Seaweed: Why you need to include this super food into your health & beauty routine
We all know the benefits of being beside the seaside; however it’s the slimy stuff underfoot that’s being heralded as a new super ingredient
Not only that, but by including it in your London lunch repertoire too it can help to supplement your intake of vitamins, minerals, fibre and electrolytes – meaning it can help you feel fuller for longer while by boosting nutrients, along with good gut bacteria.
Oh, and it’s sustainable too.
There’s a whole host of products to try now – so let’s dive right in…
Why is seaweed so supercharged?
Fiona Houston and Xa Milne founded the Mara Seaweed brand in 2013. Milne says, “seaweed contains a unique combination of all 56 vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and trace elements essential for human health, absorbed directly from sunlight and the ocean – more nutritionally potent than any land vegetable.
The nutrients enable each other to perform at their best. For example, calcium needs potassium and magnesium for natural absorption: seaweed is high in both. Iron is also more easily used by the body in the presence of vitamin C, and guess what? Seaweed contains both. Plus it doesn’t need soil, fertiliser or fresh water, no intensive farming required, it absorbs carbon dioxide and releases oxygen and is fast-growing and nutrient-dense.” That’s got to be a win-win.
The Londoner’s guide to upping your seaweed intake
Nutritionist Fiona Lawson, who is working with Itsu, the healthy Asian-inspired food chain shares the lowdown on why this seafaring vegetable is a good fast food.
Culture Whisper: Why has seaweed become the new IT food?
Fiona Lawson: We’re all waking up to the importance of gut health, and the value of eating a wide variety of foods. Seaweed is not only a bit different and interesting, but it also offers bioactive compounds that simply aren’t available in land-grown plants.
CW: How can we incorporate it easily into our day-to-day life?
FL: One of the great things about seaweed is its versatility. Wakame is tasty as a side dish to meat and fish, while dried hijiki is perfect in a poke bowl. You can tear Itsu Crispy Seaweed Thins and add them to soups or salads, or they’re delicious wrapped around some avocado slices for a filling snack.
CW: What are the health benefits of seaweed
FL: From dulse to kelp, and arame to laver, there are many edible species of seaweed. Eat a variety and you’ll get a wide range of minerals, including calcium, magnesium and metabolism-supporting iodine. Emerging research suggest you may also benefit from special bioactive compounds in seaweed, which in animal studies have been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.
The best seaweed skincare products to try now
The story of La Mer has been well documented, but little known is, the brand doesn’t just use extracts but ferments several different types of seaweed for their famous ‘Miracle Broth’. The primary version is giant kelp called Macrosys pyrifera, which is the best quality and they harvest it by hand, put it on ice and then it’s shipped straight to the labs. Check out their new supercharged potion, The Regenerating Serum, that’s re-launching in September - it revs up cell renewal and can combat redness, preserve collagen and offer firmer, smoother skin.
If you’re looking for something a little more home grown, then Crème du Loch is an affordable alternative. It came after a year of research and not only embraces sea kelp from the Scottish lochs but also contains skin-refining retinol. We have to admit the formula is satisfyingly rich and luxurious but sinks in incredibly well. Skin definitely looks fresher by morning.
Another brand that harvests from our shores, incidentally only an hour or so from London is Haekels — founded in 2012 by volunteer beach warden and coastal enthusiast Dom Bridges. Dom would collect seaweed and local botanicals along the Margate coast and bring them back to his family kitchen to experiment, coming up with dynamic formulas that honour the sea too. He says, “Our products are also backed with data tested on us to ensure effectiveness. We want to challenge synthetics not only through our olfactory experiments but also our skin, hair and body care has to be worthwhile to be relevant.”
They have loyalty programmes, refillable beauty stations and if you collect rubbish from Walpole Bay, they’ll give you a free Bladderwrack Body Cleanser; so literally it's from ocean to ocean.
The bottom line is seaweed is a brilliant anti-inflammatory, skin-soothing and non-agitating ingredient – so even if you don’t suffer from a specific skin complaint, but are looking for positive skin changes – you should definitely embrace the algae.
La Mer The Regenerating Serum, £275
Haeckels Seaweed + Salicylic Powder Exfoliant, £27
Crème du Loch Daily Moisturiser, £49
The Seaweed Bath Co at Amazon, from £11.53