Sea Lettuce Benefits

Sea Lettuce
Latin Name

Ulva lactuca

Also Known As

Green Laver

Origin

Seas and Oceans worldwide

Parts Used

Whole plant

Traditional Use and Health Benefits

One of the most familiar of the shallow water seaweeds, Sea Lettuce is found in seas and oceans the world over. This bright green seaweed indeed resembles its land-dwelling namesake, with delicate emerald green leaves with ruffled edges.

It is particularly well-known in Scotland and has a long history of traditional use in Japan where it is used to make sushi, flavour soups and many other dishes.

Sea Lettuce Benefits

Thyroid Health

Just one 30g serving of Sea Lettuce provides over 400 percent of the RDI for this important compound. Due to ongoing soil depletion, sea vegetables have long overtaken land vegetables in the iodine department, with Sea Lettuce being no exception. As most people are low in iodine and the RDI is just a recommendation, this boost of iodine will in turn boost one’s health as long as there are no underlying problems with iodine.

Iodine is critical to the thyroid; it forms a part of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) which are used in every cell of the body to regulate metabolism and weight by controlling the burning of fat for energy and heat. These hormones are directly responsible for controlling the body’s “base metabolic rate” which affects the efficiency and efficacy of many of the body’s organ systems, and regular processes including the absorption and biosynthesis of food into usable energy. Iodine is literally "food for the thyroid".

Iodine also displaces dangerous "halides" such as; fluoride, bromide and chlorine in the thyroid. It is antioxidant, promotes proper hormone balance, protects from radiation and kills bacteria and fungi.

When the thyroid is compromised, symptoms can include unexplained weight loss/gain, fatigue, hair loss and dry skin.

Longevity

Sea Lettuce, alongside other sea vegetables, is extremely popular in Okinawa, Japan. The Okinawa Centenarian Study found that the residents of Okinawa are 82 percent less likely than the average American to suffer from coronary heart disease. It attributed this longevity partly to the consumption of these mineral rich sea vegetables.

Liver Health

Sea Lettuce contains natural photosynthetic pigments that give it its lovely green colour. It has a high concentration of a-chlorophyll, b-chlorophyll, xanthophylls, lutein, beta and gamma carotene, siphonxantine and siphonein.

Chlorophyll is a green pigment which is instrumental in photosynthesis. Chlorophyll can protect healthy cells and bodily tissue is by increasing phase II biotransformation enzymes. These promote optimal liver health and therefore the body’s natural elimination of potentially harmful toxins. Some early studies show that chlorophyllin may reduce the risk of liver damage by increasing activity of these phase II enzymes and removing bodily toxins.

Eye Health

Sea Lettuce is extremely rich in vitamin A in the form of beta carotene and gamma carotene, compounds that have been shown to significantly reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

A fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin A also helps to protect the surface of the eye (cornea) and is a component of rhodopsin – a protein in the eye that boosts vision in low light conditions. One of the first symptoms of a deficiency in this important vitamin is “night blindness”, or nyctalopia. Furthermore, vitamin A maintains the integrity of the cells of mucous membranes, including those of the eyes.

Sea Lettuce also contains lutein, which is known to be good for healthy eyesight, reducing free radical damage to the cells of the eyes.

Typical Use

Organic Sea Lettuce

Irish Sea Lettuce makes the perfect addition to soups, chowders, stir fries and stews. Simply add to your favourite dishes.

Folklore and History

Sea lettuce has been traditionally eaten as ‘laverbread’, or bara lawr in Welsh, a traditional Welsh delicacy. After being gathered, the Sea Lettuce is thoroughly washed and cooked until it becomes soft. It is then minced to convert it into a thick black/green paste like texture.

In the early 19th century, laverbread, bacon, mushrooms and sausages became a staple breakfast for hard-working Welsh pitmen who needed plenty of energy. Nowadays, hotel guests across Wales are often greeted with the traditional Welsh breakfast of laverbread and cockles (bara lawr a chocos). 

Welsh chefs use laverbread in recipes that include laver pesto, laver ravioli, black risotto, laverbread dahl and in sauces for canapés. Laver is also a delicacy in Japan where it is mainly used for sushi meals.

Sea Lettuce
Precautions

People with an iodine allergy should not consume seaweed. If you are taking any prescription medications, especially in the case of thyroid disorders, please consult your healthcare professional before consuming Irish Sea Lettuce.

Do not consume 2 weeks before scheduled surgery or in the case of kidney disorders.