Why low carb seaweed in your diet could boost fat loss
Think seaweed and you probably have flashbacks of wading through rock pools full off slimy green stuff on a day out to the beach as a kid.
It's probably the last thing you could ever imagine slapping on your plate and wolfing down with some chicken breast and avocado.
But seaweed is being touted as the next great superfood to help us cut weight, shed fat and generally be healthy.
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver credits switching to a diet heavy in seaweed with helping him lose nearly two stone.
That's great, but the nutrition science behind the green stuff (which is actually algae and not a plant) is really quite incredible.
Newcastle University researchers found that sea kelps were high in alginate - a compound which helps suppress the digestion of fat.
Basically it blocks the fat-digesting enzyme which means the body absorbs less fat. In diet terms, seaweed is very low carb, with around 3g of carbs and zero fat - and a 100g portion contains just 38 calories.
It's also high in fibre which keeps you feeling full, stabilises blood sugar and is key to weight loss, according to this My Fitness Pal data.
Seaweed is also very high in antioxidants and also contains chlorophyll which fights inflammation but also suppresses hunger. It's rich in iodine which stimulates the metabolism and is important in regulating thyroid function, according to Food World News.
Tagliatelle from Seamore
Thyroid problems are behind hormonal imbalance, fatigue and weight problems.
Pound for pound is has more iron than steak and more calcium than cheese (we need calcium for muscle function and iron is keep in cellular energy production).
It might sound a bit grim, but it's actually a very versatile ingredient in recipes. Top chefs including Heston Blumenthal use it as a flavour enhancer in dishes.
It has what the Japanese call 'umami' - the so-called 'fifth flavour' which literally translates as 'pleasant savory flavour' and it can add meatiness to dishes.
You can use it as a replacement for high carb pastas in Italian dishes like carbonara and bolognaise and it goes well in salads, curries and soups. There are dozens of recipes online.
It's surprisingly easy to get your hands on some to try too. Supermarkets like Sainsbury's and Waitrose have started stocking seaweeds and you can buy it dried (to boil up) from places like Seamore or fresh from JustSeaweed.