Are Kelp Algae Healthy? Ingredients and their effects
Kelp (Laminaria japonica), also called kelp, is a brown algae that normally grows in large underwater forests. There are about 30 different types of brown algae. While seaweed can grow in almost any type of salt or fresh water, the kelp algae can only be found in salt water, typically along nutrient-rich, cold, rocky coastlines. Kelp serves as food for many marine life and people eat this seaweed because of its high nutritional value. Kelp – along with other types of edible algae – has been a popular food in Japanese cuisine for hundreds of years. Now this aquatic plant has become common in other parts of the world, which is partly due to the popularity of kelp noodles.
Facts about kelp algae
Nutritional values for 40 grams of kelp, dried:
Fat: 0.2 g
Sodium: 93 mg
Carbohydrates: 3.8 g
Dietary fiber: 0.5 g
Sugar: 0.2 g
Protein: 0.7 g
The carbohydrate content of kelp is very low, only 3.8 grams of carbohydrates per 40 grams of raw algae. It also contains about 0.5 grams of fiber and less than 1 gram of sugar.
Raw Kombu algae contain very little fat.
Kelp is not a good source of protein. There is about 0.7 grams of protein per 40 grams of kelp.
Vitamins and minerals:
Kelp contains many important vitamins and minerals, including folic acid, vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 and also vitamins K, A, C and E. It also contains small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and pantothenic acid. There is also a lot of iodine in kelp. Other minerals are calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium and phosphorus.
Kelp has a high nutritional value because it is very low in calories, but is full of fiber, vitamins and minerals, which as part of a balanced diet offer many health benefits:
Vitamin C: An antioxidant that can help prevent diseases.
Calcium: Promotes bone health.
Iron: Important for blood, muscles and liver.
Magnesium: indispensable for the healthy functioning of muscles and nerve cells.
iodine: Necessary for the production of thyroid hormones and to maintain a healthy metabolism.
Kelp for slimming
Some research has shown that dietary fiber in marine algae, including kelp, can improve satiety, which reduces desire to eat and helps control excessive calorie intake. Kelp itself is low in calories and fat. The dye fucoxanthin, which causes the green coloring of algae and seaweed, has an antioxidant effect and can also help you lose weight.
Lowers the risk of cancer
While more research is needed, three ingredients found in marine algae have shown some potential in the fight against cancer:
- Fucoidan, a fiber that protects and strengthens the immune system
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids
- Polyphenols (antioxidants)
Kelp for high blood pressure
Some of these ingredients, such as fucoidan and fucoxanthin, can also be used against high blood pressure. Folic acid has also been shown to help maintain healthy blood pressure. Seaweed is a good source of this B vitamin.
Dosage and side effects
Kelp is harmless to health when eaten in normal amounts. However, the high levels of iodine and potential heavy metals in seaweed can be harmful if you ingest too much, especially in the form of dietary supplements.
Your recommended daily iodine intake depends on your age and gender. Most adults need 150 micrograms of iodine a day. The upper limit (the maximum that should be consumed in a day) is 1,100 micrograms.
Since the iodine content in kelp and kelp products varies, it can be unclear how much iodine you will consume when consumed. Consuming too much iodine can have serious negative health effects, such as Goiter, inflammation of the thyroid and, in severe cases, thyroid cancer. Exposure to heavy metals can also affect thyroid function.
For this reason, health experts advise pregnant or lactating women and those with kidney or thyroid disorders, such as Hyperthyroidism to avoid eating kelp algae.
An allergy to kelp or other seaweed is rare, but still possible. If you experience symptoms of food allergy (such as swelling or a rash, especially around the mouth) after eating kelp algae, see a doctor.
There are different types of kelp algae, one of them is the Kombu-Tang. Kombu is the Japanese word for kelp, mostly for the species Saccharina japonica utilized. Fresh and dried kelp and kelp noodles are also becoming increasingly popular in Germany. Kelp noodles can now be found in many supermarkets in the Asian food department. You can also buy them online.
Note that the nutritional value of kelp noodles varies depending on the product you buy and the recipe you use. Products that consist only of kelp algae, water and sodium alginate (a natural hydration agent that is obtained from brown algae) are low in calories, carbohydrates and low in fat.
Dried kelp and kelp noodles are usually packaged so that they can be kept in the cupboard for about six months as long as they are unopened. You can keep fresh or dehydrated kelp algae in the refrigerator for a few days.
Prepare or cook kelp algae
Fresh kelp algae can be used in wok dishes and soups, added to salads or mixed in smoothies. When cooking dried beans, you can add dried kelp to the pot to improve the taste and prevent gas formation. Kelp can also give soups and broths a special flavor.
Kelp noodles can be eaten cold or warm, but you should rinse the noodles before eating. They taste great with green salads, as a noodle alternative or with sautéed vegetables and chicken.
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