by Amy Reiley
There is evidence of seaweed’s appreciation as a potent aphrodisiac by many cultures around the world and through the ages. The ancient Roman poet Juvenal advised arguing lovers to douse their anger with a snack of seaweed. In Shakespearean times, the bountiful vegetables of the sea were celebrated throughout England.
In the Caribbean, a traditional drink still enjoyed today is an aphrodisiac potion made from Irish moss (a variety of seaweed named for its moss-like appearance) with milk. In some regions, rum and spices are added for extra potency. The drink is so popular that one clever manufacturer has mass-marketed the seaweed drink, selling it in cans. In Belize you’ll get a wink and a giggle for just mentioning a desire for seaweed. In Tobago, you’ll get a scoop of it made into ice cream, served on a cone.
And while culinary use of seaweed is reserved for dairy products in the Caribbean, in Japan, seaweed is served as a salad, a wrapper for sushi and even dried and used as a salt-like seasoning. In New England, seaweed is used to steam shellfish at clambakes. A variety commonly called sea lettuce can be dried until crisp and served much like paper-thin potato chips.
From the standpoint of nutrition, it is easy to see why seaweed is classified as an aphrodisiac the world over. Low in fat and calories, it is rich in vitamin B1, which combats fatigue and depression. Seaweed’s B2 content aids in hormone production.
Seaweed boasts a dose of vitamin E, which helps in maintenance of healthy sperm by fighting free radicals in the sperm membrane. (It can take as much as three months of steady vitamin E doses to reap this reward). E has also proven useful in helping regulate the function of sex glands. In addition, seaweed contains soluble fiber, iodine and selenium. Nori, the seaweed prominent in sushi restaurants, is valued for its protein content which composes as much as 30% of this seaweed’s dry weight. Lastly, seaweed is a good source of manganese, a mineral known to help maintain a healthy sex drive.