The sea is a gift that just keeps on giving, and apparently, it’s given us a new superfood. Freshly washed upon Okinawa shores are these curious little green bubbles nicknamed green caviar, and unlike their black decadent fish-derived cousins, this is a type of seaweed that has hundreds of the emerald beads attached to the stem.
And if it’s good enough for the residents of Okinawa, it’s good enough for us. After all, the population on the southern Japanese islands is said to include the largest proportion of centenarians in the country. Green caviar is even locally nicknamed “longevity seaweed” to these seniors, which gives us a good idea on how valuable it is nutritionally.
While the cycle from planting to harvesting isn’t very long, seasonal conditions in Japan — where it’s native at — make it hard to get a good yield every year, so crops are now sourced from other countries such as Vietnam and Thailand.
While it’s still not a mainstream addition to foods these days, green caviar isn’t all that hard to find. Online store Meal Belly is a local start-up solely dedicated to bringing in the pretty edible beads to you.
Like regular caviar, the seaweed has a crunchy bite to it and carries the flavourful taste of seawater — salty and slightly fishy — albeit with a slightly more refreshing finish. However, flavours aside, it’s not called a superfood for nothing.
Here are 5 reasons that will inspire you to include green caviar into your daily diet now.
If you’re looking to lose an extra pound or two effortlessly, this might be your best chance. Low in calories but rich in calcium, zinc, iron, vegetable protein, vitamin C and polyunsaturated fatty acids, the seaweed provides ample nutrition in minimal calories. Simply replace your crisps and chocolates for green caviar during snack time for these lower sodium content alternatives.
(Image: Victoria Sport)
Unsaturated fatty acids such as AA, LA, DHA, EPA and ALA are the BFFs your heart needs, and green caviar checks the list for all of them. Besides reducing cholesterol and preventing oxidative damage, it also increases the elasticity of blood vessels while maintaining artery health. You won’t need an appointment with the cardiologist anytime soon with this one.
With the ability to control sugar levels and activity of free radicals, green caviar helps decrease intracellular accumulation of sorbitol (an artificial sweeter that metabolises slowly in the human body) and inhibits the binding of glucose and protein, reducing diabetes-related complications.
Also known as an enlarged thyroid gland, a goiter hinders the gland’s critical role in regulating the metabolic processes of the body. This can happen due to a number of reasons, but occurs most commonly during an iodine deficiency in the body, which causes the thyroid to enlarge to keep up with demand for thyroid hormone production. Because it’s so rich in iodine — 100g contains about 1.8mg of iodine — consuming only 30g of green caviar a day is sufficient in preventing the damage.
When it comes to Singapore’s humidity, all we’re really asking for is tameable hair and skin that isn’t permanently clogged. The good fat in green caviar helps protect cell membranes, improve elasticity and lowers permeability of the vessel wall to prevent dry skin, while the vitamins A and C produce collagen and antioxidants simultaneously. The result is skin that looks more supple and is more equipped to handle the environmental stress that comes with living in a city.
(Image: Jenny Cho)