Kelp Health Benefits That Will Surprise You

There are many kinds of vegetables that bring you various health benefits, but aside from eating the edible seaweed wrappings on sushi, have you ever considered trying out sea veggies?

Enter kelp, a large brown algae that is commonly called seaweed. A staple in Asian cuisine, kelp has at least 30 different varieties and can be consumed raw, powdered or dried.

Kelp's main health benefit is that it is packed with the following vitamins: 

  • Vitamin K, which both aids with bone metabolism and helps produce the protein that is a key to making blood clots.
  • Vitamin A, on the other hand, has numerous health functions in your body, from making sure you have optimal eye health to supporting the immune system and reproduction while helping the heart, lungs, kidneys and other organs work optimally.

In addition, kelp is also rich in vitamin B12, along with the minerals calcium, iron and magnesium.

A sea superfood rich in vitamins and minerals, kelp has other health benefits that will surprise you:

Supports Thyroid Function 

A major natural source of iodine, kelp aids in thyroid hormone production, reducing the risk of goiter (an enlargement of the thyroid gland that is caused by an iodine deficiency) and metabolism disruptions, which can lead to weight changes among other symptoms. 

However, it is good to know that while iodine deficiency can affect your health, too much of it can also be problematic. Since the tolerable upper intake level for iodine is 1,100 mcg for adults, consuming beyond the recommended limit can cause many of the same problems resulting from a lack of iodine, including goiters, thyroid gland inflammation and thyroid disorders. To avoid those, only consume the right amounts of kelp during a meal.

Bone Health

Aside from being a great source of vitamins and nutrients, kelp is well known for being a plant-based source of calcium. In fact, compared to other vegetables, including kale, it is a better source of calcium. In addition to promoting bone development, calcium also aids in blood flow and muscle function.

Weight Maintenance 

Although more research is needed for confirmation, kelp is said to contain a natural fiber called alginate, which has been found by studies to inhibit absorption of gut fat by 75 percent. This results in it being researched as a weight maintenance supplement that could enhance food such as yogurt. In addition, studies suggested that kelp also aids in blood glucose management.

Enhances Longevity 

Kelp can also lead you to a long and happy life. Specifically, it is a dietary staple in Japanese cuisine, with over 21 percent of Japanese meals containing different kinds of kelp, and is suggested to be a contributing factor to the Japanese above-average life spans.

Kelp Giant kelp is a species of algae, but it’s only one of many different kinds of algae that can serve as sources of alternative protein. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock