Many Westerners would claim to not even think about eating seaweed, until you remind them of sushi. The crisp, brown wrapper of sushi rolls, which often appears as a strip around nigiri sushi, is made from dried seaweed. Because seaweed spends its life cycle submersed in the ocean, these light sheets of plant contain a surprising amount of mineral nutrition.
Serving Size & Calories
A single sheet of seaweed wrap weighs about 1 oz. Such a sheet contains about 85 calories, according to the "USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference." Of those calories, less than one comes from fat. Eighty come from carbohydrates and the remaining four come from protein.
There are 22 g of total carbohydrate in a typical serving of seaweed wrap. These carbohydrates are almost entirely complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates, as opposed to simple carbohydrates like starches and sugars, are healthy for you. They break down slowly and provide you with long lasting energy with no following sugar low. Note that the white rice often served with seaweed wraps is just the opposite, containing almost entirely refined, simple carbohydrates.
Seaweed wraps contain no appreciable amount of fats, about 1/10 of 1 g per sheet. They will have little effect on your blood cholesterol level, though the fish traditionally served with them will be rich in fats and fatty acids.
A serving of seaweed wrap contains just under 2 g of protein, about 3 percent of your USDA recommended daily value. Because the protein comes from plants, it is an incomplete protein. That means it contains only some of the eight essential amino acids your body needs for tissue health but cannot produce on its own. To get a complete protein, you should also eat complementary foods — like the bean curds and soy beans that accompany a traditional sushi meal.
A single seaweed wrap contains 60 percent of your daily manganese, 54 percent of your magnesium, 41 percent of your folate and 33 percent of your iron. It contains smaller, but still significant, amounts of vitamins E, K and B-6, riboflavin, calcium, potassium, zinc and copper. The seaweed itself contains just 1 percent of your daily allowance for sodium, but many commercially-produced versions have added salt. Check the product packaging to confirm the sodium content of a particular wrap.
- USDA: National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference
- "Eat, Drink and Be Healthy"; Dr. Walter Willett; 2004
- "Wake Up Little Sushi"; Good Eats; Season 9, Episode 6