One of the most popular foodstuffs in Asian cuisine is the kelp algae which belongs to the great brown algae family Laminariaceae that grow in underwater forests of shallow oceans.
This algae is also known as kombu, konbu, dashima or haidai.
There are over 30 different kinds of kelp, and the most used one is Saccharina japonica extensively grown in the seas of Korea and Japan.
Over 90% of Japanese kelp comes from the Hokkaido island.
The sea ice coming from Siberia towards Hokkaido brings minerals with it and creates the conditions for the growth of extremely nutritious algae.
Kelp is one of these very nutritious algae, with a rich nutritional profile, and brings it plenty of health benefits with it.
Nutritional composition of kelp
- Kelp algae are chalk full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- They contain enormous amounts of Iodine – one teaspoon of powdered kelp contains up to 20-24mg of iodine, which is 1000% the recommended daily intake!
- They are a great source of potassium, vitamins B, D, C and E, magnesium, zinc, even germanium that helps the healing properties of skin.
- Only 30 grams of kelp can contain up to 12% of the needed daily intake of calcium, the mineral essential to growth and bone and teeth health. This is why it is often recommended for vegans and the lactose intolerant or those avoiding dairy.
- Kelp algae is an unusually large source of glutamic acid that gives it its distinct flavor. Glutamic acid is important to muscles and prostate health. Most people get enough of it through dairy, but this is a great vegan and vegetarian alternative.
- Kelp is a natural source of iron. 30 grams of kelp contains 13% of the recommended daily iron intake, an important factor in hemoglobin creation. A lack of iron is a serious problem because it can lead to anemia, and it is followed by tiredness, weak concentration, exhaustion, a proneness to infections and skin, hair and nail changes.
- This type of algae is filled with fiber – 30 grams contains 7 grams of fiber, and it also has only 83 kcal, so it makes for a great choice if you’re watching your weight.
- The Kombu algae helps the absorption of water in the bowel and gives a greater feeling of fullness and has a laxative effect. It is a natural cure for constipation and indigestion.
One of the best natural substances for the thyroid
The levels of iodine may vary, but they are always present in above average amounts.
Regular consumption of iodine is connected to the better function of the thyroid, better metabolism, higher chances of fighting cancer and other numerous health benefits.
It is also one of the most commonly lacking minerals in our bodies, which most people aren’t aware of.
Kelp aides the normal functioning of the pituitary and thyroid glands, activates the role of iron in the organism, and helps the functioning of the digestive and endocrine systems.
The most important use of this algae is helping the thyroid send iodine to the blood vessels – an important role to the body, especially in times of infection or a weakened immunity.
Because its broad spectrum of effectiveness, it is suitable for a wide array of people, most notably those with endocrine system problems.
A fighter against cancerogenic substances
The anti-cancerogenic properties of brown sea weed has been known for ages in Chinese medicine and Ayurveda.
During the 80ties, scientists have researched the natural supplements of kelp which were at that time used to treat breast cancer.
Studies showed positive results, thanks to the fucoidan compound that helps apoptosis, the self destruction of cancer cells, without any side-effects for the healthy cells.
This compound is also, as it happens, helpful in treating and prevention of herpes and atherosclerosis.
Even though the studies showed the kelp to be more effective than some pharmaceutical treatments, the research had not been continued.
But based on folk medicine and its rich nutrient composition, kelp is a welcome foodstuff in the diets of cancer patients.
The kelp algae also appears to have an anticoagulating effect, and it is used for the prevention of blood-clot formation.
According to a study published in 2011 in Phytotherapy Research, it has been discovered that kelp contains impressive amounts of the polysaccharide PLG, which helps with inflamed tendons.