Here’s some nutrition advice from researchers in Italy: add some brown seaweed to your diet. This natural food has landed on the shelves of big chain grocery stores of late — and for good reason. Seaweed is full of healthful nutrients and has, in fact, been termed a “functional food” by nutritionists.
Why should you eat seaweed? Well, according to the Italian researchers, brown seaweed is the perfect food to fight obesity. It’s no secret that North America is struggling with this serious health problem. Being significantly overweight ups your risk for all of the major diseases — from diabetes, to heart disease…and even conditions seemingly unrelated to weight such as dementia.
Just how many people are struggling with serious weight problems? The World Health Organization estimates that 2.3 billion people will be overweight and 700 million will be obese in 2015. The reasons for this disastrous trend are likely a lack of exercise and physical activity and the increased dietary intake of fats, sugars and calories combined with reduced amounts of vitamins and minerals.
To prevent lifestyle-related diseases, like heart disease and type-2 diabetes, medical research is increasingly focused on functional foods, which may be useful for disease prevention and treatment. This is where the results from the Italian study come in. One of these functional ingredients is “fucoxanthin” (or FX), a carotenoid present in edible brown seaweeds, such as Wakame, Hijiki and Kombu.
The research team was able to determine that FX exerts an anti-obesity effect. Their study revealed that FX interacted with abdominal white adipose tissue in such a way that it led to the oxidation of fatty acids and heat production in the fat tissue.
The research team also said that FX has shown significant antioxidant activity, and anti-cancer, anti-diabetic and anti-aging properties.
Never tried seaweed before? Don’t judge the food by its appearance! Commercially packaged seaweeds taste quite mild and pleasantly salty and some are even seasoned with spices to enhance flavor.
For more on the health benefits of seaweeds, read the article How Seaweed Could Protect Your Heart.