints of blood pass through the liver every day, and a healthy liver is able to filter up to 99% of bacteria and toxins from the blood. Said toxins do not just enter the body from the air, water and food we take in, but also occur as normal waste products generated by a healthy metabolism.

Unfortunately, however, 21st century livers have so much more to deal with than just metabolic waste: environmental pollutants (e. g. cigarette smoke, traffic and industrial fumes, paints, glues), recreational and prescription drugs, alcohol, food additives, trans-fats, and plastics, to name but a few. Most people’s livers today work only at around 35 – 40% capacity due to the amount of toxins they have to process. The brain heavily relies on the liver to filter the blood before it gets to it, as it does not have any other way to protect itself. If the liver is overloaded, we will soon notice symptoms of the kind that are all too often just accepted as normal: headaches, low mood and irritability, difficulty concentrating, fatigue and listlessness, skin eruptions, bloating, flatulence and constipation, hangovers that appear to linger for longer … None of these appear serious enough to see the GP about, but they are annoying and unpleasant, especially if we are experiencing more than one. More than anything though, symptoms like these can be the liver’s cry for help.

Toxins filtered out by the liver are collected in the bile and leave the body via the colon. Those caught by the kidneys are excreted via the urine. Some can be exhaled, and some are excreted via the skin, which is the largest of the detox organs. If the liver is overloaded and struggling, the skin has to detox more – and it shows. Accelerated aging, acne, eczema, psoriasis and other skin conditions can be symptoms of a sluggish liver. So, if you want to look your best, improve your skin and glow, it’s not the latest expensive moisturiser you need, but liver support to help your skin from the inside.

While it would be impossible in this day and age to avoid all external toxins, there is a lot we can do to help our liver by decreasing our exposure to many of them and by supporting it with the right food and drink, by learning how to manage stress, by exercising and by getting enough sleep.

Why don’t you join me in a gentle detox online programme for just £1.50/day, starting on 17 January. Receive a daily email for 14 days and join our special Facebook group for more tips and tricks and community support. The programme can be seen as a one-off detox, but is designed to set you up for a fresh start into 2016 with a cleaner, healthier diet afterwards.

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