The health benefits of kelp include its ability to regulate the thyroid gland, improve the metabolism, lower the risk of cancer, and help in weight loss. It promotes hydration, protects against radiation poisoning, strengthens the bones, balances the pH levels, and boosts immunity. It also helps control diabetes, reduce inflammation, and boost blood circulation and maintain healthy skin.
What is Kelp?
Kelp or sea kelp is a type of large seaweed that belongs to the brown algae family, whose scientific order is Laminariales. The Macrocystis and Nereocystis genera of kelp can grow at a rate of half a meter a day, extending up to 30 to 80 meters in height.
Kelp is found in nearshore ecosystems around the world but was first utilized in Scotland, then gradually moved to America. Asian countries like China use it in many medicinal as well as culinary applications.
Serving Size : Nutrient Value 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
In terms of nutrition, kelp contains dietary fiber, carbohydrates, protein, and amino acids. It is also a rich source of vitamin B1, riboflavin, vitamin B3, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin K. The mineral wealth in it includes zinc, copper, calcium, potassium, sodium, iron, magnesium, boron, iodine, and manganese.
Health Benefits of Kelp
Let’s take a look at the benefits of this seaweed.
Sea kelp contains natural compounds called fucoidan and fucoxanthin, which are shown to have potential chemotherapeutic and chemopreventive properties (The Scientific Journal, 2014). Moreover, the study says that the carotenoid of fucoxanthin as well as its metabolite, fucoxanthinol, show evidence of antitumor activity linked to apoptosis and anti-angiogenic effect. Another study in the Journal of Cancer (May 2016) linked the consumption of brown seaweed fucoidan to having a therapeutic effect in breast cancer management.
Kelp contains fucoxanthin, a protein that aids in reducing fat tissues. Alginates are molecules present in seaweed that significantly aid in managing obesity. Moreover, this seaweed is low in calories, so you can add it to your weight loss diet.
Protects Thyroid Health
Kelp contains high levels of iodine, which can help prevent hypothyroidism. It is one of the most important elements that help regulate hormonal function throughout the body. Proper amounts of iodine guarantee a functional metabolism and proper enzymatic activity in the body.
With its antioxidant properties, kelp is able to reduce oxidative stress in your body. This helps in delaying premature aging and its symptoms like wrinkles and age spots. It also aids in skincare and keeps your skin nourished.
Maintains pH Balance
As an alkaline food, kelp helps maintain the acid-base balance in our body, which is essential for many bodily processes and proper digestion.
Helps Manage Diabetes
Type 2 diabetics can easily add kelp to their diet as it helps in regulating the blood glucose levels. It has shown positive results in influencing the glycemic control in people suffering from diabetes.
Improves Bone Health
Vitamin K is a crucial nutrient present in kelp. It aids in improving bone density. The seaweed is also rich in essential minerals like calcium, boron, zinc, copper, and manganese, all of which ensure that our bones remain strong. Including this anti-inflammatory seaweed in your diet can also heal bone damage, and prevent the onset of arthritis and osteoporosis.
Kelp contains 16 different amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. They have the ability to regulate cellular growth, speed up wound healing and muscle development, and improve organ functioning.
Increases Blood Circulation
Sea kelp is a rich source of chlorophyll, which closely resembles human blood and helps stimulate red blood cell (RBCs) production. This increases oxygenation and optimizes the organ function throughout the body.
Moreover, the fucoidan in this seaweed is also a great nutrient that helps prevent blood clotting. This can significantly lower the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
There are many benefits to eating this seaweed, but overconsumption can lead to many side effects. They are mentioned below.
- Kelp contains iodine, which can be toxic if consumed in excess.
- It is also very high in sodium, and although that is balanced by the potassium content, it is still not recommended for people with pre-existing heart conditions or high cholesterol levels.
- Prolonged use of its supplements is known to cause arsenic poisoning. So make sure you always consult with your doctor before adding it to your diet.
- There are a number of types of algae available, which if consumed can worsen your health as they are toxic. So make sure you include the healthiest one in your diet.