Marine Plants for a Long Life?

A study, on why a Japanese island’s elderly have long lives, revealed an interesting secret: They eat edible plants from the sea.

We Americans are doing better than you might think on aging. Contrary to how bad things sound on the news, the truth is, we have more centenarians than any other country in the world. But if you look at average life spans, it’s Okinawans who live longer than any other people on Earth.

And elderly Okinawans rarely die from diseases like heart disease and cancer and are known for aging slowly. The Okinawa Centenarian Study examined why this Japanese island’s elderly are the longest-lived people on the planet. And the study revealed an interesting staple of their daily diet:

Edible plants from the sea.(1)

They are some of the most nutrient-rich foods on the planet and I’m going to tell you where to get them and how to use them.

We can’t prove that Okinawans have the longest life span because they eat these marine plants. But we do know that many of the antioxidants in these edible marine plants are more powerful than the ones you find in land-based vegetables. In fact, these sea veggies are some of the most potent anti-aging foods around. They work just as well as modern drugs in treating several chronic diseases. And they contain every mineral your body needs.

Best part is… you can eat as much of it as you want, without taking a hit to your waistline. For all these reasons, I make it a part of my meals regularly. I’ll show you how you can do the same.

Discover the Healing Power of Marine Superfoods

Edible marine plants:

  • Contain potent antioxidants, such as vitamins A, B1, C and E – which help to boost the immune system and fight free radicals and premature aging.

  • Have high levels of magnesium, which prevents inflammation.

  • Are packed with calcium for strong healthy bones. In fact, one teaspoon of these marine plants has 1,000 times more calcium than a glass of milk.

  • Have lignans that block cancer-causing hormones.

  • Are loaded with iodine for thyroid health and fiber for digestive health.

  • Are an excellent source of plant-based protein and healthy carbs.

But the real benefit lies in their power to heal.

Take wakame, for example. This popular type of edible sea plant is a common ingredient in miso soups and Japanese salads and stir-fry dishes. It contains a pigment called fucoxanthin. And it’s been found to reduce belly fat. How? By stimulating the protein UCP – which is most abundant in our bellies. This protein actually helps to shed fat – by oxidizing it and converting it to energy.

But fat loss is just one benefit of fucoxanthin. It also helps the liver produce DHA in levels comparable to fish supplements. And DHA is one of the most important fatty acids your body needs for heart and brain health.

These sea veggies also are packed with “super antioxidants” that fight chronic disease.

One is fucodian. In a study recently presented at International Conference on Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research, researchers cultivated lymphoma cells in a lab. They found that one brown sea plant – rich in fucodians – prevented lymphoma cells from growing and left healthy cells intact.(2)

Ecklonia cava is another example of a super-antioxidant found in edible marine plants. It’s packed with immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory polyphenols, which also give it color. In fact, much of the nutrition in any vegetable or fruit can be attributed to polyphenols. But the polyphenol antioxidants in sea vegetables have been found to be up to 100 times more powerful than land-based polyphenols.(3)

ECE is an abstract of ecklonia cava. It’s available as a supplement – and effectively treats many chronic diseases. Like fibromyalgia, for example. In an eight-week study published in the Journal of Applied Phycology, ECE was added to therapy for fibromyalgia patents. Results showed that ECE enhanced the participants’ quality of sleep and boosted their energy levels.(4)

ECE also cuts cholesterol and improves heart health. In one study, researchers gave middle-aged adults 100 mg of ECE. After six weeks, average cholesterol levels dropped and HDL levels rose significantly.<5)

And if you’re taking blood pressure and heart meds, like ACE inhibitors, ECE works just the same. It inhibits angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE) that cause your blood vessels to constrict. In fact, ECE has been found to have 15 of the ACE-inhibiting powers of most land-

based polyphenols.(6,7)

What’s more, ECE can treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis just as effectively as common drugs like Celebrex. In one study published in the Archives of Pharmacal. Research, researchers examined the effects of ECE on patients over four weeks with nerve pain. Eighty percent of the participants experienced reductions in pain.(8)

And ECE has even been found to be more effective at treating E.D. than prescription drugs.(9)

In addition to ECE, spirulina is another excellent supplement from the sea – available in powder or pill form. It contains 55-70 percent protein, and is rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9, C, D, E, potassium, copper, calcium, chromium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, selenium, sodium, zinc and flavonoids. That’s why it’s one the most nutrient-rich sea plants in the world.

It’s been found to:

  • Improve hay fever (10)

  • Improve recovery after stroke (11)

  • Reverse age-related memory loss (12)

  • Reduce inflammation (13)

Get to Know These Delicious Sea Veggies

The best way to experience the amazing taste and health benefits of edible marine plants is to eat a variety of them.

They come in all sorts of shapes, colors, textures and tastes. Here’s a list of seven of my favorites:

  • Wakame (wah-ka-mee): Wakame – my personal favorite – is one of the most common types of edible brown sea plants. It has a mild flavor and tastes delicious in soups and salads. It has the highest vegetarian source of omega-3s – as well as high levels of calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin.

  • Dulse (dols): Dulse is a very common red edible seaweed. It tastes salty and somewhat spicy and has a leathery texture. It’s best used as a snack (you can buy dulse flakes and eat them right out of the package) or in soups and salads, on pizza, or on sandwiches. It is an excellent source of protein, minerals and vitamins compared to other veggies.

  • Nori (nor-ee): Nori is a very common dried laver seaweed that has a meaty, sweet flavor. It’s most commonly wrapped around sushi and California rolls (nori is shredded and made into what looks like sheets of paper). It can also be used as a garnish, as flavoring in noodle dishes, soups and vegetables, in quinoa salad, or in nut pates. Nori is a rich source of calcium, iron, vitamin A, B, C, E, K, iodine, protein (the highest protein of all edible marine plants!), calcium and iron.

  • Arame (a-hom): Arame is a kelp that has a mild, semi-sweet flavor and a firm texture. It tastes wonderful in appetizers, casseroles, muffins, pilafs, soups, and toasted dishes. It is a rich source of calcium, iodine, iron, magnesium and vitamin A. It also contains cancer-fighting lignans.

  • Hijiki (I-ji-key): Hijiki is a brown sea plant with a fishy, salty taste, and a texture similar to spaghetti. It’s best used, when chopped well, in salads, burgers, and veggie dishes. Preparation note: Hijiki must be soaked and chopped before cooking and simmered for at least 45 minutes to make it tender.

  • Kombu (kom-boo): Kombu is a brown kelp commonly used in Japanese cooking. It’s regarded as one of Japan’s five basic tastes – in addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter. It’s typically used to make dashi (soup stock used to make miso soup), or as sashimi.Kombu is good source of glutamic acid (for protein building) and iodine.

  • Sea Lettuce: Sea lettuce is green algae – most commonly used in soups and salads. It has a strong seafood taste, and is high in protein, soluble dietary fiber, and a variety of vitamins and minerals, especially iron.

A Couple Easy Ways to Start Adding Some Deep-Sea Flavor to Your Life

1. The best place to find edible marine plants are health and seafood stores and Asian markets. You can visit your local Whole Foods Market for fresh organic sea veggies. For example, you’ll find wakame in the seafood section. There’s also a great Guide to Sea Veggies and a number of recipes on the Whole Foods Market website at

You can find seaweed supplements – including ECE and spirulina – at most health-supplement stores.

You also can check,,  and to order nori, kombu, sea lettuce and other edible marine plants.

2. Get a cookbook. Here are four of my personal favorites:

  • The New Seaweed Cookbook: A Complete Guide to Discovering the Deep Flavors of the Sea: Includes delicious recipes and explains in simple terms how to prepare kombu, nori, arame, wakame and dulse.

  • Sea Vegetable Celebration: Recipes Using Ocean Vegetables: Includes 100 delicious recipes.

  • Japanese Cooking: A Simple Art: Thoroughly explains how to make all the basic elements of Japanese cuisine, which is rich in sea vegetables. Also includes some good recipes.

  • The Miso Book: The Art of Cooking With Miso: Tells all you need to know about the art of creating delicious miso soup.

3. Always buy certified organic sea vegetables. That way, you lower the risk of the vegetable being contaminated with those heavy metals you find in fish, including mercury, arsenic, lead and cadmium. You have to be sure that Hijiki in particular is organic, otherwise it can have high levels of arsenic.


1. Okinawa Centenarian Study:

2. American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), “Fucoidan from Laminaria cichorioides inhibits AP-1 transactivation and cell transformation in mouse epidermal JB6 cells,” Int’l. Conference on Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research October 2009

3. Shin, H.C., et al, “An antioxidative and anti-inflammatory agent for potential treatment of osteoarthritis from Ecklonia cava,” Arch. Pharm. Res. Feb. 2006;29(2):165-71

4. Shibata, et al, “Inhibitory effects of brown algal phlorotannins on secretory phospholipase a2s, lipoxygenases and cycloxygenases,” J. Appl. Phycol. 2003;15: 61-66

5. Jang, Yangsoo, “Effect of Mo’bar on hemopoiesis …“ Endothelial function, Endocrinological profile, and Daily Activities in Adults November 2001

6. Kang, K.A., et al, “Cytoprotective effect of phloroglucinol on oxidative stress induced cell damage via catalase activation,” J. Cell Biochem. Feb. 15, 2006;97(3):609-20

7. Kim, M.M., et al, “Phlorotannins in Ecklonia cava extract inhibit matrix metalloproteinase activity,” Life Sci. Sept. 5, 2006;79(15):1436-43

8. Shin, H.C., et al, “An antioxidative and anti-inflammatory agent for potential treatment of osteoarthritis from Ecklonia cava,” Arch Pharm Res. 2006 Feb;29(2):165-71.

9. Kang, K.A., et al, “Eckol isolated from Ecklonia cava attenuates oxidative stress induced cell damage in lung fibroblast cells,” FEBS Lett. Nov. 21, 2005;579(28):6295-304

10. Chen, L.L., et al, “Experimental study of spirulina platensis in treating allergic rhinitis in rats,” Journal of Central South University (Medical Sciences) Feb. 2005;30(1):96-8

11. Wang, Y., et al, “Dietary supplementation with blueberries, spinach, or spirulina reduces ischemic brain damage,” Experimental Neurology May 2005 ;193(1):75-84

12. Gemma, C., et al, “Diets enriched in foods with high antioxidant activity reverse age-induced decreases in cerebellar beta-adrenergic function and increases in proinflammatory cytokines,” Experimental Neurology July 15, 2002; 22(14):6114-20

13 Park, H., Lee, Y., Ryu, H., et al, “A randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study to establish the effects of spirulina in elderly Koreans,” Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism 2008;52(4): 322–328


Dr. Al Sears is fast becoming the nation's leading authority on longevity and heart health.  His cutting edge breakthroughs and commanding knowledge of alternative medicine have been transforming the lives of his patients for over 15 years. Learn more at

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