We might not be able to relocate to the areas around the world where people tend to live past 100, but we can eat like them! After all, experts believe local diets are a huge part of the longevity in “blue zone” places like Okinawa, Japan. Enjoying one of their tasty staples known as “sea grapes” might be the key to living our own long, healthy lives.
Also called “longevity seaweed,” the Caulerpa lentillifera plant gets the fruity nickname thanks to its tiny green bulbs. It’s a popular treat throughout Asia where it goes by even more names, like latô in the Philippines and latok in Malaysia. Whatever you call it, each little pod is bursting with a savory, briny flavor — and a whole lot of health benefits.
Researchers describe sea grapes as a powerful natural food source that’s rich in protein, minerals, fiber, vitamins, fatty acids, and amino acids. It also only has about 20 calories and less than one gram of fat per 100 grams.
A promising animal study from 2020 found that the high nutrient content may help combat the negative impacts of a high carb and high fat meals. After feeding two groups of mice the same amount of carbs and fat for 16 weeks, the group that was also given sea grapes showed decreased body weight, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and reduced inflammation. They also saw improvements in their gut microbiota, which authors believe prevented inflammatory cells from causing issues like obesity, fatty liver disease, and hypertension.
Earlier research from 2014 looked into potential anti-diabetic effects of sea grapes on a cellular level. The authors discovered that extract from the plant helped to significantly improve the balance and production of insulin and glucose. More studies need to be done, but they concluded these little bulbs could be seriously helpful for those living with diabetes.
Luckily, unless you have a seaweed allergy (or simply don’t like the taste of it), there should be no harm in giving sea grapes a try. They taste great on their own or on a salad, rice, or mixed in seafood dishes. You can also easily find them online (Buy on Amazon, $16.49). Who knows, it could become your new favorite healthy treat that just might help you live longer!
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