Are Seaweed Snacks Actually Healthy?

Posted on: 10/28/2016 - Viewed: 14140
Are Seaweed Snacks Actually Healthy?

There are few things more frustrating than learning that a food that seems healthy actually isn't. (Soul-crushing spoiler alert: Your lattes and green juices fall under this category.) And yet, this seems to happen more often than not with our favorite tasty treats—we nosh away, thinking, FINALLY! Something munchy and guilt free that doesn't taste like lawn, only to learn later that yes, it really was too good to be true. It's for this reason that we were a bit wary to investigate the actual nutritional profile of seaweed snacks, our favorite afternoon fix of late.

Even if you haven't tried seaweed snacks, it's likely you've seen them before. Touted as a healthier alternative to chips, they're just sheets of dried and roasted seaweed that come with a variety of seasonings and are packaged like crackers. If the thought of eating seaweed when it doesn't surround a sushi roll skeeves you out, don't let it—these are delicious, savory, not at all fishy, and downright addicting. And much to our happiness, they're trendier by the day: Lately, it seems like we can't walk down the snack aisle of our grocery store (or even into the corner bodega) without seeing a whole new crop of brands and flavors. 

So they're probably sneakily terrible for us, right?

To find out, we (somewhat hesitantly) called on nutritionist Keri Glassman for her insight—and were pleasantly surprised (nay, thrilled) when she confirmed that the buzz is justified. "I love them," she says. "They satisfy a salty craving and help many people reap the benefits of sea vegetables who otherwise would not." 

And the benefits abound: Seaweed (and specifically nori, the kind usually used for seaweed snacks) is a cocktail of nutrients, including high levels of vitamins A and C, and calcium. Vegans can rejoice in the fact that it's one of the only natural, non-animal sources of vitamin B-12, which is essential for many cognitive and bodily functions. In addition, sea vegetables tout particularly high amounts of iodine, potassium, selenium, iron, and magnesium—unrivaled by land vegetables, as these minerals are especially concentrated in seawater. Better yet, all of this comes in a very low-calorie package: For example, one bag of SeaSnax's classic Olive Oil flavor has 16 percent and 8 percent of our daily recommended value of vitamins A and C, respectively, at a cost of just 50 calories. And that's for two servings.

Of course, there are some other things to keep in mind before tearing into a dozen packages of SeaSnax in one go. Seaweed is naturally high in sodium, so Glassman advises checking nutrition labels to ensure that there isn't too much additional salt. While you're checking, look out for a couple of other red flags. "Look for brands with a short ingredient list—seaweed, olive or sesame oil, and salt—versus added sugar and artificial ingredients," she says. We've also found that some brands are greasier than others.

But with all this considered, the pros greatly outweigh the cons. "I am a fan," Glassman concludes. "It's a great choice for when you need a salty fix for low calories." We'll mark this as a much-needed healthy snack win.


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