Seaweed provides numerous health benefits to your kids. Some of which include strengthening of bones and teeth, acts as a good source of energy, helps in keeping iron deficiency away, has antimicrobial properties and is a good source of essential nutrients.
Are you considering seaweed as an addition to your children’s diet? It may sound rather exotic for young ones, but they could end up loving it, if given a chance. Many children are quite adventurous when it comes to food and may like to try it out, even if it is just once. Others may take a little persuading as it is not a food that they often eat. However, introducing seaweed to your little one’s diet is a great way to teach them about other cultures and give them dishes with a new ingredient that provides many health benefits!
Seaweed Health Benefits for Kids
Seaweed is packed with nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. It is no wonder that it is known as the ‘ancient super food’. It has been used in Chinese cuisine for more than 2000 years and is considered to be one of the perfect foods. Here is a look at some of the benefits that children can gain by eating seaweed:
- Provides essential nutrients: Children are always growing and developing. They need loads of nutrition to be strong and healthy. There are over 21 varieties of edible seaweed. The most common ones are nori, wakame, kelp, laver and dulse. Nori is a great choice for kids as it is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2 and C as well as iodine. It is also a great lean protein source. Dulse is also a great choice of seaweed for little ones as it has a high content of protein, iron, magnesium and beta carotene.
- Helps in formation of blood clots: Seaweed is a rich source of vitamin K which is a nutrient that is fat-soluble. It communicates with platelets, which are cells that form blood clots. Kids often fall down, injuring themselves. Vitamin K benefits them as it helps in sending a chemical signal that makes platelets aggregate to form a blood clot. When blood clots, blood flow from the injury is stopped.
- Helps keep bones and teeth strong: Children need to have healthy bones and teeth. Since seaweed is a rich source of calcium, they can gain this vital nutrient that helps in keeping both their bones and teeth strong and healthy. Calcium is also important as it helps in muscle contraction and proper function of the nervous system. It is also an excellent aide in cell communication.
- Provides energy: Children are active all day, which is why they require so much energy. Seaweed has loads of iron that helps their bodies produce energy for their everyday activities. It also nourishes the circulatory system so that blood flow to tissues is improved.
- Keeps iron deficiency away: Anemia is caused by lack of iron in the body. It comes with low levels of energy, shortness of breath and pale skin. Seaweed is a good way to keep this condition away. Due to the richness of iron in seaweed, iron deficiency in children can be prevented. A cup of wakame or kelp gives 0.8 or 1.1 milligrams of iron respectively.
- Provides dietary fiber: Seaweed is rich in dietary fiber as well. This is an important nutrient for children as well as adult. It provides loads of health benefits. It also helps in regulating bowel movements and prevents constipation.
- Prevents infections: Seaweed has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, it helps in keeping different kinds of infection and allergies away. It benefits children’s skin as well as it prevents inflammation of the skin, itchiness, etc. away.
Other benefits of seaweed include the following:
- Improves memory
- Promotes good eyesight
- Improves the immune system
- Keeps the thyroid system functioning properly
- Keeps heart vessels healthy
- Provides clear skin
- Keeps the digestive system healthy
How to Make Kids Eat Seaweed
Are you thinking about giving your children healthier snacks? Kids love snacking, and who can blame them? Because they are always growing and developing, they need sustenance to help in fueling their growing bodies and minds. Seaweed makes an excellent snack as it is healthier than potato chips and other products that you usually buy for your children to munch on.
Your biggest challenge will be trying to get your little ones to eat seaweed. However, eating habits can be developed at an early age with a little persistence and effort. Here are a few tips that you can use to get your little ones to seaweed:
- Introduce it to them early: Make seaweed a part of your children’s diet at an early age and they will develop a taste for it. They will love it in no time at all! Once you make them eat foods that are processed, it will be tough to get them to stop. This is why you should introduce this wonderful sea veggie to your children early.
- Make seaweed for everyone: A great way to get kids to eat seaweed is to make sure that everyone else in your home eats it too. This way, they will see that everyone enjoys it and they will soon develop a taste for it. It will give your entire family the added nutrition required for healthy bodies.
- Make seaweed a staple at home: Seafood is an excellent source of different nutrients. By making it a staple at home, your children will get used to eating different types of fish, crustaceans as well as sea vegetables like seaweed.
- Dine at Japanese restaurants: If you have family nights when you go out for dinner, try going to Japanese restaurants instead of pizzerias, etc. so that the little ones can experience sushi. Many Asian cuisines use seaweed in their dishes, but to get the unadulterated and rich flavor of seaweed in the best way, there is nothing quite like sushi. Once your children become a fan of sushi, they will definitely take to seaweed too!
- Team up with other parents: If you know other parents who are trying to get their children to eat seaweed too, work with them so that you can all help each other. You can exchange recipes and good ideas on how to incorporate this healthy sea veggie into the foods that your children eat. If your little ones see others eating it, chances are that they will give it a try!
It might be very tough to get your kids to eat seaweed. However, it is important that you do not give up as making sure that they get proper nutrition and develop healthy eating habits should be on top of your list of priorities. Allowing your children to eat unhealthy processed snacks and foods can do a lot of damage to their health in the long run, so do the best you can to make them eat seaweed as often as possible.
Are Seaweed Supplements Good?
For centuries, different types of seaweed have been used in cultures all over the world for medicinal purposes. To give the wonderful benefits of the nutrient-rich food, you can opt for supplements that are available in capsule and tablet form in stores that carry health foods. For example, you can buy your kids kelp capsules that are available as supplements for natural iodine. If you are planning to add seaweed or any other nutritional supplement to your children’s diet, remember that it is important to consult your pediatrician first.
Contents of Seaweed (Raw and Dried)
Seaweed can be found in two basic forms – sun-dried and raw. In both forms, this rich sea plant contains:
- High levels of protein: 20 percent in green algae; 70 percent in spirulina
- High levels of minerals: iron, calcium, iodine and magnesium
- Polysaccharides: helps in preventing degenerative diseases such as Type II diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, improving liver function, raising the amount of good chemicals in the brain and stabilizing blood sugar
- More Vitamin C content than oranges
- Antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties
- High levels of calcium
- High percentage of organic iodine that helps in maintaining healthy function of the thyroid system (this type of iodine should not be mistaken for the toxic type that is added to table salt)
- High Vitamin A and Vitamin B content
- High levels of dietary fiber
- High levels of EPA and alpha lenoleic acid
As you can see, seaweed is rich in a wide variety of nutrients. In fact, it contains more essential nutrients than many fruits and vegetables. What better reason could there be to introduce it to your children’s diet? It is an excellent way to ensure that the different systems and organs function well and stay healthy. It is also a great way to provide your children with all the nutrients required to grow up healthy and strong.
Can seaweed be taken by pregnant women and nursing mothers?
No, it is advisable to stay away from seaweed during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In some Asian countries such as Korea, Japan and some parts of China, it is a practice to take seaweed soup to increase breast milk supply. But today, research says that seaweed has very high iodine content, which is hundreds of times higher than our daily recommended intake. If this is taken during pregnancy or during nursing, it can result in higher iodine content being deposited in the fetus/ infant. This can be very risky and can cause iodine-induced hypothyroidism. Though, iodine content in seaweed can vary among different species, yet it is advisable to look for the specific seaweed and know about its iodine and other harmful contents first before trying them.
Simple Recipes for Homemade Seaweed Snacks
If you want to introduce seaweed as a healthy snack for your kids but do not know where to start, do not worry! All you need is a few easy recipes to help you get started. Keep in mind that these snacks may be simple, but they are delicious and chock full of good stuff! Here are a few recipes to help you out:
Toasted Nori Snack: To make this, you will need:
- Toasted nori – 4 sheets
- Toasted sesame oil
- Sea salt
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Use a pair of sharp scissors and cut the nori into squares. The size that you cut them into depends on your liking. Take a cookie sheet and place the nori onto it. Next, take a pastry brush and coat the seaweed lightly with the toasted sesame oil on both sides. Sprinkle a little bit of sea salt. Now all you have to do is bake them for 15 to 20 minutes. Once they are done, gather the kids and let them enjoy a delicious snack that is packed with a whole lot of goodness!
This snack is a healthier alternative to those yummy salty seaweed snacks that you find in stores. Canola oil is often used to make them and in most cases, this oil is genetically engineered. These snacks are also processed a lot before they are packaged. This is why it is so much better to make your own at home and get everyone to munch on them!
Sesame and Cucumber Seaweed Snack: This is another yummy seaweed snack that is simple to make, and it takes only 20 minutes! You will need:
- Cucumbers – 2, cut into slices of ¼ inches
- Sweet pickled ginger – ½ cup, cut thinly
- Store-bought sesame seaweed snacks – 35-ounce pack, cut into squares of ¾ inches
- Sesame spread
- Tahini – ½ cup
- Fresh lemon juice – ½ teaspoon
- Garlic powder – ¼ teaspoon
- Black and white sesame – 2 tablespoons (for garnish)
- Salt – ½ teaspoon
First, take a small bowl and mix the tahini, garlic powder, lemon juice and salt together. Stir well. Next, take the slices of cucumber and spread ¼ teaspoon of the sesame paste on each one. Now add a bit of your tahini mix on top. You can use as much or as little as you like. Once your cucumber slices are covered with the spread, place a piece of the squared seaweed on top of the paste and gently press it down. Once you have done this on all the cucumber slices, take your ginger slices and add 2 on top of each cucumber. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top for a delicious garnish. Voila! You are done and can bite into this fresh and healthy seaweed snack immediately!
This recipe will be a hit with your children as it is packed with loads of flavor and has lots of crunch, which is something that all kids love!
Do not hesitate to add something as exotic as seaweed to your children’s diet. Its richness in essential nutrients makes it a super food to help young ones grow and develop healthily, both physically and mentally. You can sneak in small amounts to soups, salads, sandwiches, etc. or prepare them as snacks with simple recipes like the ones mentioned above. All the goodness that this wonderful sea vegetable contains is a definite must-have for your growing children.