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Dulse (Palmaria palmata from Nova Scotia, Canada)
Trace minerals, on the decline in land-grown crops, are necessary for proper function of all body activities and systems. Sea plants concentrate these biologically valuable trace minerals. Nova Scotia Dulse is a sea vegetable that is a natural source of essential vitamins, minerals & trace elements, protein, ions, sea salt and roughage and iodine that supports thyroid gland activity and function. Also a natural source of iodine, an essential trace mineral that supports your thyroid gland activity and function, and proper metabolism. Iodine helps your body regulate temperature, blood cell production, muscle and nerve function and other bodily functions.
Dulse is especially noted for its lithium content. Natural, dietary lithium is utilized by the body to help moderate temperament and to help control anger and hostility. A benefit of this same function is it helps create a mental environment conducive to an ideal romantic, sexual and loving relationship. Complete, healthy nutrition is essential for complete, healthy sex. A healthy sex life is indicative of deep overall health. A faltering or sparse sex life can be indicative of deeper nutritional troubles pointing to a need for professional evaluation of health and nutrition.
Health Benefits of Seaweed
Coastal peoples all over the world have prized seaweed as a source of valuable nutrients, primarily minerals, for millennia. The inland native peoples used to trade their most precious possessions for a bag of dried seaweed laboriously carried on someone’s back from the coast. Knowledge of the tonic and healing powers of seaweed was passed down among coastal peoples from generation to generation. Much of their knowledge is in the process of being confirmed by modern scientific analysis. And demographic studies have shown that people who regularly incorporate edible seaweeds into their diets have fewer problems from mineral depletion and live longer than other peoples.
Sea vegetables contain 10 to 20 times the minerals and vitamins of land vegetables. Gram for gram, they are higher in vitamins and minerals than any other class of food. The minerals are available in chelated, colloidal forms that make them especially available to the bodies of humans and animals, a concept known as “bioavailability.” All sea vegetables contain significant amounts of protein, sometimes as much as 48%. Sea plants are also a rich sources of both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber. The large brown seaweeds known as the “kelps” (including wakame and kombu) contain alginic acid. Studies have shown that alginic acid removes heavy metals and radioactive isotopes from the digestive tract, as well as strontium 90 from the bones.
Sea vegetables have traditionally been used in Asia to treat heart disease, hypertension, cancer, and thyroid problems. Modern researchers are trying to understand the physiological mechanisms by which seaweed can be used to successfully treat these diseases, with some promising results. One especially exciting theory proposes that consumption of Laminaria (kombu) explains the low breast cancer rate in postmenopausal Japanese women. Much more will be learned in future years as the study of these wondrous plants from the sea continues.
Seaweeds contain vitamins A, B, C, and E. Moreover, many seaweeds contain what appears to be vitamin B-12, a vitamin normally found only in animal products. Avoiding B-12 deficiency has traditionally posed a problem for people on raw foods, vegan, macrobiotic, and vegetarian diets, but seaweed just might solve the problem. The source of the B-12 in seaweed remains a mystery (is it made by bacteria living on the surface or in the water?), and researchers wonder if it is not really B-12 but an “analogue” – something that resembles B-12 but cannot be utilized by the human body. Dr. Norman Cousens is quite convinced that the B-12 in seaweed is bioavailable, and the experience of some long-term vegan/vegetarians seems to confirm that view.
The mineral content of sea vegetables is extraordinary, and is probably at the root of most of their healing properties. Several of the theories put forth to explain the ability of seaweed to reduce heart disease and hypertension are based in the high mineral content of seaweed, particularly potassium, calcium, sodium, and chloride. In the words of Shep Erhart, author of Sea Vegetable Celebration, “Every second of every day your body depends on minerals to generate billions of tiny electric impulses throughout your nervous system. Your heart would stop, your muscles would freeze, and your brain would black out if these minerals were not available in just the right amounts and the right form. The minerals in seaweeds are in colloidal form, meaning they retain their molecular identity while remaining in liquid suspension. Colloids are very small in size and are easily absorbed by the body’s cells. Plants convert metallic minerals, which can be toxic, into colloids with a natural, negative electric charge. Negatively charged minerals have been shown to increase the transport and bioavailability of other foods and supplements.”
“Minerals that are attached to other substances such as amino acids are also more bioavailable. These are call chelated minerals, from the Greek word for claw. Seaweeds provide all of the 56 minerals and trace minerals required for your body’s physiological functions in chelated, colloidal forms. Most enzymatic functions depend on minute amounts of bioavailable trace minerals. The major minerals are instrumental in all kinds of life-sustaining activities in your body: magnesium is crucial in calcium absorption, iodine in thyroid function, iron in blood oxygen exchange, and chromium in blood sugar regulation. All of these functions are facilitated by the presence of chelated, colloidal minerals.” The minerals in sea vegetables are more important to humans and animals today than ever. The 1997 edition of Food Composition Handbook shows a 25-50% decline in the vitamin and mineral content of foods since the last survey done in 1975. “This decline suggests a steady deterioration in soil, air, and water quality, as well as reduced seed vitality, that is depleting minerals and other inorganic compounds from our food.”
Minerals in Relation to Tofu, Beans, and Grains
Tofu, beans, and grains contain a substance called phytic acid which blocks the absorption of minerals. With beans and grains you can mitigate this problem by soaking them for 18 hours before cooking. The soaking activates the seed embryo, which neutralizes the phytic acid. Alternatively, you can add seaweed to your pot of grain or beans, which makes more minerals available and ensures that some will be absorbed. In Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon and Mary Enig point out that Americans are using tofu very differently than it is used in Asia. In Asia small quantities of tofu are usually served in a fish-based broth with seaweed. The seaweed and the fish provide additional minerals that balance the mineral-leaching effect of the phytic acid in the tofu. But Americans, having identified tofu as a vegetable source of protein, have isolated it from its culinary tradition and consume huge quantities of it the way we would consume steak or hamburgers. Hundreds of substitute meat products consist mainly of texturized soy protein, and many people simply dip a slab of tofu in tamari and yeast and fry it. We would be wise to eat in harmony with Asian traditions and use tofu in smaller quantities and in combination with fish and/or seaweed.