Hi my name is David Millard and I have been employed as a Marine Biologist (MSc) since the early 90’s, working closely with the sea, first as a University researcher, then as a commercial diver in the aquaculture industry, followed by a short stint as a private seaweed consultant to my present public servant position that includes farmed seaweed development. I am rarely far from the coast and enjoy nothing more than poking around in rock pools when the tide is low.
I love eating seaweed, whether fresh straight from the shore, dried and sprinkled over food or prepared into meals. As for taste and experience, my preference is straight from rock to mouth, being mindful of potential water quality issues. Focusing on my proximity to nature, being present in this location, I enjoy the available earthly given bounty. We always have a pot of organically grown, dried, milled winged kelp on the dining table and encourage all to use liberally. Why? Well, it’s tasty for one, adding depths of flavor or what is described in Japan as Umami, the fifth taste, which can be translated as delectable. It’s also good for you providing a boost of nutrients, helping to support a healthy body in a myriad of ways.
For millennia people, especially Irish coastal dwellers, have availed of seaweeds as a source of nutrition both as food and medicine.
They are rich sources of vitamins, especially A, B and E and mineral elements accounting for up to 36% of its dry mass including sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, iodine, iron, zinc, copper, selenium, molybdenum, fluoride, manganese, boron, nickel and cobalt. These levels are often ten times as high as terrestrial plants, hence people who regularly eat seaweeds are rarely mineral deficient. They are also good sources of proteins and essential amino acids, between 7-35% by volume, with a large percentage of soluble and insoluble largely indigestible dietary fibre, known to be generally good for digestive health.
A varied diet containing a high percentage of seaweeds promotes health and longevity as shown by numerous studies in Japan, beginning in 1927 when Shoji Kondo of Tohoku University first linked seaweed in the diet and longevity. What is it particularly in seaweeds that we can point to from a Western scientific viewpoint to support these claims? For one the minerals are chelated, meaning they are enclosed within a protein, enzyme or amino acid, allowing the body to recognize the mineral as food rather than as a foreign body. They are also colloidal meaning the minerals are equally distributed in a solution, reportedly, therefore, being easier to absorb.
Taurine is worth mentioning, as an amino acid particularly present in red seaweeds, it assists in the formation of bile, which binds with cholesterol molecules, helping to excrete excess cholesterol. The soluble dietary fibre, which makes up to 50% of the plant is in three forms agar, carrageenan and alginate, has an ability to absorb water in the gut forming a gelatinous mass to aid passage through the digestive system.
One other very interesting component particularly present in brown seaweeds is fucosterol, a bioactive compound that has been shown to be active as an anti-diabetic, anti-osteoporotic, anti-coagulant and anti-oxidant. In addition, plant sterols help lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol in humans. These combined effects of fibre and sterols can lower the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Further combine this with beneficial effects of the presence of omega 3, fatty acid EPA, known to also reduce cardiovascular disease, lowering the occurrence of blood clots whilst inhibiting the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries. Why would you not eat seaweed?
I love eating seaweed and I haven’t even tapped into the entire depth of reasons why it’s a vast subject. I plan to keep investigating and sharing reasons for including seaweed in the diet. I believe and have experienced that they are a rich source of concentrated food source compounds that can bring amazing health benefits.
To keep in touch with all that is seaweed follow me here for now, until I have my own dedicated space. Or meet me and walk the shore on the unique restorative seaweed retreat this January from the 3rd to the 5th in Maghermore, Co. Wicklow, hosted by Shiatsu and Conscious Cooking. Where we will
- Learn to identify safe and useful seaweeds on a Guided Seashore Walk with David Millard
- Conscious Cooking Classes incorporating many different types of seaweed
- Learn to prepare a Seaweed Bath at home
- Reflective Practices, Taoist Energy Exercises and Self Shiatsu
- Rest & restore in the stunning grounds and secluded beach
Contact David Millard regarding Seaweed in Ireland or Joanne Faulkner about the Restorative Seaweed Retreat below
References / Ole G. Mouritsen . Seaweeds: Edible, Available, and Sustainable. 2013 / Sho H. History and characteristics of Okinawan longevity food. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2001./ Miyagi S, Iwama N, Kawabata T, Hasegawa K. Longevity and diet in Okinawa, Japan: the past, present and future. Asia Pac J Public Health. 2003.