Let's face it, you're not going to have seaweed with a side of popcorn. Or are you? With its strong, smoky flavor, this sea vegetable goes well with tempeh, miso soup, salads, vegetable stews, and heaps of greens. Maybe it's the synergistic effects of all those healthy ingredients that keep the Okinawans living past 100, as well as giving people on macrobiotic diets (of which seaweed is a staple) lustrous hair and glowing complexions.
Alginate for example, a specific substance in brown seaweed, can strengthen gut mucus, slow down digestion, and make food release its energy more slowly. A groundbreaking study at Station Biologique de Roscoff in France found that Japanese people harbor enzymes in their intestinal bacteria that help them digest seaweed, enzymes that North Americans lack. What's more, the Japanese may have first acquired these enzymes by eating bacteria that thrive on seaweed in the open ocean (well someone's gotta do it).
So if gut bacteria has evolved for us to feast on sushi, we love the idea of adding seaweed into other recipes to bring some serious umami into our cooking repertoire. Thinking outside the box and getting creative with seaweed's health-boosting properties and the myriad ways it can be incorporated into everyday meals is fun. Dulse flakes, wakame, arame, kelp, hijiki — we'll never turn down a chance to get our fill of this fibrous, protein-rich superfood.