Seaweeds may look unattractive and unappetizing, but they are truly a super food and one of nature’s nutritional wonders. Aonori, also known as green laver is a type of green seaweed that is cultivated in certain areas of Taiwan and Japan. This edible seaweed is a rich source of various nutrients and its dried form is used widely by the Japanese in preparing soups, tempura and many other dishes. The benefits of aonori just don’t end with basic nutrition. It is also beneficial in protecting your body against many types of diseases including cancer. In fact, Japan’s conspicuously low incidence of the diseases can be attributed to the high consumption of seaweed by its people.
Nutritional profile of Aonori
Aonori is filled with minerals, antioxidants and a wide range of vitamins. It is rich in vitamins like A, C, E, K and B complex vitamins like B1, B2, Niacin, B6, B12 and folate. Aonori contains an impressive list of minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, selenium, chromium and molybdenum. In addition to these minerals, it is also an extraordinary source of iodine, which when consumed in healthy levels helps in maintaining a healthy thyroid. Aonori is a great source of dietary fiber that helps improve digestion and control cholesterol levels in the body. It also provides a good amount of healthy fats called omega-3 fatty acids that helps to increase the levels of healthy HDL cholesterol and lower the levels of harmful LDL cholesterol. This type of fat also helps in reducing inflammation in the body.
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Health benefits of Aonori
Sea greens such as Aonori are the most nutritionally dense foods found on the planet. It contains more vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, amino acids, and dietary fiber than any other vegetable available. As such, the consumption of this wonder food offers several health benefits, a few of which are listed below:
Aonori is great for digestive health
According to scientists, seaweed contains high level of dietary fiber that helps strengthen gut mucus, protect the gut wall, improve the process of digestion and make food release its energy more slowly because of its low glycemic index value. The intake of aonori helps increase the amount of good bacteria in the gut and maintain the acid-alkaline balance. It also stimulates the production of digestive enzymes, promotes metabolism and absorption of nutrients.
Aonori protects against cancer
Studies indicate that seaweeds and the extracts obtained from them may have the ability to inhibit or even treat cancer. The antioxidant compounds found in them inhibits the development of the tumor and the maintenance of the blood vessels that are required by the tumors to grow. Aonori is high in plant substances known as lignans, that gets converted into phytoestrogens in the body. These phytoestrogens help in blocking the chemical estrogen that can increase the risk of cancers such as breast cancer.
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Aonori purifies the blood
Seaweeds have a chemical composition that is very much similar to blood plasma in human beings and is found to have the ability to purify blood. It alkalizes the blood and helps in getting rid of toxins such as harmful salts, radiation, pollutants and heavy metals like mercury.
Aonori improves thyroid health
Inadequate amounts of the mineral iodine in the body is often associated with thyroid problems. Iodine is used by various thyroid hormones to regulate the development of the fetus, postnatal growth, and the daily body metabolism. Eating foods rich in iodine such as aonori is a great way to keep your thyroid gland function at its best.
Aonori helps you lose weight
Incorporating aonori in your regular diet is an effective way to lose weight. This seaweed contains a special type of dietary fiber, which according to scientists has the ability to prevent the absorption of fat by the body. The fiber blocks the action of a digestive enzyme known as pancreatic lipase, which results in reduced fat breakdown and lower fat absorption by the body. Seaweeds thus have the potential to be used as a natural means of anti-obesity treatment.
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Aonori protects your heart
Aonori contains a certain type of protein known as bioactive peptide that has the ability to lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol and prevent strokes and heart attacks. It is also a great source of healthy essential fatty acids, which play a key role in reducing thrombosis and atherosclerosis – two important factors vital for reducing the risk of heart disease. Seaweeds also contain nutrients like beta carotene and thiamine, both of which show potent antioxidant effects. These nutrients are helpful for maintaining the overall health of the blood and in promoting better blood circulation. Aonori also possess anti-coagulant or blood thinning properties that prevent the formation of blood clots, which in turn reduces the risks of conditions like blockage of veins and arteries, stroke, and cardiac failure.
Aonori is a great detox food
In addition to being a storehouse of minerals and other essential nutrients, the sodium alginate or algin found in seaweeds, absorbs the harmful toxins from the digestive tract. Green seaweeds like aonori is rich in chlorophyll, which has strong detoxifying properties. The special fibers contained in chlorophyll bind to these wastes and toxins and removes them from your body. In this way, aonori supports the liver with the process of detoxification.
Aonori helps balance your hormones
Aonori is a natural source of iodine that helps in regulating and improving the functioning of the thyroid gland, which in turn helps increase your metabolism as well as balance your hormones. The high fiber content in anonori is found to be beneficial in promoting and improving estrogen metabolism. The intake of aonori may also help in controlling PMS in women and improving female fertility problems.
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Aonori offers benefits for your skin
Seaweed is one of greatest treasures that nature offers for improving your skin health. The nutritionally dense aonori is of no exception either. It has been used for moisturizing, toning, repairing and rejuvenating the skin. Aonori has strong antioxidant properties and is an ingredient in many cosmetic products such as night creams, facial serums, eye creams etc. The antioxidant property makes this seaweed a great anti-aging remedy. It helps protects the cell membranes by reinforcing them and by preventing free radical damage that accelerate the process of aging. It has been found that the extract obtained from seaweeds are capable of reversing cell damage and restoring them back in to their normal healthy state. Highly rich in nutrients, aonori can be eaten or applied on the skin as an exfoliant or as a strengthening agent. Aonori has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the inflammation due to acne. It’s exfoliant effect helps remove the dirt dead skin cells, which can block pores of the skin. Seaweed baths are very popular in spas and this process is beneficial in cleansing and detoxifying the skin. Aonori can also make your skin more elastic and more supple, which help in fighting off cellulite.
Aonori makes your hair healthier
The health of your hair depends to a large extent on the food you eat. A healthy and well balanced diet is essential for maintaining healthy and beautiful hair. Incorporating nutritionally dense foods like aonori is a great way to boost the health of your hair. In fact, seaweeds like aonori alone contains many of the important nutrients needed for hair growth. You can also use aonori topically by simply massaging it into your scalp. This helps in nourishing your hair follicles and making each hair strand stronger. Deficiency of iodine is considered to be one of the many factors that can cause hair loss. Because aonori contains high levels of iodine, it not only prevents hair loss but also stimulates hair growth. It also has antimicrobial properties and so when applied on the scalp, aonori helps in preventing dandruff and other scalp infections.
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Aonori promotes dental health
According to scientists, the microbes found on the surface of seaweed has the ability to fight against tooth decay. Studies indicate that the enzyme isolated from these microbes disintegrates and eliminates the bacteria found in plaque. It also helps in preventing the build up of plaque. Researchers suggest that adding this enzyme in smaller quantities in toothpaste can help in cleaning teeth more effectively and also in preventing dental health problems such as tooth decay.
Aonori for healthy eyes
With proper nutrition, it is possible to maintain healthy eyes. Seaweeds such as aonori are good sources of Vitamin A (beta carotene) and bioflavonoids. Foods rich in vitamin A is essential for improve vision, preventing dry eyes and night blindness. These nutrients with their antioxidant effects help prevent eye disorders like cataract and macular degeneration. The bioflavonoids in them help in preventing inflammation of ocular tissues. Aonori, with its richness of nutrients can help maintain proper eye health by promoting the normal functioning of the eye and preventing infections.
Seaweeds like aonori happen to be one of the most nutritionally rich plants on the earth as they contain almost all the nutrients found in the ocean. Being a super food, the consumption of a little amount of aonori goes a long way in providing the daily requirement values of nutrients. If you have never eaten seaweeds, then you are definitely missing out on all its amazing benefits. Not everyone likes the taste of this wonderful seaweed but the nutritional and health benefits of eating it will certainly outweigh its taste.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Drypot