Health Benefits of Sea Vegetables, from Minerals to Cancer Protection
With their long and legendary medicinal history in several traditions, it’s not surprising that modern scientists are continuing to produce impressive results with the medicinal use of sea vegetables.
Rich in Bioavailable Minerals
Sea vegetables, more commonly called ‘seaweeds,’ contain ten to twenty times the minerals of land plants, as well as a host of other vitamins. Interestingly, as sea vegetables thrive in a saline solution quite similar to that found inside the womb, their mineral profile is remarkably similar to that of human blood. As such, they are a particularly rich source of bioavailable iron and are an excellent addition to the diet of individuals who tend toward anemia. Sea vegetables are also rich in iodine and calcium.
Seaweeds have also been demonstrated to have a favorable effect on estrogen and phytoestrogen metabolism in healthy postmenopausal women, which may be particularly beneficial for women at risk for estrogen-sensitive cancers.
However, the most impressive component of sea vegetables may very well be their dense concentration of fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide that has shown great potential in the treatment of neoplastic diseases, including cancer. Recent studies have suggested particular promise against colon cancers and cervical cancer although the antiproliferative activity in each of this studies would seem promising extended to other cancers as well.
In addition to the polyphenols commonly found in above-ground foods, sea vegetables contain unique alkaloid antioxidants that can help reduce the risk of oxidative stress and its associated diseases, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Studies have shown particularly positive results in preventing in-stent restenosis, where blood vessels become reblocked even after the insertion of stents. This could be a good alternative to the immunosuppresive and antiproliferative pharmaceuticals the current generation of stents are typically coated with.
Given the rich medicinal potential of sea vegetables only recently acknowledged by academic science, it is quite interesting to note that they have been regarded in traditional Asian medicine for their powerful effects against stagnation, and yin and blood nourishing effects. In other words, traditional medicine has noted for thousands of years that seaweeds are in important tool for dissolving tumors, nodules, lumps or other swellings (what are generally called neoplastic diseases in modern medicine, including cancer and hyperplasia), that they are useful to enrich and quicken the blood (mineral rich and anti-coagulant in modern medicine) and that they can help regulate feminine balance (hormone regulation).