You know by now that Skelly and I are big fans of leafy green vegetables. But there’s another family of veggies we love just as much for bone health – maybe even more.
Know why? These veggies can have almost 10 times the amount of calcium as milk does. And unlike milk they also have all of the other trace minerals a body needs for strong bones. In fact, they can have 10 to 20 times the amount of bone-friendly minerals as other vegetables.
Besides calcium, sea vegetables are rich in iron, phosphorus, copper, potassium, boron, zinc, and over 30 other minerals. You can’t find many foods with such a broad range of minerals. And that’s important because no one mineral makes your bones strong. It’s the balance of all essential minerals that builds up bone.
Seaweed also contains lots of magnesium, a mineral that helps alkalize your body.
That’s important since so many common foods increase the acid in your body. And when your blood becomes too acidic it leaches calcium from your bones to calm things down. That calcium drain can leave you with weak bones.
That’s why when we eat acid-forming foods like sugar, coffee, alcohol and grains, we need to balance them out. Adding seaweed to a meal is an easy way to do that. It’s one of the best alkalizing foods on the planet.
And research shows eating seaweed builds a strong skeleton. A study in Taiwan found that women who eat seaweed two or more times per week significantly lowered the risk of osteoporosis.
In Asia sea vegetables can make up 10 to 15% of the diet. But here in the West we don’t eat nearly enough of them.
But before you run down to the beach to catch some washing ashore, you need to know this.
Seaweed is harvested from these plants growing under water.
Green sea lettuces grow in shallow water near the shore.
Brown seaweeds grow about a hundred feet below the surface.
Red seaweed grows up to 400 feet deep. They all have benefits.
But the stuff floating on the surface isn’t edible. It’s dead and decaying. Don’t go there.
Look for dried seaweed in your health food store. Some of the varieties I like are kombu, nori, wakame, and hijiki. Here are some of my favorites.
I used to buy seaweed harvested from Japan. But since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, I look for seaweed from Maine, Canada, or Iceland.
And be patient. It might take a little while to develop a taste for sea vegetables. According to Paul Pitchford, you have to give your body time to adjust to the taste. After a bit your body starts to produce the enzymes needed to break down the seaweed. That’s when you start to really enjoy it. You might even crave it.
Start by including seaweed in your bone broth, stocks, soups, and stews. When I cook brown rice or quinoa I break up pieces of kombu and cook it with the grains.
You can also add a quarter teaspoon of kelp or dulse flakes to your smoothies in the morning. Or to a bowl of soup.
And look for nori snacks. Skelly loves them!
Me and Skelly love this recipe from Laura Parisi's Kitchen
Hiziki with Sweet Vegetables
- ¼ cup of Hiziki, soaked (this is a detox veggie)
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 burdock root and carrot cut in matchsticks
- 1 ear of corn, kernels off the cob (or substitute organic frozen)
- 1 tbsp. Seasame oil
- 2 tbsp. Shoyu (or Braggs, or soy sauce, or Tamari)
- 1 tbsp. Mirin
- ½ cup of water
Layer onion, hiziki, carrot, burdock root and corn in a pan.
Mix oil, water, mirin and shoyu together and add to the pan.
Bring to a high heat.
Cover and lower to medium/low for 20 minutes or until all the liquid is evaporated.
Hijiki (he-JEE-key) is one of the most nondairy sources of calcium available. It has a strong character that is tamed by soaking it a minimum of 20 minutes and discarding the soaking water or cooking it in apple juice, which mellows the deep flavor that often discourages newcomers to this powerful sea veggie. It may sound like an odd combination, but the final product has not distinct apple flavor. Hijiki is delicious with such strong seasoning as sautéed garlic, shallots, ginger, shoyu, and tamari. Since this sea veggie is tougher and thicker and has a more robust flavor than most of the others, introduce it to new palates by chopping it finely and adding it to other dishes simply as an ingredient.
Nutritional value: High in vitamin A, iodine, iron, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, copper. From Jill Gusman’s Vegetables from the Sea.
Burdock (Gobo) acts upon the lungs, stomach, kidney and liver. It stimulates the bile secretion and is an excellent source of the nutraceutical insulin, making it good for diabetic conditions. Burdock is one of the great alternative herbs, restoring the body to normal health by cleansing and purifying the blood. Supporting digestion and the elimination of toxins, and helping to restore normal body function.
When it comes to choosing the right foods to optimize your bone health, what is the single biggest challenge, frustration or problem you’ve been struggling with?
Please let me know so I can write content that meets your needs.
Plus I have wonderful alkaline salad dressing waiting for you on the other side to thank you for your time 🙂.
From my bones to yours,
Wahls M.D., Terry; Eve Adamson (2014-03-13). The Wahls Protocol: A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles (p. 169). Penguin Group US.
Shaw CK. “An epidemiologic study of osteoporosis in Taiwan.” Ann Epidemiol. 1993 May;3(3):264-71.
Paul Pitchford, Healing with Whole Foods: Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition, 2002, North Atlantic Books.