Wakame Seaweed Salad May Lower Blood Pressure

Wakame Seaweed Salad May Lower Blood Pressure

September 16, 2019 45 By Ewald Bahringer


“Wakame Seaweed Salad
May Lower Blood Pressure” I used to think of seaweed as just a
beneficial whole food source of minerals like iodine, for which it is the most
concentrated dietary source. And indeed, just a half-teaspoon of
mild seaweeds, like arame or dulse or two sheets of nori a day should net
you all the iodine you need for the day. But the intake of seaweeds is advised not
only as a whole food source of iodine, but also, evidently, for the prevention
of lifestyle-related chronic diseases. Based on what? Well, you’ll see this
kind of reasoning: The Japanese live long; they eat
seaweed; and so they speculate that seaweed might have something to
do with it based on suggestive reports. But when you see lists like this of all
the supposed biological activities some food has, you want to know
is this is based on clinical data, meaning on actual people, or so-called preclinical data, based
on test tubes and lab animals? When a study like this is published,
talking about the effects of seaweed-reconstructed
pork diets on rats, what do you do with
that information? Seaweed is one of the ingredients
they’re trying to use to improve the image
of meat products. So they try to add grape seeds,
or flaxseeds, or walnuts, or purple rice, or whatever this is.
I had to look it up: thong-weed. How’s that for an image booster? You can look at epidemiological studies,
meaning looking at populations, and indeed, Japanese pre-schoolers
who eat seaweed tend to have lower blood pressures, suggesting
seaweed might have beneficial effects, which would make sense given
all the minerals and fiber. But you can’t prove cause and
effect with that kind of study. Maybe it was other
components of the diet that went along with
the seaweed eating. It’s even harder to do these
kinds of studies on adults, since so many people are on
high blood pressure medications. University of Tokyo researchers
took an innovative approach by comparing the diets of people
on low-dose, versus high-dose, versus multiple blood
pressure medications. And although they all had artificially
normalized blood pressure, those that ate the most fruit and sea
vegetables tended to be the ones on the lower doses, supporting
a dietary role for seaweed. But why not just
put it to the test? A double-blind crossover trial found that
seaweed fiber lowered blood pressure, apparently by pulling sodium
out of the system. I know they couldn’t
use real seaweed, because then you couldn’t
fool people with a placebo, but why not just put whole
powdered seaweed in pills? Which was apparently finally
attempted 10 years later. Compared to doing nothing, they got
beautiful drops in blood pressure. But if you look deeper into the study,
they desalinized the seaweed, meaning they took out about two-thirds
of the sodium naturally found in it, so that still doesn’t tell us
if eating seaweed salad is actually going to help
with blood pressure. What we need is a randomized controlled
trial with just plain straight seaweed, but no one had ever done that study until…
this study out of Ecuador. Six grams of wakame,
natural sodium and all, led to a significant drop in blood pressure,
especially in those who started out high. Side effects were all minor, and what
one might expect increasing fiber intake, and the nice thing about whole
food, plant-based interventions is you sometimes get good
side effects listings as well, such as the resolution of
gastritis—stomach inflammation that they’d been having—as well as
the disappearance of chronic headaches.