What are the Benefits of Kelp Powder

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Kelp powder is a nutrient-packed addition to a healthy diet and offers a wide range of health benefits.

What is Kelp Powder?

Kelp powder is the powdered form of kelp seaweed, which is a form of large, brown sea algae. It is rich in nutrients and grows quickly in the cold and shallow ocean water. Kelp needs sunlight in order to grow and it absorbs minerals, such as iodine, from the seawater. Fresh kelp must be fully dried before being processed into a powder.

This plant and has recently become an important part of certain nutritious lifestyles. As this review of seaweed and kelp related studies explains, while most tests have been done on animal subjects, the number of human studies is increasing, and the results have generally been positive.
People take kelp powder as a health supplement, usually mixed with a liquid. It is also possible to take powdered kelp in gel capsules, which some people find easier and more palatable. Kelp is often called a ‘superfood’ due to its high mineral content and various health effects associated with its use. [1]

Flatline picture of two spoons with green powder.

Dehydrated powders are an easy way to use vegetables. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Seaweed, kelp, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]81.58
Energy 43
Energy [kJ]180
Protein [g]1.68
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.56
Ash [g]6.61
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]9.57
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.3
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]0.6
Calcium, Ca [mg]168
Iron, Fe [mg]2.85
Magnesium, Mg [mg]121
Phosphorus, P [mg]42
Potassium, K [mg]89
Sodium, Na [mg]233
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.23
Copper, Cu [mg]0.13
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.2
Selenium, Se [µg]0.7
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]3
Thiamin [mg]0.05
Riboflavin [mg]0.15
Niacin [mg]0.47
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.64
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0
Folate, total [µg]180
Folate, food [µg]180
Folate, DFE [µg]180
Choline, total [mg]12.8
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]6
Carotene, beta [µg]70
Vitamin A, IU [IU]116
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.87
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]66
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.25
14:0 [g]0.03
16:0 [g]0.11
18:0 [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.1
16:1 [g]0
18:1 [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.05
18:2 [g]0.02
18:3 [g]0
18:4 [g]0
20:4 [g]0.01
20:5 n-3 (EPA) [g]0
Tryptophan [g]0.05
Threonine [g]0.06
Isoleucine [g]0.08
Leucine [g]0.08
Lysine [g]0.08
Methionine [g]0.03
Cystine [g]0.1
Phenylalanine [g]0.04
Tyrosine [g]0.03
Valine [g]0.07
Arginine [g]0.07
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.12
Aspartic acid [g]0.13
Glutamic acid [g]0.27
Glycine [g]0.1
Proline [g]0.07
Serine [g]0.1
Sources include : USDA [2]

Nutritional Properties

Kelp is considered an excellent source of iodine, but it also contains iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, niacin, zinc, copper, riboflavin, and thiamin. It is also a great source for vitamins A, B-12, B-6, and C.

Potential Health Benefits of Kelp Powder

Let us take a look at the health benefits of kelp powder.

  • Aids Thyroid Function: Iodine is essential for the health and function of the thyroid, which regulates the release of critical hormones in the body. Kelp is considered one of the best sources of iodine we can add to our diet. According to a study conducted by Dr. Clifford Clark and published in the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Journal, short-term supplementation with kelp powder can help boost the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone in the body. That being said, it is possible to take an excessive amount of iodine, which can have detrimental effects on the body, so it is best to consume kelp powder in moderation. [3]
  • Maintains Healthy Cholesterol Levels: Kelp lowers bad cholesterol and boosts good cholesterol. Maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is essential for protecting cardiovascular health and lowering your risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • Decreases Risk of Breast Cancer: Evidence indicates that the difference between breast cancer levels in American and Japanese women is related to the dietary choices of those respective countries. Studies show that kelp may actually help inhibit the growth of cancer cells. [4]
  • Lower Blood Sugar:Some studies indicate that kelp can help the body control glucose and lower blood sugar, which means that kelp powder could be an aid when dealing with Type 2 diabetes. [5]
  • Promotes Weight Loss: Kelp contains alginate, a fiber that helps the gut resistfat absorption. In a study conducted by Dr. Matthew Wilcox and published in Food Chemistry, it was found that alginates are a safe and widely effective means of treating obesity. Kelp powder also contains a compound called fucoxanthin, which one study suggests could promote weight loss when combined with particular oils. Kelp is also a low-fat and low-calorie food source but can be quite filling. [6] [7]

Side Effects

Considering that kelp does contain iodine, it’s important not to take more than the recommended amount of powder. Excessive iodine in the body can cause hyperthyroidism, which is very detrimental to overall health. There has been some discussion that sea vegetables can pick up heavy metals from the sea, such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic, and studies in this area are currently underway.

Fortunately, some studies have already been conducted, such as this one by Y.O. Hwang published in Food Additives and Contaminants, demonstrating that even in cultures where high levels of seaweed are consumed, there is still a relatively low probability of being negatively affected by these trace heavy metals. With that in mind, it is advisable to buy kelp that has been tested for arsenic and other heavy metals. [8]

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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