If you’ve struggled to find the best weight loss method for you, I’m sure you know just how many different claims are out there about things that will supposedly help you lose weight quickly. I’m also sure you know that the vast majority of these methods do not work, and any claims of a miracle weight loss solution (or a miraculous cure for any ailment) should be taken with a grain of salt. Though some “superfoods” or incredible weight loss workouts may be healthy for you in some regard, their benefits are largely exaggerated—they don’t provide any kind of shortcut and often prey on the fervent weight loss hopes of overweight or obese people.
So what about seaweed, one of the most oft-cited incredible foods? Over the course of many years, claims about the benefits of seaweed have been various and numerous, including potential for help with weight loss, cancer prevention and anti-aging. But are these claims really true of the ocean plant?
Untangling Seaweed Myths
Though seaweed is perhaps most often referenced for its allegedly incredible use in skincare, research data about its efficacy most strongly support its role in reducing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, inflammation and tumor growth in animals (research does not yet support its role in cancer prevention in humans). Though any other claims about seaweed’s health benefits are considered by experts to be unfounded, here’s a look at why seaweed may still be a valuable part of your weight loss diet.
- Seaweed is a “free” food. Containing almost no fat and only five to 20 calories per serving, seaweed is an undeniably light food choice. Its high fiber content can also help you feel full more quickly, giving it potential as a good snack choice. Researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan have also discovered that a substance called fucoxanthin in brown seaweed can help to reduce fat buildup in lab animals, though this research may not be applicable to humans.
- Fiber content can aid with blood sugar. Seaweed’s soluble fiber content can help slow the rate at which food is digested and absorbed, allowing it to help balance blood sugar levels when eaten during a meal.
- Seaweed is a great source of many nutrients. Seaweed can have as much as 10 times the amount of calcium as milk and is rich in iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium and vitamins A and C. It’s also one of only a few vegetable sources of vitamin B-12. Though many enjoy the taste of seaweed it’s definitely an acquired taste, so you’ll only be getting these nutritional benefits if you like it enough to eat a lot of it.
Like so many potential elements of a good diet, the benefits of seaweed often get blown out of proportion. Seaweed does seem to have potential as part of a weight loss diet, but you should remain skeptical of claims about it being a miracle cure for anything. You should remain especially cautious of seaweed dietary supplements as their contents are not regulated by the FDA, meaning that any seaweed (including the poisonous kind) can be processed and packaged as a supplement. Is it a “superfood”? Perhaps, perhaps not—but it’s certainly a healthy food.