Did you know that Galapagos lizards and our own
Ramsay sheep live on a diet of nothing but seaweed? And in the
Lofoten islands, where the
Seagreens’ whistle wrack (ascophyllum), spiral wrack (fucus)
and channel wrack (pelvetia) are harvested, young wild elk walk miles
down the mountains to eat it - even in mid-summer.
Sea vegetables have long been known to be highly nutritious. However,
the brown Arctic algae seem to be particularly nutrient dense - possibly
because of their growing conditions. Unlike the deep water kelps they
are shallow water weeds so are subject to intense photosynthesis (24
hour sunshine during the summer months), extreme cold in the winter
and the annual ‘culling’ of old seaweeds
by the winter storms.
But whatever the reason Arctic seaweed has more iron than dulse, the
common red seaweed, which in turn has 200 times more iron that the
richest land-grown green,
beet greens. It also has eight times more magnesium and 100 times more iodine
than any land vegetable and 14 times more calcium than cow’s milk. However,
it is arguable that it is not only the quantity of each nutrient in the Arctic
wrack that is important, but that they are ideally balanced for human consumption
- unlike some of the other seaweeds, such as kelp, which has too high an iodine
content to be used on a regular basis.
Arctic wrack also contains a range of multi-purpose polysaccharides, including
mannuric acid, laminarin and fucoidin. They are known to improve the condition
of the gut wall and encourage good gut bacteria. Fucus, in particular, can act
on Helicobacter Pylori (the most common cause of gastritis and peptic ulcer)
to prevent it attaching itself to the gut wall.
They can also detoxify the system by ‘binding to’ and removing heavy
metals like barium, cadmium, lead and mercury.
The polysaccharides also seem useful in treating
candida. Their natural antibacterial and antibiotic properties seem to be effective
against the fungus while their rich iodine content is used by enzymes to produce
iodine-charged free radicals which deactivate yeasts. (Before the arrival of
antifungal drugs iodine was the standard medical treatment for yeasts.)
And yet more... They appear to have roles in the treatment of cancer, the herpes
simplex, herpes zoster and Epstein Barr viruses - and might even be effective
against the AIDs/HIV viruses!
Meanwhile... for readers with multiple food intolerances who struggle to find
ways of keeping up their nutritional profile, a seaweed supplement could be a
good option. Seagreens say that since they first started processing and selling
their wracks in 1998 they have not had a single case of intolerance or biological
rejection reported to them. The wracks are also, of course, free of gluten, dairy
and all of the common allergens.
If you want to know more about the nutritional profile of seaweeds, and the Arctic
wracks in particular, Simon Ranger can point you to over 100 references in his
handbook for healthcare practitioners.
He can also offer you a range of ways in which to imbibe your Arctic wrack -
as granules, capsules or as a ‘culinary ingredient’ - an excellent
alternative to salt for those trying to reduce their salt intake - and for those
who just like the taste!
You can contact him on 01444 400403
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