Kelp: Nutrition, Health Benefits And How To Eat

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Nutrition

oi-Neha Ghosh


on October 28, 2020

Kelp is a type of seaweed that is considered a superfood, because it possesses a good amount of essential nutrients which are beneficial for your health. Kelp is a staple food in many Asian cuisines and is used in all kinds of dishes such as salads, soups, rice dishes etc. Kelp produces a compound called sodium alginate which is used as a thickener in many foods like salad dressings, cakes, puddings, dairy products and frozen foods.

In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional aspects of kelp and its health benefits.

Health Benefits Of Kelp

Image ref: Healthline

What Is Kelp?

Kelp (Phaeophyceae) is a large, leafy brown seaweed or sea algae that grow in shallow, nutrient-rich saltwater near rocky coastlines. Kelp is a fast-growing seaweed that can grow at a height of up to 250 feet. There are about 30 varieties of kelp, giant kelp, bongo kelp and kombu being the most common varieties [1].

Kelp can be eaten in raw, cooked, powdered or supplement form. It is rich in essential vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are shown to benefit your health in many ways.

Nutritional Value Of Kelp

100 g of kelp contain 81.58 g water, 43 kcal energy and it also contains:

  • 1.68 g protein
  • 0.56 g fat
  • 9.57 g carbohydrate
  • 1.3 g fibre
  • 0.6 g sugar
  • 168 mg calcium
  • 2.85 mg iron
  • 121 mg magnesium
  • 42 mg phosphorus
  • 89 mg potassium
  • 233 mg sodium
  • 1.23 mg zinc
  • 0.13 mg copper
  • 0.2 mg manganese
  • 0.7 mcg selenium
  • 3 mg vitamin C
  • 0.05 mg thiamine
  • 0.15 mg riboflavin
  • 0.47 mg niacin
  • 0.642 mg pantothenic acid
  • 0.002 mg vitamin B6
  • 180 mcg folate
  • 12.8 mg choline
  • 116 IU vitamin A
  • 0.87 mg vitamin E
  • 66 mcg vitamin K

Health Benefits Of Kelp

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1. Aids in weight loss

Kelp is an incredibly nutrient-dense food that is low in fat and calories. And some studies have suggested that kelp may have a positive effect on obesity and weight loss, however, consistent findings are lacking [2]. Also, kelp contains a natural fibre called alginate which can help stop the absorption of fat in the gut [3].

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2. May prevent diabetes

A study published in Nutrition Research and Practice found that consumption of seaweed including kelp improved blood sugar levels, influenced glycemic control and increased antioxidant enzyme activities in individuals with type 2 diabetes [4].

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3. Reduces inflammation

Kelp has the potent ability to lower inflammation, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Kelp also contains fucoidan, a polysaccharide which has been shown to work as an anti-inflammatory agent [5] [6] [7].

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4. Prevents bone loss

As kelp is a rich source of vitamin K, this essential vitamin plays an important role in bone health. Studies have shown that vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in people with osteoporosis but also can lower fracture rates [8].

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5. Supports thyroid function

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), kelp is one of the best sources of iodine, an essential mineral needed to make thyroid hormones. The thyroid glands uses iodine to produce thyroid hormones which carry out a number of important functions such as controlling the body’s metabolism and helping in proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and early childhood.

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6. May manage cancer

Fucoidan present in kelp is known to exhibit immunomodulatory and anti-tumour effects. Animal studies have shown that it has the ability to kill leukaemia cancer cells [9]. Another study published in Marine Drugs found that fucoidan present in kelp may stop the growth of colon cancer and breast cancer [10]. Other studies also reported that fucoidan may also aid in inhibiting the growth of lung cancer cells [11].

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Side Effects Of Kelp

As kelp is an excellent source of iodine, consuming too much of it can lead to excess iodine in the body and this can affect thyroid function. In addition, different types of seaweed including kelp contain heavy metals because they absorb minerals from the water they grow in. So, it is better to consume kelp in moderation and choose organic kelp [12].

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Ways To Eat Kelp

  • Add dried kelp to soups and stews.
  • Use raw kelp noodles in salads and other dishes.
  • Use dried kelp flakes as a food seasoning.
  • Add kelp to green smoothies.
  • Stir-fry kelp with veggies

Image ref: Healthline

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Kelp Recipes

Kelp salad

Ingredients:

  • 200 g fresh kelp or soaked dried kelp
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 scallions, finely chopped
  • 1-2 Thai peppers, cut into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp black vinegar
  • ΒΌ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp vegetable cooking oil

Method:

  • Cut the kelp into thin shreds and wash it in cold water two times.
  • Boil water and add the shredded kelp into it and cook for two minutes. Transfer into a bowl and drain the water.
  • Add light soy sauce, scallion, chilli peppers, vinegar and garlic. Heat vegetable oil until hot and then pour it over the ingredients.
  • Mix together all the ingredients well and serve [13].

Image ref: onegreenplanet.org

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