Is Seaweed the New Green Leaf?

You may be comfortable with green veggies like spinach and kale, but how about eating a veggie from another part of the food chain? Find out why the popularity of this sea vegetable is on the rise.

Seaweed By the Numbers (and Colors)

According to a report published by the United Nations, almost 25 million tons of seaweed were farmed in 2012. While most of this farming was done in Asia, there has been an increasing amount of seaweed harvesting taking place all across the United States. With this has come a spike in local chefs seeking out seaweed farmers to make marine-inspired creations.

The most-common varieties of edible seaweed include kelp, nori, wakame and dulse.

Kelp (aka kombu) is a brown algae used for sushi and as a flavoring for soup. Nori is technically classified as a “red” seaweed, but sheets appear dark green or purple. Nori boasts a high mineral content and is a staple in sushi rolls. Fresh wakame is bright green and often used in soups and salads. The briny flavor of dulse makes it a nice fit for miso soups and condiments.

Nutrition Facts

One ounce of wakame contains 13 calories, 244 mg of sodium, 14 percent of the daily recommendation for folate, a healthy dose of magnesium, plus some calcium and iron. Kelp has a similar nutrient profile but is significantly higher in vitamin K.

Seaweed also contains a tremendous amount of iodine, an important mineral for metabolism and immune function. Too much of this nutrient can be harmful, though, so seaweed lovers may want to keep their intake in check. Three ounces of shrimp contains 23 percent of the daily recommendation, but one sheet of seaweed packs anywhere from 11 to 2,000 percent depending on the source.

Healthy Ways to Get More Seaweed Into Your Life

Sushi rolls may be to thank for your current intake of seaweed, but there are plenty more ways to enjoy this green, whether you’re in your kitchen or on the go.

Recipes to Try:

Kimchi Fried Rice

Vegetable Sushi

Ahi Poke and Seaweed Salad (pictured below)

Miso Soup

Goodies to Buy:

Annie Chun’s Seaweed Snacks and Seaweed Crisps

Kelp Crunch Bars

Trader Joe’s Roasted Seaweed Snacks

Get the recipe

Ahi Poke and Seaweed Salad 03:30

Sushi-grade yellowfin tuna is the key to Guy's Ahi Poke and Seaweed Salad.

Related Links:

Favorite Spots for Poke Bowls from Coast to Coast

New-School Spins on Old-School Healthy Dishes

Veg Out: 20 Top Vegan Restaurants from Coast to Coast

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.

Keep Reading

Next Up

New Uses for Leafy Greens

The health benefits of leafy greens are numerous and to eat more of them you'll have to think beyond kale chips and sauteed spinach.

Nutrition News: What Kind of Vegan Are You, Eggs and Diabetes, Brain Benefits of Leafy Greens

Ethical vegans persevere, eggs lower Type 2 diabetes risk, and leafy greens defer dementia.

Down-Home Comfort: Collard Greens and Cornbread for New Year's Day

Get your year off to the right start with this recipe for Collard Greens with Smoked Turkey and Whole Grain Cornbread.

Nutrition News: Millennial Diets, Cage-Free Taco Bell, Green Tea and Metabolism

Millennials don’t count calories or fear fat, Taco Bell goes cage-free and green tea is not a metabolic miracle.

Green Is the New Black: 5 Must-Try Pestos

Enhance your favorite summer dishes with Food Network Kitchen's five easy takes on the classic pesto.

The New Green Leaves and Vegetables, and How to Use Them

Burning out on kale? Try out these new greens in town.

In the News: Warning for Tea Drinkers, Starbucks Goes Green, Teen Weight Loss Surgery & More

From this week’s headlines: Starbucks goes eco-friendly, weekly food recalls, making dinner faster and easier, and weight loss surgery for teens.

Leafy Greens: Amazingly Delicious and Powerful Super Foods

These are some of our favorite foods! With multiple benefits including vitamins, nutrients, fiber and more, they can help your body function at its best.