Long Live Seaweed

Long live seaweed!

Long live seaweed!

In 2004, Dan Buettner and National Geographic identified five Blue Zones on our planet where people live to be 100 at rates ten times greater than Americans. Okinawa, Japan is one of these Blue Zones and Okinawans are the longest-lived people in the world, with an average life expectancy of over 80 years. The people of Okinawa have many things working in their favor, starting with living in a tropical paradise. Other factors include: eating a very well-balanced, high-nutrient, low-calorie diet from fresh, local sources; being physically active on a regular basis; keeping busy within their communities; and, practicing meditation.

When it comes to food the Okinawans have a saying, “Ishoku-dogen,” which means, “food and medicine from the same source.” Okinawans eat many unusual foods, which they believe are responsible for promoting their longevity and well-being. One of these foods is seaweed.
Seaweed is also known as sea vegetables, but it’s really a form of marine algae. There are many species of seaweed and they are usually grouped by color, most commonly brown, red and green. Some of the more popular ones are: nori (used for wrapping sushi), mozuku, kombu, kelp, dulse, arame, hijiki, and wakame. Other edible sea vegetables that are gaining popularity include: sea lettuce, sea palm, bladderwrack, ocean ribbons, alaria and corsican.
Seaweed is one of the most mineral dense foods we can eat. It has 10-20 times the minerals of land plants and contains all of the minerals and trace elements found in the ocean, which are also present in our blood. It is rich in calcium and iodine, and it’s a great source of folic acid, magnesium, iron, and protein. Seaweed contains phytonutrients like lignans (help protect against cancer and relieve menopausal symptoms) and fucans (help prevent inflammation in the body). Many Japanese believe regular consumption of seaweed (especially kelp varieties) promotes thick, shiny hair and soft, supple skin.
So, how do we go about eating this delicacy? Well, you could gather your own sea vegetables to eat fresh, but you’ll probably only do that once! A more adaptable approach would be to check out the dried versions of the seaweeds mentioned above at your local Asian supermarket or health food store. They come in many forms—sheets, strips, powder, or flakes. (Be sure they are in dry, airtight packaging).
Some quick serving ideas include:
• Using nori sheet to make your own sushi
• Crumbling dried strips over salads or stir-fry’s
• Substituting seaweed powder for salt
• Adding flakes to soups and beans (will actually help improve digestibility).

Here’s an Okinawan recipe for Dashi, a quick & flavorful stock from Sally Beare’s book, “50 Secrets of the World’s Longest Living People.”

This is a classic Japanese stock made from seaweed and dried fish flakes from the bonito fish. It is a staple of many dishes and is also used as a medicinal soup to maintain and restore vigor. Use it as a versatile base for your own invented recipes using noodles, soy, and vegetables.

2 strips kombu seaweed
1 large pinch of bonito flakes (available in packets from Asian supermarkets)
¾ tablespoon soy sauce (use the traditionally brewed, low-salt kind)

1. Boil the kombu for 3-4 minutes in a small pan of water (use about half a pint of
water. Remove from heat.
2. Add the bonito flakes and return to the heat. Remove from heat just as the water
returns to the boil.
3. Allow to stand for 5 minutes, or until bonito flakes sink. Strain and keep the
liquid. Discard the solids.
4. Add the soy sauce. Serves 2-3.

About Annette Cain

Annette Cain is an award-winning author, endurance athlete and certified personal trainer.

Known as the Longevity Lady™ Annette helps baby boomers age stronger so their bodies can keep up with their lives. Her ageless lifestyle products and programs provide an easy and balanced approach to becoming lean & limber and living younger longer.

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