Are you eating the right nori? Japan is a seaweed-loving country. Did you know that one of the reasons why the Japanese diet is healthy is because we eat seaweed regularly? Seaweeds are high in minerals, low in calories, and are quite alkalising. Some seaweeds even contain very unique dietary fibres – both insoluble and soluble – that help cleanse our gut fabulously!
Stay tuned, as I’m about to share the incredible benefits of Nori and some tips to avoid falling into the trap of consuming the wrong kind!
One of the reasons for the longevity of the Japanese population is their regular seaweed intake!
We eat several types of seaweed such as wakame, nori, hijiki, konbu, and mozuku! People who live near the sea (like my grandparents), eat even more different types of seaweed – we find rare seaweed that many shops in Osaka don’t sell.
I love seaweed and eat it almost every day. I can confidently say that, even at 50, I don’t need to dye my hair (I have some grey hairs but no need to dye it) thanks to my high consumption of seaweed.
My Favourite Seaweed – NORI!
My most consumed seaweed is NORI. I love it so much that sometimes I eat three or more entire sheets per meal! I think I could be the highest Nori consumer in Sydney… and maybe the top 100 in Japan! My mum always buys lots of Nori whenever I go back to Japan, or when she sends me a box filled with food, she always includes it. That is how much I love Nori!
What’s in Nori?
Nori, a dried edible seaweed made from red algae called Porphyra, is a powerhouse of multivitamins commonly used to make sushi rolls and rice balls. It has a lot of health benefits due to its…
- High in Protein: up to 50% dry weight of nori is made up of protein – the highest of all seaweeds!
- High in amino acids level – the highest of all seaweeds!
- The highest vitamin A (beta-carotene) content of all seaweeds!
- Rich in good oils and the highest EPA (one of Omega 3 oils) in all seaweeds!
- Rich in iodine – supporting healthy thyroid function
- Rich in minerals, iron, folic acids, calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, phosphorus, copper, and manganese
- Rich in vitamins C, E, U, B1, B2, B3, B6 and B12
- Rich in dietary fibre: about 35% of dietary fibre in the dry weight, aiding digestion, preventing constipation, and can contribute to a sense of fullness, thus helping weight loss.
- Antioxidant-rich – nori is a fantastic source of beta-carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and taurine, preventing cardiovascular disease and promoting heart health
Nori is truly a Japanese superfood, isn’t it?!
1. Make sure to buy “roasted nori”
According to research, only Japanese can digest untoasted nori properly due to a special bacteria in their guts to help them digest sushi. So instead, opt for “roasted Nori” for better digestion.
Got the untoasted one? Don’t worry, you can simply toast it over a gas flame! This method is useful when your nori is getting stale
When you toast it, the nori sheet becomes crisp, bright and fragrant! Yum!
You can also try my Korean-style nori recipe below.
Left: toasted nori (gets a slightly green colour); Right: untoasted nori (has a black colour)
2. Pick the right nori!
Make sure to choose nori from Japan and don’t settle for cheap nori because you need to watch out for nori that contains INK! Yack!
Unfortunately, it is very hard to buy nori from Japan – even when the package is written in Japanese, most of the time it’s still not a product of Japan.
I have a terrible story from more than 10 years ago… Nori isn’t cheap even in Japan, so when I saw 50 sheets of nori for $20 (extremely cheap!), I had to buy it. The packaging was written in Japanese and I bought it at an Asian grocery store run by Japanese. But when I ate a nori sheet, it tasted wrong… I tasted chemicals and no umami flavour, so I looked at the sheet closely and what I saw was GREEN POWDER! I could not believe it! My wild guess is they mix nori seaweed, paper and ink to make new sheets. Since then I have been very careful…
But another horrible thing happened during the lockdown time. I was doing online shopping to buy my favourite Japanese vegetables, and I was checking what else I could buy to get free shipping. Then I saw nori from Ariake (which is famous for nori in Japan) was on sale, so I bought it. Again, when I ate it, it was also chemically flavoured (I could not see the ink powder but nori was greener than my usual toasted nori). When I looked at the packet, I realised it wasn’t a product of Japan and that this nori was specifically made for a popular nori roll franchise in Sydney. Since then, whenever I see the nori roll shop I feel sad because whoever buys rolls from them is eating chemical nori that who knows what is made of… It’s so bad.
So, if you want to eat quality nori for its yummy taste and health, make sure to buy a high quality one!
Korean-style Nori Recipe
I love Korean Nori, it is sooo good – I can’t stop eating once I open a pack! And here in Australia, it’s getting so popular. But one thing you need to be careful about is that most of these do contain MSG; however, there are more and more MSG-free Korean Nori available these days so please do check the label!
Another option is to make your own!
- 5 sheets of nori
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Some sea salt
- Brush the sesame oil on one side of the nori then sprinkle a pinch of salt per nori sheet.
- Heat a frying pan over medium heat. Cook the nori at a time until crispy then cook another side until crispy.
- Cut the nori to the size you like.
I hope this post makes you want to include nori in your diet and also be careful of which nori to eat!
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