Is Korean Seaweed Healthy? (Nutritional Value)

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Korean cuisine is full of healthy options. They have even devised a way to make snacking healthier too. 

This is particularly true in regards to seaweed.

But is Korean seaweed healthy? Yes, Korean styles of seaweed can be very healthy. They often put it in soup and other traditional dishes. However, there are seaweed snacks. 

While these are often healthy, the ingredients used to make them can cause some concern.

Even still, seaweed has been a favorite green leafy veggie the world over, with its health benefits touted for centuries. 

Every home in Korea serves seaweed in some way, shape, or form.

Let’s dive deeper.

About Korean Seaweed

Seaweed is a staple in many Korean homes. It’s highly nutritious, packed with vitamins, and helps improve many health conditions. 

Seaweed cleans the blood, improves digestion, mitigates heartburn, and helps support prime brain function.

Ideal for Everyone

This translates to seaweed being a must-have for pregnant women and students throughout Korea. 

It helps with milk production and provides the electric synapses required for important exams. 

Seaweed is excellent for children’s growing bodies and for maintaining healthy organs in the elderly. To the Koreans, no life is right without it.

They serve it in a myriad of ways as well. They often make soups with raw, plain types. However, there are seaweed snacks too. 

This bake or fry in oil followed by seasoning with a plethora of spices. 

While both types are healthy, the raw and fresh kind is the healthiest of the two.

Nutritional Value of Korean Seaweed

Korean seaweed is an excellent food for those looking to eat more sensibly. It’s full of things like vitamin A, B12, C, E, and K, along with sodium, iodine, zinc, calcium, and manganese. 

These work together for strong bones and a healthy immune system.

Seaweed can help the body fight off colds and flu while maintaining hydration and processing antioxidants. 

This is best when the seaweed is part of a stew or soup, particularly during the hot, sticky days of summer.

While it may seem counterintuitive, Koreans are big fans of eating soup in summer to stave off heat exhaustion.

What makes it great for losing weight is how rich it is in fucoxanthin. 

This boosts metabolism, which helps burn off excess fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. 

However, the preferred way to eat seaweed in Korea is the dried, seasoned kind as a snack.

Seaweed Snacks

Unfortunately, this can be unhealthy. However, it depends on the makeup of the ingredients.

If it’s only sesame oil with a light dusting of salt, it can be very healthy in modest amounts. 

However, if they are slathered in vegetable oil and come with onion powder, garlic powder, sugar, salt, pepper, and other things, this can be counterintuitive to eating well.

For the raw seaweed sheets without salt or seasoning, there is about one gram each of carbohydrates and protein without any amount of fat. 

These have 10 calories in one serving. 

However, for the seasoned snacks, the amounts can be as high as 25 calories in one serving with 5 grams of fat, two grams of protein, and three grams of carbs.

Evaluating Seaweed Nutrition

So, while seaweed snacks have the potential to be unhealthy, a one-serving package will not ruin a diet.

It’s good for losing weight, maintaining a healthy weight, or just observing better eating habits. It can replace things like potato chips too.

However, if you want to avoid any amount of fat or sodium, your best bet is to go with raw, unseasoned, and dried seaweed. 

This is ideal for topping rice bowls, noodle dishes, and soups along with sandwiches, wraps, and salads.

Classic Korean Seaweed Soup Recipe

For the healthiest way to eat Korean seaweed, you have to try a bowl of the traditional Korean Seaweed Soup, called Miyeokguk (or Mi-yuk Gook). 

If you don’t have a local restaurant that serves it, you can make it home. 

While it is a very easy and simple recipe, you may need to make a trip to a Korean market for the seaweed.

But, take note that the soup has an acquired taste and may be off-putting at first. However, the health benefits pale in comparison to anything else. 

This dish is low in carbs, fat, cholesterol, and sodium. If sodium is a concern for your diet, you have the ultimate control over how much goes into this soup.

Items You’ll Need

  • Large Bowl
  • Strainer or Colander
  • Large Boiling or Stock Pot
  • Large Spoon or Ladle

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Dried Seaweed (specifically for Miyeokguk)
  • 6 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth
  • 2 tsp Sesame Oil
  • 1 tsp Garlic (minced)
  • Soy Sauce, Salt and/or Ground Black Pepper (to taste)

Directions

  1. Soften the seaweed by soaking it in water for two hours in a large bowl.
  2. With the strainer or colander, drain the water and rinse well, ensuring all dirt and debris comes off.
  3. Put the seaweed, broth, garlic and soy sauce (salt and/or pepper) into the boiling pot and put the stove on high heat.
  4. Once the soup reaches a good boil, about 15 to 20 minutes, turn the heat down to low and simmer for about five minutes. This allows the flavors to infuse every inch of the soup.
  5. Enjoy with a side of rice or put some rice into your bowl.

Conclusion

Korean seaweed is incredibly healthy. It provides a host of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients along with antioxidants that can assist with so many problems, issues, and concerns. 

It cleans the blood, regulates digestion, helps with the absorption of other minerals, and detoxifies the body in general.

For pregnant women, it’s a must-have because it helps with the baby’s development and assists with milk production. 

The elderly love it because it keeps their systems in good working order. Students eat it often to give their brains a boost for their studies. It’s a worry-free and guilt-free food.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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