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Can Seaweed Help With Weight Loss?

June 05, 2024

Watch out, kale. Seaweed has all the health benefits of other dark leafy greens — and a potential edge when it comes to weight loss. A few years back, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver even claimed to lose 30 pounds by adding seaweed to his daily diet.

Should you stock up? We asked an expert.

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Like other leafy greens, seaweed has a ton of fiber — a key for weight loss.

In general, dark leafy greens like seaweed, kale and collard greens are some of the most nutrient-dense foods in the natural world, rich with vitamins and minerals from calcium to iron, magnesium and more.

Crucially, for weight loss purposes, they also contain high levels of fiber.

“Adding fiber to meals can reduce blood sugar spikes and help you feel fuller for longer,” says Hartford HealthCare bariatric dietitian BreAnn Erickson, CDN. “That’s true for any fiber-rich food, and certainly for leafy greens like seaweed.”

Seaweed also a unique ingredient: alginate.

Many seaweeds naturally contain high levels of alginate, a compound that swells and turns into a goopy gel when it hits your stomach. As people with heartburn already know, this “gooping” is a good thing: It creates a protective barrier in the stomach, making alginates a natural remedy for acid reflux.

It could also play a role in weight loss.


“Because alginate swells to fill up space in the stomach, some researchers believe it adds to that feeling of fullness,” says Erickson. In addition, at least one study suggests that alginate may block a fat-digesting enzyme in the gut, resulting in less weight gain.

> Related: 4 Reasons to Eat More Avocado

From noodles to chips, it’s easy to add seaweed to your diet.

Seaweed has long been a staple across Asia as an ingredient in salads, soups, seasoning and more. It’s recently become popular in the U.S. too, from Michelin restaurants to your local grocery store.

Look for:

  • Seaweed “spaghetti,” aka noodles
  • Seaweed “crisps,” aka chips
  • Seaweed “salad,” aka greens, often fermented and frozen or refrigerated

Not a fan of seaweed’s signature “umami” taste?

“Stick with kale or collard greens, which offer many of the same health benefits,” says Erickson.

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Just remember that what you eat is only one part of the equation.

Chef Jamie Oliver didn’t lose all that weight by simply adding seaweed to his diet — he also cut out carbs and processed foods, among other efforts.

“Of course, seaweed can be great for you. By all means, add it to your diet. But for most people, weight loss is a complex journey, and what we eat is just one aspect of it,” says Erickson.

So if you want a more complete plan, reach out to an expert.

In the meantime, for a boost of fiber and flavor, reach for those seaweed crisps.