New Year New You - Inspired by Seaweed

Updated: Apr 30, 2020


January is traditionally the month that many set their goals, well-intentioned new years resolutions and balanced lifestyle changes. Maybe you were thinking of a healthy eating plan or generally just looking after yourself better? I don't know about you but January here in Scotland is dark, cold and generally quite bleak. February, on the other hand, is getting lighter with more daylight hours as well as giving you more time to indulge and eat all the left over Christmas chocolates. I love celebrating the Lunar New Year (Chinese New Year) in February, for me it really is the start to the prosperous new year. Did you know that in Thailand, New Year (Songkran) is celebrated in April?

Chinese New Year 2019 - Year of the Pig

We all have good intentions but sometimes it's hard putting ourselves first but like on airline safety videos, if we don't fit our own oxygen mask first we will be unable to help others. It's a balance in the real modern world that many (including myself) struggle with. So from today once a month I am going to take time out and relax. I know ...I have almost forgotten what that is too! Did you know seaweed has been around for centuries and today used in that all essential massage?

New Year New You - Inspired By Seaweed

For me seaweed has always been there since a young age, visiting the many beaches but on our first visit to Japan, we were asked if we would like to try some Nori? I had no idea that you could consume it! Here is more on the unusual delicatessen - seaweed.

Papa Westray ©MDHarding

Seaweed History

It has been said that in 800 AD 6 different types of seaweed were cooked in Japan. Including using seaweed to create Nori (dried sheets of seaweed, used in Sushi). Did you know research also suggests that seaweed has been used since 2700 BC in China?

Here in Scotland seaweed was used as a manure and as an alkali in the chemical industry. It was an important industry in Scotland, especially on the Western Isles of Scotland into the 19th century. When St Columbia arrived on the Scottish Island of Iona he recognised the nutritional value and refereed to it in a poem. It was said that Ionian monks would collect and feed seaweed to the poor, softening it with butter or mixing it with oatmeal.

Historic records tell how important dulse was during medieval times. Did you know a crop of dulse was as valuable as a cow in Ireland!

Old Kelp Storehouse, Papa Westray ©MDHarding

Seaweed & Nutrition

I had the opportunity to learn more from Dr Laura Wyness "Seaweed is a source of iodine as well as many other natural bio-active compounds. It also has a variety of beneficial functions such as being used in low sodium salts and increasing our satiety (making us feel fuller for longer)."

"Dairy products and seafood are the main dietary source of iodine in the UK. For the past 50 years or so, the UK population was considered to be iodine sufficient. However, data from recent surveys has led to increasing concerns that adequate iodine intakes are not being met (Vanderpump et al, 2011), especially among pregnant women (Bath et al, 2014) who have increased requirements. Anyone who excludes, or limits dairy and fish from their diet is at risk of iodine deficiency. Plant-based milk alternatives are not commonly fortified with iodine."

"Some types of seaweed are associated with risks, such as toxicity from very high iodine levels or contaminants and heavy metals. However, including some seaweed as a whole product in our diet or including foods that incorporate seaweed into the recipe can help increase the availability of iodine in our diet. As with most nutrients and foods, moderation is key. Too much iodine can have negative impacts on thyroid hormone production. Too little iodine can also be detrimental and may result in goitre."

Refs:

Vanderpump et al 2011 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21640375

Bath et al 2014 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25274294

Seaweed for Health - Edinburgh Botanical Gardens Event 2018

Mara Seaweed

Mara is Scotland's award-winning seaweed producer and leading expert in sustainable harvesting, processing and flavours. Buy your own edible seaweed here.

For more inspiration in the kitchen and superfood recipes - The Seaweed Cookbook: Superfood recipes from the sea by Xa Milne: