In my house you cannot miss three types of algae: nori, to make sushi (or in an appetizer format, as sold by Mercadona, with sesame and in strips, yum); kombufor when I make miso soup, and wakame, almost for everything: miso, a Japanese salad, a lentil salad… And we don’t just eat these algae because we love its flavor. It is also that we have been hearing for many years that algae are a very healthy food; more than that: a superfood.
Although each seaweed is different (come on, they do not have the same virtues as each other), in general they stand out for their content vitamin A, C, D, E, B1, B2, match, potassium, iron, iodine, fiber, sodium and small amounts of vegetable proteins easily assimilated, as Sha Wellness Clinic reminds us. They also have a lot of calcium (up to 10 times more than milk, almost nothing), they are very satiating but have few calories and anti-inflammatory properties are attributed to them, among others (this garden, that of the ‘properties’ of food in which should move with caution).
Well, the nutritionist Julio Basulto, in his latest bestseller ‘Come mierda’ (ed. Vergara) he puts them directly as an example of food whose frequent consumption, despite its reputation for being healthy, being taken directly from nature and being marketed with little manipulation by the food industry , “can cause iodine toxicity.
Well, what a bummer.
“A single gram of the kombu seaweed or sea grass multiplies by 5 and by 8, respectively, the maximum limit of iodine consumption established by the health authorities”, adds Basulto, before affirming that something similar “happens with other algae such as wakame, nori, dulse, etc.”.
After citing several international investigations that point to the toxicity of certain algae, Basulto recalls that the very Ministry of Health Spanish advises avoid consumption of algae “in minorsin pregnant or lactating women, as well as in people with thyroid dysfunction or who consume medicines with iodine”. Basulto agrees with the Ministry, but… it seems to him insufficient advice “because these foods, in addition to iodine, tend to accumulate high doses of arsenic Y other contaminants. There may be some safe algae (without excess iodine or arsenic), but given the possibility of making a mistake in the choice and knowing that algae have not proven to be beneficial or necessary, I think it is not worth taking the risk. The best is don’t eat them.”
Disappointed, I ask Julio Basulto: When I was little the olive oil, the sardines and the eggs were demonized. Now it is the turn of the algaethe meat and the fish. In the midst there has been talk of pests about sugar, rice, milk, wheat… In the absence of more (independent) research, wouldn’t the best dietary strategy be to eat a little of everything to spread the risk?
“Eating a bit of everything made sense in the days of Great Covian. But today it is a strategy that clearly increases the risk of obesity”, he replies; “and as for the fact that the nutritionists we change from opinion, I think it’s actually good news: messages get better over time, thanks to scientific advances. Be that as it may, the message ‘Eat a more low-processed, plant-based diet’ hasn’t changed one iota in the last 40 years.” Except for algae, of course.