Following a healthy diet is very important to stave off diseases. Foods with high levels of critical nutrients provide us with the best chance of living healthy.
One such food is kelp which belongs to the brown algae family and grows in oceans around the world. Kelp is considered a superfood for it has over 70 nutrients – zinc, manganese, copper, potassium and iron.
It is the best source of bioavailable iodine. Kelp is also rich in sodium, Vitamins A, D, E, B1, B12, B2, K and amino acids. It is popularly used as a substitute for salt and also as an addition to various dishes
Using kelp from the right sources is critical for most of the world’s oceans are polluted. Hence choose kelp harvested from protected waters which can be found off the coasts of Norway, Iceland, North West United States, Hawaii and Canada.
Spinach is classified as a leafy green vegetable. It is rich in vitamins, fiber, iron, manganese, potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron, phosphorous, copper and zinc.
There are also trace levels of selenium in spinach. Vitamins A, K, C, E, riboflavin and B6 are some of the vitamins found in spinach.
There are also traces of niacin and thiamin. This is considered one of the most nutritious foods and is high on the nutritional charts. Spinach can be incorporated in many ways in our daily diet. There are 23 calories in 100g spinach.
Considering the high nutritional value of spinach, it offers various health benefits. It has anti-cancer properties and is a powerful antioxidant due to the presence of flavonoids.
The magnesium content in spinach helps in lowering blood pressure. Vitamin K and calcium provide bone health. Vitamin C content provides anti-inflammatory benefits. Other benefits include protection from heart diseases, improved brain functioning and better eyesight.
Nutritional Comparison of Kelp and Spinach
Both spinach and kelp are rich in nutrients. Spinach is more widely used and easily available as against kelp. Both contain a wide range of vitamins and minerals and are low in fat and calories, high in fiber and protein content. Let us look at some specific comparisons of both.
Both spinach and kelp contain vitamin K needed to help build bones and regulate the ability of bone cells to bind minerals. As far as the nutrient content, spinach contains 400% of RDV (recommended daily value) of vitamin K and kelp has 55%. Both also contain phosphorous (6% each) and calcium (kelp – 17% and spinach – 10%) needed for bone health.
Spinach contains very powerful antioxidant properties with a 100g serving giving us 13% vitamin E and 31% RDV vitamin C, while kelp provides 7% vitamin E and 3% vitamin C. Spinach also contains carotenoids (zeaxanthin and lutein) which help to reduce risk of degenerative eye conditions while kelp does not have any carotenoids.
Two nutrients needed for the proper functioning of the immune system are zinc and vitamin A. Zinc maintain stable cell functioning and helps to improve chemical reactions.
Vitamin A protects the body from bacteria attacks. Both protect the fetus and help neurological development. Folate prevents birth defects. Both spinach and kelp contain all these nutrients. Spinach contains 5% zinc, 45% folic acid and 312% RDV of vitamin A in 100g.
Kelp on the other hand contains 9% zinc, 45% folic acid and 4% vitamin A.
As far as iodine content is concerned, kelp is far superior to spinach. It is the best bioavailable source of iodine. Iodine is critical for maintain thyroid and other glandular health.
Care must be taken not to overdose on iodine, for different varieties contain different quantities of iodine, varying from 45-57000 mcg iodine per capsule of kelp supplement.
According to the ‘World’s Healthiest Rating’ for vegetables, spinach is gets the top rank for its nutrient richness, containing a healthy blend of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, flavonoids and carotenoids.
Here is the percentage daily value of a few essential nutrients found in 1cup cooked spinach (180g).
- Vitamin K – 1110.6%
- Vitamin A – 377.3%
- Folate – 65.7%
- Magnesium – 39.1%
- Iron – 35.7%
- Vitamin C – 29.4%
- Vitamin E – 18.7%
- Fiber – 17.2%
- Calories (41) – 2%
According to the ‘World’s Healthiest Rating’ for vegetables, while kelp is considered a great addition to our diets, most people in the West have no idea how to use this sea vegetable. Kelp is mostly used in Asian (Japanese) cuisine. However, this food can be easily used as a seasoning for various dishes and as a substitute for table salt.
The following is the percentage daily value of a few essential nutrients found in 0.25 cup cooked help (20g).
- Vitamin K – 16.5%
- Folate – 9%
- Magnesium – 6%
- Calcium – 3.3%
- Iron – 3.1%
- Tryptophan – 3.1%
- Calories(8) – 0%
Ways to use kelp and spinach in diet
There are many ways that kelp and spinach can be used in our diets. Kelp can be taken as a supplement or included in soups, salads, entrees, smoothies or hot or cold beverages.
Spinach is easily available fresh or frozen all year round. It can be eaten cooked or raw and there are various recipes to include spinach in salads, baked dishes, curries etc.
Both spinach and kelp contain a high concentration of essential nutrients. Using either or both in our diets will give us a balanced diet and good health.