Seaweeds contain minerals, vitamins, soluble dietary fibers, and flavonoids, which are regarded as preventive agents against lifestyle-related diseases. Seaweeds are consumed commonly in East Asian countries including Japan. Thus, intake of seaweeds might contribute to Japanese longevity via prevention of lifestyle-related diseases. Recently, two large Japanese cohort studies have reported the association of seaweed intake with reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases. On the other hand, seaweeds also contain iodine and heavy metals such as arsenic species, which are considered to have adverse effects on health. We here reviewed studies of the association between seaweed intake and mortality from or incidence of cancer and cardiovascular diseases, and their risk factors such as blood pressure or serum lipids. We also summarized the adverse effects of iodine and arsenic species in seaweeds. Although seaweeds have not been widely consumed in Western countries, dietary diversification and an increased proportion of immigrants from East Asia may increase seaweed consumption in those countries. Further epidemiological studies including observational and interventional studies are necessary to clarify the effects of seaweeds on disease and health.
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We thank Ms F. Miyamasu, Medical English Communications Center, University of Tsukuba, for editorial assistance.
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Murai, U., Yamagishi, K., Kishida, R. et al. Impact of seaweed intake on health. Eur J Clin Nutr 75, 877–889 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41430-020-00739-8
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2021)