flickr | marceo santos

flickr | marceo santos

A recent article in the New Yorker highlighted the potential sustainability and nutrient superpowers of seaweed. It's an interesting read that chronicles the potential benefits of seaweed to the environment, agriculture and to our health while pointing out that it could be the next "superfood." The author even mentions how celebrity chef Jamie Oliver attributes his ability to lose 30 pounds to adding the all-mighty seaweed into his diet while cutting back alcohol intake to weekends only. Let's take a look at the potential benefits of seaweed while considering the limitations of dubbing a food as a "miracle food."

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I applaud the charge to find and cultivate more sustainable food sources. But, it's important to recognize the flaws and baggage that come with tagging a food source as a "miracle food." Seaweed provides an impressive lineup of hard to get nutrients, vitamins and minerals including vitamin B12, iodine and other trace minerals. Additionally, it's high in omega-3 fatty acids - important factors in brain health. Sounds like a great, or shall I say, "SUPER" food to me! 

super dilemma

So what's the big deal? If seaweed has health promoting powers and is possibly the world's most sustainable crop from an agricultural and environmental perspective then let's dig in - right? Well, let's pump the brakes a bit. Consider the irony here: seaweed, although a highly sustainable crop to grow, may not be a good fit in a sustainable approach to eating. In other words, tagging a food as "superfood" tends to send people into a frenzy to load up on, obsess about and choke down this new cure-all solely for the benefits of a few of its parts. This is the opposite of a healthy, responsible and sustainable approach to nourishment. 

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super solution

The solution to this ironic dilemma is simple - give seaweed, sea vegetables, kelp, nori or dulse a try. It's important and healthy to strive for diversity in where your nutrients come from. If you enjoy any or all forms of seaweed then it will be a nice long term fit in your quest to be a healthy and satisfied eater. A healthy eating style that is sustainable in the long run requires that your food choices bring you the nutrients that you need in forms that you enjoy - they nourish you. 

On the other hand, if you find that you're forcing yourself to choke sea vegetables down just because someone said they are a "superfood" then take a pass and move on to other more enjoyable nourishment options - there are other fish in the sea.  

p.s.

My guess is that most of Jamie Oliver's 30 pound weight loss had more to do with cutting back his alcohol consumption versus noshing on seaweed...


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Tim DiFrancesco, PT, DPT, ATC, CSCS is the Head Strength & Conditioning Coach for the Los Angeles Lakers and Founder of TD Athletes Edge, where he provides fitness, recovery and nutrition guidance to aspiring and professional athletes. For training advice, visit www.tdathletesedge.com and follow him on Twitter/Instagram through @tdathletesedge.

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