If you're not already including edible seaweed in your diet, you might want to start. Delicious varieties like wakame, kelp, kombu, nori and dulse have been shown to aid digestion, absorb toxins in the body, be a great source for vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K and iodine, fight obesity, and, oh yeah, they're super easy to prepare as well as being delicious.

We thought we'd take a look at those five big types of vegetables from the sea, find out the details behind their nutritional benefits, and give you the scoop on how to prepare them.

Wakame

Wakame salad

Photo: Merydolla/Shutterstock

Wakame is a magical little seaweed that requires just a few minutes of prep. All you have to do is put the small dried pieces in water for five minutes and watch them rehydrate. You'll be amazed by how much each piece grows. Then, add it to miso soup, or make a seaweed salad. Or, if you're like me, create a bowl of quinoa, mashed yams, wakame, and tofu with a miso dressing, and you'll have a delicious lunch.

Wakame is a good source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Riboflavin
  • Calcium
  • Folate
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Niacin
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Phosphorus
Kelp

Kelp salad

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Ever heard of a kelp forest? In the wild, these incredible sea plants grow in shallow waters and almost look like underwater trees — hence the name forest. A versatile ingredient, kelp, is normally sold dried, and when rehydrated (which takes about an hour) it swells to many times its original size. It can be used in seaweed salads, stir frys, and soups, as well as to help cook beans, peas and lentils. Kelp and wakame look an awful lot a like, but their nutritional value differ a bit, so be sure to get the one that is best for you.

Kelp is a good source of:

  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin C
  • Riboflavin
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Manganese
  • Iron
  • Dietary fiber
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Iodine
  • Zinc
  • Copper
Kombu

Kombu broth and dried kombu

A bowl of kombu broth sits next to strips of dried kombu. (Photo: Shawn Hempel/Shutterstock)

After reading this, you'll want to keep kombu at the ready. Kombu, a type of kelp, is traditionally used to enhance the flavor of soups and broths (such as dashi, a noodle broth). You also might want to toss some in with your beans while they're cooking. The Washington Post notes that in addition to adding flavor, kombu makes beans more digestible and will decrease their gas-making properties. Many also swear by crushing it up and using it as a topping on popcorn.

Kombu is a good source of:

  • Calcium
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Dietary fiber
  • Calcium
Dulse

Dried dulse

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Whole leaf dulse is a beautiful crimson color and can be eaten right out of the bag. If you want your dulse a little more tender, Maine Coast Sea Vegetables recommends allowing it to absorb ambient moisture by letting it sit in a humid room or using a damp towel. A quick rinse under water will speed up the tenderizing process and tone down the flavor. You can also toast it for a yummy snack or add it to soups and stir fry recipes.

Dulse is a good source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin B-6
  • Vitamin B-12
  • Calcium
  • Iodine
  • Magnesium
  • Dietary fiber
Nori

Strips of dried nori on rice

Photo: Sakarin Sawasdinaka/Shutterstock

Like dulse, you can eat nori right out of the bag. It's flaky, crispy and can be used in any number of ways. Perhaps one of the most common is as a wrapper for sushi. Nori can also be crumbled and added to dishes that traditionally use fish or crab, to give the recipe a fishy taste without the use of any actual sea creatures. Also, unlike many sea vegetable varieties, nori is low in sodium.

Nori is a good source of:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin B6
  • Thiamin
  • Pantothenic acid
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Dietary fiber