Is Seaweed Good For You?

In the interests of simplicity, this section refers to edible seaweed or algae or any other ocean vegetables. These include kelp (wakame, arame, kombu), nori, dulse and sea lettuce (Monostroma and Ulva lactuca).

Seaweed is rich in vitamins and minerals

Seaweed is nutrient dense and is a source of a range of minerals including iodine, iron, calcium, and potassium. It can also be a good source of fibre.

In terms of vitamins and other micronutrients, different seaweed species contain varying amounts of vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin E, vitamin K, copper, zinc, selenium, manganese, magnesium and more. Brown seaweeds (such as wakame), have been shown to contain stearidonic acid, beta carotene, fucoxanthin and violaxanthin, giving it antioxidant, anticoagulant, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.

Brown seaweeds also contain Fucoidan, laminarin and alginic acid, which all exhibit anti-cancer properties in laboratory studies. The same can be said for the phlorotannins in kelp and phenolic acid in dulse.

Health benefits of seaweed

Fucoidan, a polysaccharide found within brown seaweed, can make up to 4% of its total dry mass and this has been found to be a treasure trove for researchers. Numerous studies have been carried out, conclusively showing that this substance helps to modulate the immune system, support the health of normal cells, supports blood circulation, reduces cholesterol levels, improves joint mobility and stimulates immune response. On top of that, Japanese cell studies have shown that Fucoidan causes various different types of cancer to self-destruct, including certain kinds of leukaemia cells, colon cancer cells, stomach cancer cells and breast cancer cells.

Fucoidan has also been shown to be effective against lymphoma, whilst leaving healthy cells intact, in laboratory studies.

Allow relaxation to nourish your body and soul, let your spine be loose like seaweed

– Eoin Finn

Brown seaweed, particularly wakame, also contains omega-3 fats including stearidonic acid and eicosapentaenoic acid which helps to balance out your omega-3 to omega-6 acid ratio. As per the section on Fish and Flaxseed, studies have shown that a high ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in your diet can potentially increase your cancer risk, whilst increasing your omega-3 intake helps to balance this ratio and significantly reduces your cancer risk for a number of types of cancer.

A Japanese study on rats showed that wakame reduced breast cancer cell proliferation. In another study, wakame root, known as mekabu, induced cell death in human hormone receptor negative (ER-/PR-) breast-cancer cells and suppressed mammary carcinogenesis. The extract of mekabu was administered in the rats’ drinking water without any discernible toxicity.

Wakame may also help protect you from environmental exposure to dioxins. A study showed that wakame was effective in preventing the absorption and reabsorption of dioxin through the gut.

Can seaweed cause cancer?

Whilst seaweed has been shown to be highly beneficial in a number of studies, one large study was delivered by mainstream media in a very alarmist fashion. They claimed that daily consumption of seaweed can greatly increase your risk of cancer.

The truth of the study was that out of 53,000 Japanese women (ranging in age from 40 to 69 years old) who ate seaweed daily over the course of 14 years, 134 women were diagnosed with thyroid cancer during the trial. The newspapers reported that this meant the women were 1.7 times more likely to develop cancer. This is not true. The research actually showed that they were 1.7 times more likely to develop thyroid cancer, which is quite rare. They entirely ignored the reduction in cancer rates of all other forms of cancer.

On balance, yes, thyroid cancer levels slightly increased to a 1 in 500 chance amongst postmenopausal women, but other cancers, such as breast cancer, (where you normally have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed), were made considerably less likely.

We are not here in this world to drift like seaweed. Whatever intelligence we have, it is our duty to drive to the utmost

– Blanche Willis Howard

By way of compromise, I would suggest that seaweed is still included as part of a healthy diet, but perhaps not daily.

With some varieties of seaweed having almost a third of their dry mass made up of micronutrients, they are hard to dismiss as a valid food source in the fight against cancer.

However, due to the pollution of the sea, some seaweeds can contain unacceptable levels of heavy metals, including arsenic. It is often down to where it is grown. You must also bear in mind that seaweed is not a good choice for people with thyroid disorders due to the high iodine levels. Equally, there is the possibility of high sodium content, which could affect blood pressure levels in those who are susceptible to high blood pressure.

If you enjoyed this article, then why not take a look at Cancer Uncensored – Your Step By Step Guide to Cancer Prevention, Early Detection and Cancer Survival.

Cancer Uncensored

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