Kelp grows in oceans off coastlines across the world. This plant is classified botanically as brown algae. It offers both humans and animals a rich source of essential minerals and vitamins.
Since kelp depends on seawaters for its nourishment, it is loaded with excellent nutrients. However, care must be taken, since most oceans are polluted, to check where there are protected seas and purchase kelp which has been harvested in these areas.
Kelp contains potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium, sodium, zinc and iron. It also contains amino acids and vitamins C, D, A, B1, B2, E, B12 and K.
Kelp and Diet
The entire kelp plant is dried and used to make food supplements, powder, liquids or granules which can be used in our daily diet. There are several ways to use kelp.
Kelp supplements provide us with the best source of bioavailable iodine. They are considered ‘green superfoods’ and are also a ready source of various minerals and vitamins mentioned above.
Some people prefer using kelp to other iodine supplements since being a natural food, the body may utilize it more effectively.
Taking a balanced nutritional supplement like kelp offers greater overall health benefits than taking single mineral supplements such as iodine supplements. Always check the dosage of kelp supplements that you buy for the iodine strength can vary with different brands.
Some people who suffer from iodine or other mineral allergies must be careful. Some types of kelp may also have some toxic elements. So, check for reactions and stop using if the reactions are severe. The daily recommended dosage is 150mcg for iodine supplements.
Kelp in Diet
Kelp can be consumed directly or included in various dishes. Dried strips of kelp are sold in natural food stores.
Soak these in warm water for about 10 minutes. When the kelp strands have been reconstituted, they can be cut into small bits and eaten raw or added to various dishes like soup, noodles, stir-fries, casseroles or even sweet dishes.
Kelp liquid is said to provide the highest concentration of all the nutrients. A single dose of kelp alcohol extract offers 200-600mg of kelp. Those who prefer can substitute kelp for table salt in their diet.
Basic Use: Once kelp has been soaked and reconstituted, it can be cut into small bits and added to soup, stews, noodle dishes, cooked rice and stir-fries.
It can be used to tenderize peas, beans and lentils. The glutamic acid content in kelp can make beans softer and easily digestible. Kelp combines well with turnips, carrots, onions, tofu, parsnip, cabbage, kale, rutabaga and many other types of greens.
Kelp and Rice : To make a delicious and nutritious rice dish, follow this recipe:
- Olive oil – 2tbsp
- Chopped onion – 1 small
- Garlic – 3 cloves minced
- Kelp – ½ cup soaked and chopped
- Brown rice – 3 cups cooked
- Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp roasted
- Thyme, sea salt, fresh ginger juice/cayenne – to taste
Warm the olive oil, add carrots, onions and garlic. Add thyme and cook till soft. Add kelp and cook for further 2 minutes. Add the cooked brown rice, cayenne or ginger juice, sesame seeds and sea salt.
This is a popular Asian dish and can be made more nutritious by adding 5” bits of soaked kelp. Add this to a quart of water to which you can add various vegetables – celery, greens, onions, carrots etc.
Cook till tender, and take off flame. Add miso (2 tsp) softened in stock to the soup and serve after a few minutes.
Those who enjoy a crispy bite can get a nutritious one with kelp.
- Maple or rice syrup – ½ cup
- Safflower oil – 1/3 cup
- Roasted kelp – 1 cup cut into bits
- Almonds – ½ cup sliced
- Sesame seeds – 1 cup
- Shoyu – 1 tsp
Turn oven to 350° and preheat. Combine oil and syrup and boil in a skillet. When it begins to froth, add almonds and stir well. Now add kelp and sesame seeds, sprinkle shoyu.
Spread a thin of this mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 7-10 minutes, making sure it does not burn out. Take out with a spatula, place on a tray till cool, break into bits and enjoy a crispy kelp snack.
Kelp can also be added to other dishes like hand-rolled sushi, laver soup, seaweed sweets and such.
Kelp for Pets
Kelp can also be incorporated in the diet of our pets – dogs, cats, birds etc. Kelp promotes general health, improves glandular activities, promotes weight control, helps maintain healthy coat and skin, controls fleas and other parasites, improve digestion etc.
Kelp can easily be added to the food of our pets, following the right feeding instructions. Nutrient supplements with kelp are available for specific pet requirements like antioxidant, skin and coat and joint and bone products.
There is also dehydrated raw pet food with kelp which can be added to water and then to a pet’s meal.
Including kelp in our food helps us to maintain a balanced diet.
Kelp provides many health benefits like a healthy thyroid, healthy nails, teeth and skin, strong muscles and bones, improved metabolism, helps with weight loss, etc. Hence, include kelp in your diet and your pets diet and everyone can enjoy good health.