Don’t cringe. Since processed sea vegetables are used as thickeners and stabilizers in a variety of packaged foods, most of you have probably already consumed seaweed. The more nutritious way to indulge, of course, is to try seaweed is in its unprocessed form.
1. Agar Agar: Can be used as a vegetarian gelatin substitute or a thickener for meat-free dishes. Low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium and high in folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin K, zinc, and copper.
2. Arame: Sweet and mild and loaded with iron, calcium, and iodine.
3. Dulse: A very salty, iron-rich seaweed often used as a salt substitute in soups and stews. It can also be eaten raw (like jerky).
4. Hijiki: The calcium and iron-rich hijiki is both mild in flavor and cost-efficient as it quadruples in size when rehydrated.
5. Kelp: Loaded with carotene, iodine, chromium, and also known for thyroid stimulation and its cleansing capabilities.
6. Kombu: Whether you buy it fresh, dried, pickled, or frozen, Kombu remains a good source of iodine, dietary fiber, iron, and potassium. Also used to support the thyroid and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
7. Nori: Usually encountered in the thin dark sheets used to make sushi, nori is probably the most familiar seaweed used in Western cuisine. The original plant is typically dark purplish-black, but when toasted, nori turns green and acquires a nutty flavor.
8. Wakame: Thin and stringy and deep green in color and used in making seaweed salad and miso soup. A good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Niacin, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Copper, and Manganese.
Mickey Z. gets by with a little kelp from his friends. He can be found on the Web at Mickey Z.net.