As Americans, we’re always looking for the next diet trend or tasty healthy food to add to our fridges and pantries. First it was all about kale and that paleo life, then we moved on to ginger and vegan raw diets, and now? We’ve gone beyond food grown on earth.
Kelp is the new food craze that seems to be creeping up on the health food world. David Chang, chef and founder of Momofuku is a big proponent of the many kelp benefits you can enjoy from eating it regularly. So much so, he put it into his custom-made Sweetgreen salad bowl last year as a way to push Americans to catch up with parts of Asia and the rest of the world where the slimy stuff is a staple.
If you’ve ever enjoyed the seaweed salad that accompanies your sushi dinner or you just love the smell of saltwater — you’re probably going to enjoy this new kelp benefits trend.
Why exactly are people eating kelp? Why is kelp good for you? We’ve got answers to all of your questions and a few delicious recommendations for ways to eat and reap kelp benefits below.
What is Kelp?
Kelp is a type of seaweed that’s a member of the sea vegetable family. It’s a sea algae that’s packed with daily vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Kelp grows in nutrient-rich shallow waters in many coastal areas around the world including the Northern Atlantic and Pacific waters in the US.
What Are The Nutritional Benefits of Kelp?
There are numerous kelp benefits when it comes to nutrition. As kelp grows, it absorbs the nutrients in the water around it. It’s one of the best food sources of natural iodine which is essential to hormone production in humans.
1. Kelp May Boost Iodine Levels in the Body
Proper iodine levels helps to boost your energy levels as well as your brain function. However, too much iodine can also cause thyroid problems, so it’s important to regulate your intake.
2. Kelp May Help You Lose Weight
Kelp is also very low in fat and calorie content for being so nutritious. A couple of spoon fulls of the stuff typically has only four calories but is packed with calcium, iron and magnesium so don’t be shy in adding it to your stir fries or rice bowls. It adds nutrients to the body without being filled with calories or useless fats, energizes you and may help boost your metabolism.
3. Kelp May Help Those With Obesity and Diabetes
Kelp can also help those with diabetes and obesity fight potential negative health effects by regulating blood glucose levels and aiding in glycemic management. Along with aiding the thyroid comes a whole host of important regulatory practices in the body, which has benefits that radiate outwards far beyond the gut.
Needless to say, this sea plant has its vitamin game on point. Now let’s talk about how to prepare and eat this super sea veggie.
How to Eat Kelp
Whenever possible, it’s best to get your nutrients from foods in your diet rather than supplements, since it can be difficult to regulate the nutritional content of dried or powdered kelp supplements.
If you can’t access kelp in its full, robust form, however, we’ve included some trusty supplements below that will help you get there.
Where to Buy Kelp
You can find kelp at most health-food markets or the Asian section of your regular grocery store. Try kelp noodles in your pasta rather than regular pasta and you’ve found yourself a delicious gluten-free alternative! You can also snack on dried kelp, or reconstitute it with a little bit of water to restore it to its former glory for stir fries, rice bowls or lunch salads.
However you decide to approach trying kelp for the first time, keep it mind that it’s been helping ocean and marine life persist for years. It’s healthy, grows in abundance on our shores and is even environmentally-friendly.
Is Kelp Good for the Environment?
The short answer is yes, when you decide to eat kelp you’re making an environmentally-conscious decision. Meat production continues to be a fairly environmentally-destructive practice and while access to more information about plant-based diets has helped we still need more alternatives.
Luckily chefs and dedicated foodies alike are hopping on the kelp train for its taste, nutritional benefits and environmental impact.
Rising sea levels has caused the Gulf of Maine’s water temperatures to rise more than most parts of the ocean, which yielded a 40% lower lobster catch this past year. For the fishermen whose livelihoods depend on this crustacean, this spelled out bad news. Kelp has been their saving grace. As the number of lobsters has dropped, the amount of kelp they can harvest has grown and they’ve been able to sell it for a profit.
If we can create a market for kelp as a “cool” food worth snacking on fishermen and the oceans they work in will feel the positive effects. Kelp also isolates and removes carbon dioxide stored in the ocean and can reverse acidification and negative effects of low pH levels — all of which is caused by climate change.
More kelp, more good stuff for the environment, more delicious vitamins for us. Win, win, win. Now, let’s talk about some great kelp products to work into your diet.
Natural Nutra Kelp Iodine Supplement
This kelp supplement is sourced from the North Atlantic and boasts all the nutritional benefits of kelp in a small, convenient vegetable pill. It supports the glandular function in your thyroid that regulates hormones and metabolic function. This brand manufactures their supplements in the US and guarantees purity of ingredients and formulas through scientifically-backed processes that are regularly inspected. This tablet supplement is 100% vegan, gluten free and evades the taste and smell of seaweed if that’s not your thing.
Oregon’s Wild Harvest Organic Kelp Capsules
This organic kelp supplement is produced and harvested off the coast of Nova Scotia and is rich in all the nutrients kelp promises. It’s got the iodine for thyroid and metabolic function and is made without artificial flavors, colors, GMO, dairy, gluten or soy products. Each capsule has 600mg of organic kelp thallus to boost your energy and brain function as well as keep your hormones in check.
Numami Organic Kombu Kelp Flakes
Get your kelp delivered in a smaller, dried, flaky fashion with these nutritious kelp flakes. They’re harvested in the Northern Atlantic and freeze-dried without any additives to preserve the nutrients without losing flavor. Sprinkle a little on your salads or down 1/2 teaspoon with meals to get your recommended daily iodine intake.
This baby seaweed is responsibly grown and purifies the ocean as it develops, supporting sea life as it garners nutrients for your diet. The flakes have a soft texture and will blend well with any recipe you wish to add them to. There are also 60 servings in this bag, a great value without spending too much money to try out this new supplement.
Micro Ingredients Organic Kelp Powder
If you prefer your supplements in powder form for soups and smoothies this organic kelp powder from Micro Ingredients is the way to go. It’s got all the kelp benefits you’re looking for including vitamins A, B2, B12, C and D as well as the iodine for thyroid support, fatty acids and antioxidants. It’s got no fake stuff in it including no GMOs, no additives, no preservatives, fillers or gluten. It’s blend-able and vegan friendly as well.
Maine Coast Sea Vegetables Whole Leaf Sugar Kelp
This bag contains whole leaf kelp sustainably harvested in Maine and certified organic by OCIA. It’s tested for cleanliness before bagging and is free from microbes, heavy metals, radioactivity and other pollutants you don’t want in your body.
It’s a great source of vegetable protein, fiber, iron, potassium, magnesium and other vitamins and minerals. Add these flakes to salads, soups or snack them right out of the bag to make your vitamin intake easy and delicious.
Akua Kelp Jerky Variety Pack
Fan of beef jerky? Well then you should probably try kelp jerky, this nutritious snack from Akua that contains plant protein, fiber and 100% of your daily needed iodine intake all in one delicious package.
This kelp is 100% plant-based and is made with only a few ingredients including kelp, shiitake mushrooms, coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar and salt. Delicious and it comes in three different flavors to spice up your kelp journey — sesame & nori sea salt, spicy thai & spirulina, and rosemary & maple bbq.