Kelp is a majestic underwater plant that belongs to the seaweed family. This deep green plant is known apart from its beauty for its high nutritive value. Kelp can be easily consumed as a food supplement or added to recipes.
Kelp contains at least 70 vitamins, enzymes, minerals, trace elements and proteins. It contains vitamins B1, B12, B2, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium and iodine.
Kelp improves thyroid functioning and also helps improve energy levels, weight loss, liver function, brain function, constipation, digestion, functioning of pituitary gland and pancreas, improve symptoms of arthritis and memory loss.
Kelp is the only source of natural vegetable Vitamin D. It contains chlorophyll and naturally chelated minerals. Sodium alginate found in kelp removes heavy metals and other toxic radioactive elements from the body.
Nutritional Value of Kelp
Kelp is rich in various nutrients.
Nutrition facts: A 10g serving (2 tbsp / 1/8 cup) of raw kelp provides us with:
- Calories – 4
- Total Fat – 0g (0% DV)
- Cholesterol – 0mg (0% DV)
- Sodium – 23mg (1% DV)
- Total carbohydrate – 1g
- Dietary fiber – 0g (1% DV)
- Sugars – 0g
- Protein – 0g
- Vitamin A – 0%
- Vitamin C – 1%
- Calcium – 2%
- Iron – 2%
DV is the percent daily value based on a typical 2000 calorie diet. This will vary depending on each individual’s calorie requirements.
From the point of view of nutrition, edible kelp is a low calorie food. It has a high concentration of proteins, vitamins and minerals. It contains low lipid levels and high content of dietary fiber – especially soluble polysaccharides.
In fact dry weight of kelp contains around 33-75% of dietary fiber. It is a good source of vitamin C, pantothenic acid, copper, zinc, riboflavin, vitamin K, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese and folate. This food has very high sodium content.
It has an inflammatory factor of 1 which means it possesses mildly anti-inflammatory properties. It has an estimated glycemic load of 0 which means that it is does not control blood sugar levels.
The ‘NutritionData’s’ opinion on kelp is that it has a rating of 4 ½ stars out of 5 for providing optimal health and help with weight loss. For weight gain it has a 2/5 star rating. It has an amino acid score of 79 (a score of >=100 is considered a complete protein).
The nutrient balance score is 80 /100 which indicates that it does contain a high level of nutrients required by the body and can be considered a very good nutritionally balanced food.
According to the ‘World’s Healthiest Food Rating’ chart, an excellent rating warrants a DV of 75% or more, very good rating a 50% DV or more and good rating 25% DV or more.
According to this chart, we can see the food rating of sea vegetables like kelp. 20g of kelp has an excellent rating for vitamin K providing 16.5% DV. It has a very good rating for folate (9% DV) and magnesium (6% DV). It has a good rating for calcium with (3.4% DV), iron (3.2% DV) and tryptophan (3.1% DV). Kelp also has an excellent nutrient density rating for vitamin K, a very good for folate and magnesium and a good rating for calcium, iron and tryptophan.
- Calorie content: 1 ounce of kelp gives us 12 calories and this represents 1% daily value.
- Fat: Kelp is relatively low in fat (0.2g per 1 ounce serving). Of this saturated fats constitute only 0.1g. It contains omega-3 (2.2mg) and omega-6 (5.6mg) both heart-healthy fatty acids.
- Vitamins: Kelp has sufficient vitamins like A, B2, B1, B6, B12, folic acid and pantothenic acid for our daily requirements. It provides adequate levels of vitamin B12 for vegans. It is a wonderful source of vitamin K, giving us 23% DV per serving. It also has high amounts of folate (13% DV) and vitamin A (32.5IU).
- Minerals: A single serving (1oz) kelp gives 8.9mg potassium, 16.8mg calcium and other minerals like iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc and copper.
- Iodine: Kelp is extremely high levels of iodine. This could be the reason whey there is lower incidences of tumors of the breast and thyroid-related disorders like goiter among women in Japan who consume a diet rich in seaweeds like kelp.
- Selenium: this mineral is also present in kelp. Selenium acts along with iodine in regulating the thyroid hormone.
- Sodium alginate found in kelp has a healing effect on the digestive tract and prevents absorption of cesium, plutonium, mercury and cadmium – all toxic metals. Algin also guards the body against radiation by preventing absorption of Strontium-90 found in weapons facilities and nuclear plants.
Best way to have kelp
Kelp can be used powdered or granulated. The entire kelp plant is sun dried before being cleaned and processed. Powdered kelp can be sprinkled on soups, entrees or salads.
Kelp is a great addition to a smoothie. It can also be added to hot or iced teas. Kelp as a supplement is available as powder, gel, tablet, liquid or capsule.
Some nutritionists suggest that liquid kelp is the most potent form since it is easily absorbed by the body. Since kelp has high sodium levels, it is often used as a seasoning in place of salt.
Precautions with Kelp
Great care must be taken when we consume kelp. Always know the origin of the product you are using. Most ocean waters are polluted and this could cause kelp to be contaminated by high levels of arsenic and mercury.
Usually kelp harvested around the waters of Canada, Hawaii, Iceland and North West United States is considered to be safe to consume. These waters are protected, relatively free from pollution and pristine.
Kelp must not be used continuously. Always give a 2 week break after using it for 2 weeks.
This will prevent overdose of iodine, which could cause problems with the thyroid gland. Kelp is generally not advised for pregnant women. Always consult your doctor before using kelp products.