5 Kelp Benefits for Your Health

This superfood is a dark, leafy green from under the sea.

Kelp plant floating underwater.

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Kelp, a popular Asian food for centuries, is becoming mainstream as a superfood in the West. Looking for a nutritious vegetable? Take a deep dive and look underwater where forests of brown seaweed surge in the waves.

Kelp is not the nori of sushi roll fame. Kelp is thicker and taller, growing an astounding foot and a half in 24 hours, according to Dr. Axe. It forms forests along the Pacific Coast that reach heights of 260 feet. There are some 30 types of kelp, the best-known being the kombu of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisine.

Kelp can be found raw, powdered, pickled, cooked, or in supplement form. There are dried kelp flakes that are used for seasoning, or frozen cubes that can be placed in smoothies, soups, and sauces. Looking for a crunchy, healthy snack or salad topping? Roasted kelp is satisfying and nutritious.

If you buy it raw, choose organic. Kelp can be sauteed, steamed, or boiled, then used to make miso soup and fish broth, or it can be added to salads and even bread. It adds a savory taste, which is the Japanese equivalent of the flavor they coined “umami.” Here is a plunge into five nutritional benefits of kelp.

One of the best sources of natural iodine

As iodine is so important for maintaining health, it is preferable to have it in natural form. Kelp is the ideal choice, with one pound of raw kelp offering 2,500 mcg of iodine, according to Healthline. As an adult should have just 150 mcg a day, a moderate portion is ideal.

Iodine is also known to be important for hormone health, assisting in the production of hormones T3 and T4, according to the National Institutes of Health. These assist in raising energy levels as well as improving brain function.

Iodine is also connected to improving immune response and has shown to have beneficial effects on fibrocystic breast disease. Instead of using salt, sprinkle kelp flakes to season your food.

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Rich in vitamins and minerals

Kelp is packed with so many vitamins and minerals, it is no surprise that kelp is a superfood.  Kelp is brimming with vitamin K1, offering 55 percent of the daily value, according to Healthline. Mostly found in leafy greens (and sea greens), K1 is good for maintaining bone, health, blood clotting, and heart health.

Kelp also offers 45 percent of the daily value of folate, according to Healthline. Known as vitamin B9, folate is important for cell division and the formation of DNA, as well as reducing cancer risk.

Eating kelp also increases levels of magnesium, iron, pantothenic acid, calcium, and vitamin A. Packed with power, bringing this seaweed to your table, is a nutritional win for you and your family.

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High in antioxidants

Antioxidants assist in protecting the body from disease. Kelp is high in carotenoids and flavonoids which help battle free radicals, according to Healthline. Kelp also contains manganese and zinc, antioxidant minerals that offer cardiovascular assistance and may help prevent cancer.

An important compound found in many varieties of kelp is called fucoidan. It helps fight blood-related issues and cancer, according to Dr. Axe. A study shows that fucoidan may cause cancer lung cells. With such research, kelp is becoming known as a very successful cancer-fighting food.

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May treat diabetes

Although research is ongoing, scientists find that eating kelp and other seaweed reduces blood glucose levels. A study involving 20 Koreans with type 2 diabetes showed that eating kelp increased the activity of antioxidant enzymes and improved glycemic control.

It is the fucoidan in kelp that is of importance to those with type 2 diabetes. Fucoidan has been shown to prevent blood clots, which is a risk factor for those with type 2 diabetes, according to Dr. Axe.

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May help prevent bone loss

When it comes to bone loss, the compound found in kelp called fucoidan is a shining star once again. A study shows that fucoidan in seaweed helped prevent bone loss at an advanced age and improved the mineral density of bones. The vitamin K in kelp also helps create denser bones, according to Dr. Axe. So if you are at risk of getting osteoporosis, seaweed may offer you protection.

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