Health Benefits of Roasted Seaweed (Nori), a Delicious Afternoon Snack
I have always been quite a bit of a sushi addict. The freshness of this type of Japanese food, the many different flavors, the lively colors, I could literally eat it every day.
Sushi ingredients, such as salmon, egg, tuna and chicken, are usually quite nutritious, but what about that crunchy layer of green goodness around the rice that holds everything together?
This layer is roasted seaweed, also known as sushi nori or nori seaweed, which by itself is surprisingly healthy. You can also eat it as an afternoon snack by itself when you feel like munching on something. Let’s find out what the health benefits of roasted seaweed chips are, as we have a closer look at this fine Japanese delicacy.
What Is Roasted Seaweed, aka Nori?
In Japan, nori seaweed used to be the generic term for seaweeds but now stands for the edible seaweed species of Porphyra (red algae, cold water seaweed), according to Wikipedia.
The roasted seaweed product is made by shredding, drying and roasting the nori seaweed, similar to the process of making paper. The end-product is a thin (like paper), black or green sheet of around 18 by 20 cm.
What’s good about this is that not much else is added during the production process, apart from a bit of oil and (sea) salt. So roasted seaweed is basically pure seaweed with very few extra ingredients. It’s a perfect alternative for potato chips.
Health Benefits of Roasted Seaweed
Nori seaweed is actually classified as a vegetable, a sea vegetable that is. Some of us may never have tasted seaweed before but the Japanese have been eating this super food for many centuries now. They appreciate nori as being a food of longevity.
With quite an impressive nutritional profile, here are some of the benefits of eating roasted seaweed:
1. High in iodine
Roasted seaweed (or any type of seaweed for that matter) is a rich source of iodine. Iodine is a mineral that is essential for your metabolism and helps your thyroid gland to function the way it should be. One sheet of nori contains around half of the daily recommended intake of iodine.
2. Source of vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 supports normal functioning of the brain and nervous system and helps form red blood cells. Nori contains 1.2 mg vitamin B12 per 1 sheet.
3. High in potassium
Potassium is a mineral that helps lower your blood pressure and lowers your risk of stroke and heart disease. Nori contains 50 mg of potassium per 1 sheet.
4. Contains protein and fiber
While the amounts are not super high, roasted seaweed does actually contain protein and fiber.
5. Low in calories and saturated fat
Roasted seaweed is incredibly low in calories with one sheet containing only 5 calories. The amount of fat in nori is almost negligible.
6. Delicious taste
Okay this may not necessarily be a health benefit, but the delicious taste of roasted seaweed makes it so much easier to eat as a healthy afternoon snack. The taste is very unique and is hard to compare with anything else.
Where Can You Buy Roasted Seaweed?
Nowadays you should be able to find roasted seaweed in any major supermarket, or at your local Asian grocery store. You can also find it online, on Ebay and Amazon for example. But maybe your best option is to go out to a Japanese restaurant and indulge on some delicious, fresh sushi.
If you get roasted seaweed chips from the supermarket as a snack, make sure you read the label carefully. The list of ingredients should be very small and simple. It should really only contain seaweed, vegetable oil (or any other type of oil) and (sea) salt.
Watch out for extra ingredients such as added sugar or other artificial surprises. I would also recommend organic.
Another thing to watch out for when buying sushi nori, is the color and transparency. There are various types of roasted seaweed and the darker the color and the less transparent they are, the better the quality. Sometimes it pays to spend a little bit more.
How to Eat Roasted Seaweed?
There are different ways to get your roasted seaweed in, and sushi is probably the most popular one. You can get sushi anywhere these days but if you get it as take-away, make sure it’s still fresh. Simply check the color of the ingredients and check if the seaweed still looks crunchy enough.
Another way to eat roasted seaweed is to crumble it to very small pieces and add it to your favorite recipes. You can also sprinkle it over salads for an extra bit of flavor and decoration.
Roasted seaweed also works great as a snack by itself. It’s light, it’s easy to carry around with you, and it’s super delicious. So for your afternoon snack, why not leave your chocolate bar or potato chips at home and try roasted seaweed sheets instead. Roasted seaweed as a snack is known to be irresistible and addictive, so be warned!
Other Types of Edible Seaweed Snacks
Roasted seaweed is just one of many different types of edible seaweeds out there. What are some of the other popular seaweed snacks that are good for us?
Very rich in iodine and calcium, kelp is probably the most popular and most available type of seaweed. Too much iodine however can cause health problems so it’s important to not over-consume kelp.
Arame, also known as sea oak, is a type of kelp. Arama has a brown color and has a mild, sweet flavor, which makes it popular as a side dish.
Kombu is also a type of kelp that can be eaten fresh as sashimi or in a dried form.
Wakama, a dark leafy green, is another popular edible seaweed that you will often find in Japanese recipes. It has a similar nutritional profile as kelp, rich in iodine, calcium and magnesium.
Dulse is a red colored edible seaweed (red algae) and is a very popular snack food. Perhaps not as rich in iodine as kelp is, but it has high amounts of dietary fiber, magnesium and calcium.
Final Thoughts on Nori / Roasted Seaweed
Nori, or any type of seaweed for that matter, is a very nutritious sea vegetable that can be a great addition to your diet. The roasted seaweed version is widely available and is an excellent alternative to other, not so healthy, snacks that you may be eating during the day.
The health benefits of roasted seaweed are actually quite surprising. So if you’ve never eaten nori before, I hope this article has inspired you to try it or any of the other seaweed snacks. You may just find that it’s the perfect afternoon snack for you.