Wrapping up Good Health With Nori

Nori is the Japanese and United States English name for edible red algae of the genus Porphyra, including P. yezoensisP. tenera, and P. umbilicalis. They are members of the Bangiaceae family. Nori is called laver in Wales and most other English-speaking countries. Finished products are made by a shredding and rack-drying process that turns the nori dark green.

The Japanese have eaten nori for more than two thousand years. For much of this time, the harvest was limited to what could be pulled from rocks at low tide. It was a highly prized, expensive food enjoyed by the Japanese nobility. In the Edo era (1603-1868), modern nori was developed. The governing Tokugawa Shogunate saw the revenue potential of nori and began cultivation on nets in Tokyo Bay. Soon, dozens of times the volume of nori previously produced was reaching markets, and nori began to make its way from the banquets of the rich into the hands, and stomachs, of the masses. It was during this time that nori began to be formed into dried sheets using methods similar to those used in Japanese paper-making.

In 1949, a British botanist named Kathleen Drew-Baker discovered the reproductive process of nori. Her discovery made predictable and efficient cultivation of nori possible and turned it into a $2 billion industry.

Nori is an excellent source of iodine, a trace mineral that is converted to iodide by the human body, and stimulates your thyroid to supply hormones necessary for metabolism. Iodine helps inactivate bacteria, maintain a healthy immune system, prevent fibrocystic breast disease, and prevent miscarriages. It also encourages the development of strong nails, teeth, skin, and hair.

Nori is also high in vitamin B6, which is essential for synthesizing protein, DNA, red blood cells, and cell membranes. It’s also important for processing protein, carbohydrates, and fats; for supporting your nervous system; for supporting hormonal balance and detoxification; for protecting your cardiovascular health; for preventing chronic inflammation, supporting cellular regeneration, and fighting disease.

Besides vitamin B6, nori is as an excellent source of thiamine and it has substantial amounts of active vitamin B12, which it obtains from symbiotic bacteria that live on it. (Note that nori is not a reliable source of vitamin B12, so make sure you include a supplement in your routine if you are vegan.) It’s a very good source of riboflavin, and niacin. Because B vitamins play a key role in the metabolism of sugars and starches, they are critical for healthy blood sugar management. And because they play a key role in regulating the amino acid homocysteine, they are critical in heart health has well, because too much homocysteine is a strong risk factor for heart disease.

Nori is rich in copper, which helps produce red and white blood cells and triggers the release of iron to form hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen around your body. It’s also high in manganese, which activates enzymes for using several key nutrients; helps synthesize fatty acids and cholesterol, and facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism and formation of bone. It’s also a good source of chromium, which enhances the actions of insulin; and is necessary for maintaining normal metabolism and storage of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.

It’s about 29% fiber by weight, which lowers your risk of cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Nori is a decent source of magnesium, which helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis.

Nori contains the antioxidants vitamin Avitamin C, and vitamin E. It’s about 29% protein by weight (36% of calories). Your body needs vitamin A for vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes, bone and tooth growth, and immune system health. Vitamin C helps protect your cells from free radical damage, lowers your cancer risk, regenerates your vitamin E supplies, and improves iron absorption. Vitamin E protects your skin from ultraviolet light, prevents cell damage from free radicals, allows your cells to communicate effectively, and helps protect against bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Nori also contains ironpotassiumsodiumphosphoruszinc, and calcium, and contains a small amount of selenium. Along with iodinezinc and selenium are important in balancing your mood by keeping your thyroid, your body’s master mood regular, stable. The high concentration of polysaccharides also enhance the level of endorphins in your brain, and help fight cardiovascular diseases, enhance the effectiveness of your liver, regulate blood sugar. Nori is virtually free of fat, although Just one sheet of nori has the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids as two whole avocados. The omega-3s in nori help create a natural oil barrier on your skin, helping to reduce acne and dry skin, particularly helpful during these dry, heated winter months. Nori also helps reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels.

Nutrients in 7 Grams of Nori (Porphyra umbilicalis)

Nutrient

Amount

Daily Value

iodine

98 µg

65.3%

vitamin B6

0.78 mg

39%

thiamine

0.04 mg

26.7%

vitamin B12

1.23 µg

21%

copper

0.04 mg

20%

riboflavin

0.21 mg

12.4%

manganese

0.24 mg

12%

chromium

10 µg

8.3%

fiber

2 g

8%

magnesium

26 mg

6.5%

vitamin A

300 IU

6%

iron

1 mg

5.6%

potassium

188 mg

5.4%

sodium

113 mg

4.7%

protein

2 g

4%

phosphorus

29 mg

2.9%

niacin

0.41 mg

2.1%

zinc

0.29 mg

1.9%

vitamin C

0.84 mg

1.4%

calcium

13 mg

1.3%

vitamin E

0.36 IU

1.2%

Calories

22

1.1%

carbohydrates

3 g

1%

selenium

0.2 µg

0.3%

fat

0.1 g

0.2%

You may be familiar with nori as the wrapping for sushi; however, you can also enjoy it as is, toast it, or even make a paste out of it to serve over rice or pasta.

To make your own simple sushi: Cover an open sheet of nori with cooked short-grain brown rice mixed with a little seasoned (sweetened) rice vinegar. Then add shredded carrots, thinly sliced avocado, and any other raw vegetable that strikes your fancy. Roll it up, slice it and dip in wasabi, soy sauce, mustard, ginger sauce, or whatever else you like.

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