Seaweed: Superfood or Reggae Aphrodisiac?

SeaweedBoth actually. Irish Moss, named after its major ingredient, was said to be Bob Marley’s favourite drink, and prized for its aphrodisiac qualities.   It’s made of seaweed, condensed milk,  and flavoured with vanilla, cinnamon or nutmeg.  It also goes more than a little heavy on the sugar, so please send us your healthier version using stevia etc.

The western world has picked up the seaweed habit fairly recently, mainly thanks to the Japanese snack food we know and love as sushi. In Japan it’s traditional to eat “something from the sea” with each meal…..even if just a bonito soup broth or some seaweed.

There’s evidence that seaweed was greatly sought after by inland tribal cultures and has been a focus of trade for millennia.  It was a delicacy in western countries too, going back over 1000 years.  The Irish monks of St Columbus are said to have enjoyed seaweed and offered it to guests.  It’s still popular in many parts of the UK. Fresh, local varieties are starting to appear in selected shops and restaurants worldwide. Research is now showing that the widespread introduction of seaweed into the human diet could be a great planetary health booster.

Why eat seaweed?  For starters seaweed’s ease of digestion makes it perfect for the nutrient dense/calorie poor diet advised for healthy ageing.  It’s full of trace minerals, some of which (like iodine) are hard to find in land-based plants.  It’s packed with antioxidants,  phytochemicals and vitamins as well as being an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and a great dietary fibre.  Seaweeds also contain a plethora of useful medicinal compounds which are under intense research. The sea is seen as a source of many new products in the functional food industry which is very interested in the apparent superiority of marine peptides, marine carotenoids, and marine polyphenols, compared to their land-based equivalents.

It’s no wonder, since seaweeds and other marine-based foods have also been found to be:

  • cholesterol-lowering
  • anti-inflammatory
  • analgesic
  • antibacterial
  • antiviral
  • anticancer
  • antidiabetic
  • good for weight loss
  • protective for the liver
  • helpful for high blood pressure

Seaweed is easy to store, either dried or frozen.  It’s also available as a food condiment and salt substitute.  As a vegetable it is a perfect addition to soups and salads.  Children love to cut nori slices into squares and wrap up small sushi style snacks with rice, chopped vegetables, prawns etc.

Caution:  Source your seaweed from organic suppliers. 

Want to read more about what Bob Marley liked to eat? Fascinating stuff in Food and Wine’s article, Insider’s Jamaica.





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