Ireland’s traditional diet of meat, dairy and saturated fat have long been associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular disease is Ireland’s number 1 killer, with the Irish Heart Foundation stating that it is currently the cause of one-third of all deaths and one in five premature deaths.
In contrast, the Japanese, in particular those from the island of Okinawa, enjoy the longest life expectancies in the world, along with low rates of heart disease. This is generally associated with their traditional diet of fish, soy, and seaweed. Studies conducted in Japan have associated seaweed consumption with protection against heart disease (2007).
Seaweeds are full of beneficial nutrients that can benefit our health as a whole, but particularly our cardiovascular health. Here are three reasons why you should be including seaweed in a heart-healthy diet
1. It contains potassium
Seaweeds, particularly Kelp, Alaria, and Dulse are high in potassium. Potassium is a key mineral that the body relies on heavily to function properly. It has a huge effect on heart health, It helps to lower blood pressure by balancing out the negative effects of salt. Just 2g of Kelp (Laminaria digitata) contains 9% of your recommended daily intake, which is the same amount found in half a banana!
2. It prevents the formation of blood clots
Fucoidan is a compound found in brown seaweed that has been investigated as a natural alternative to conventional blood thinning medications (1998). Fucoidan has the same structure as Heparin, a drug that has been used as an anticoagulant drug for more than 50 years. As Heparin is obtained from animals, there is an obvious need for a more humane and sustainable source of anti-coagulant and anti-thrombotic medications.
3. It boasts powerful antioxidants
Antioxidants have been researched for many years for their ability to prevent chronic disease. Fucoxanthin is an orange coloured antioxidant found in seaweed that is known for it's anti-inflammatory, anticancer, anti-obese, antidiabetic, and antiangiogenic properties (2011). Found in brown seaweeds, such as Kelp (Laminaria digitata), fucoxanthin works to clear up free radicals from the body, and prevent oxidative stress.
Seaweeds are truly the ocean's superfood, containing a huge range of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, D, and E along with the B vitamins (riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and folic acid) as well as minerals including calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), sodium (Na), and potassium (K).