Bladderwrack: The Ocean’s Greatest Source of Iodine

BladderwrackBladderwrack, also called rockweed, black tang, red fucus, and various other names, is an edible brown seaweed that grows along the coasts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and the North and Baltic seas. Like many other seaweeds such as kelp, nori, and kombu, bladderwrack is beloved – especially in East Asia – for its medicinal properties. Indeed, it was the original source of iodine in Europe, and was used in the early nineteenth century to treat goiter, a swelling of the thyroid gland caused by an iodine deficiency.

List of Health Benefits

Rich in iodine – Since bladderwrack was Europe’s original source of iodine, it makes sense to start by pointing out this seaweed’s incredible iodine content. Indeed, 50 grams of bladderwrack contain more than 100 percent of our recommended daily intake of this essential, thyroid-regulating mineral – more than any other seaweed. Moreover, the organic iodine present in bladderwrack is more easily absorbed than the inorganic form found in iodized salt and other iodine-enriched products.

Protection from radioactive iodine – Bladderwrack is able to protect the thyroid from absorbing cancer-causing radioactive iodine in the event of a nuclear disaster, such as the one that befell Fukushima in 2011. This is because the organic iodine found in the seaweed binds with, and fills, the thyroid gland’s receptors, thereby preventing radioactive iodine from doing the same. This should be viewed as a short-term solution, however, since excessive iodine consumption can lead to thyroid dysfunction.

High in fiber – All sea vegetables are great sources of soluble fiber, and bladderwrack is not an exception. Comprised of between 20 and 40 percent fiber (mostly in the form of alginic acid, mucilage, and fucoidan), bladderwrack is a great choice for people suffering from constipation, as well as a good weight loss food since its high fiber content (which helps you feel fuller for longer) is coupled with no fat and few calories. Moreover, soluble fiber also coats the digestive tract and protects it from damage by refluxed stomach acid. For this reason, bladderwrack extracts are often found in health supplements for heartburn treatment (heartburn being a symptom of acid reflux or GERD).

Zeaxanthin – One of the most interesting names in bladderwrack’s extensive list of trace minerals is zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin is what gives the macula of our eyes its yellow color, and this natural carotenoid – also found in leafy green vegetables, fruits, and egg yolks – helps to guard the eye from oxidative and light-induced harm. A lack of zeaxathin (along with its fellow eye-based antioxidant, lutein) can lead to macular degeneration, so it’s important to regularly eat foods that contain it.

Fucoidan – Bladderwrack contains impressive levels of fucoidan, a sulfated polysaccharide that exists in the cell walls of most brown algae. According to a May 2003 study by researchers Maruyama, Tamauchi, Hashimoto, and Nakano, fucoidan has the ability to inhibit tumor growth. Another study has shown that fucoidan possesses anti-viral properties. These benefits, coupled with the fact that fucoidan regulates the production of AP-I (which, in turn, regulates cell proliferation), makes bladderwrack and other fucoidan-rich foods highly effective at combating cancer.

Aside from the nutrients mentioned above, bladderwrack also contains varying levels of calcium and magnesium (needed for superior bone health), protein (needed for cell growth and repair), and numerous trace minerals such as potassium, zinc, selenium, iron, chlorophyll, phosphorous, bromine, and the much-needed antioxidant vitamin C.

 

Recommended Articles

Honey on Face

Four Surprising Uses for Honey Outside the Kitchen

Honey has always been held in high regard by natural health researchers, and for good reason. This sweet yellow liquid, which is made by honey bees from nectar, is packed with essential nutrients and disease-fighting antioxidants. Raw, unprocessed honey is especially nutritious and makes a great natural alternative to refined sugar, aspartame, and other toxic sweeteners.While honey … Read more

Syrup Selection

A List of the Best Substitutes to Molasses

Although molasses is an extremely healthy sugar substitute that has been a staple in the American diet since pilgrims first visited the continent, it is certainly an acquired taste. Depending on the type of molasses you've tried, you might find it too sweet, too sour, too sugary, too rich, or simply just too difficult to obtain in the region in which you live. Fortunately, there are … Read more

Asparagus

Three Foods That Can Treat Kidney Disease and Boost Renal Function

Every year, more than 100,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with kidney disease, a serious, life-threatening condition in which the kidneys can no longer filter waste products from the blood. The National Kidney Foundation estimates that one in three American adults is currently at risk of developing kidney disease, and those odds increase to one in two over the course of a … Read more

Chopping Kale

A List of Foods Rich in Vitamin K: From Kale to Spring Onions

Vitamin K is the name given to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that are primarily responsible for aiding blood clot formation in our bodies. In fact, the reason why vitamin K was never named vitamin F (the next logical step after vitamin E) was to emphasize its central role in blood health: the "K" actually stands for "koagulation," the German word for "clotting."In healthier times, … Read more