Seaweed and kelp are no longer considered “exotic foods” only eaten at sushi restaurants. These two plants of the sea have taken the health food industry by storm the last few years and for good reason: They are nutrient-dense and offer a lot of incredible health benefits!
What is the Difference Between Seaweed and Kelp?
Seaweed is really a general umbrella term used to describe over 10,000 different marine algae. These ocean plants use light from the sun and carbon dioxide and other nutrients from the saltwater to grow. Seaweed comes in a variety of shapes, colors, and flavors.
Sea kelp is not the same thing as seaweed, per se, but rather describes the largest subgroup of seaweed. Kelp is a brown variety of seaweed that is most often found along rocky coastlines.
Kelp has been called a superfood because it is packed with nutrients. For instance, in just one serving – roughly 28 grams – kelp contains:
- 0.5 gram protein
- 0.2 gram fat
- 0.4 gram fiber
- 18.5 micrograms vitamin K (23% DV)
- 50.4 micrograms folate (13% DV)
- 33.9 milligrams magnesium (8% DV)
- 47 milligrams calcium (5% DV)
- 0.8 milligram iron (4% DV)
- 0.1 milligram manganese (3% DV)
Health Benefits of Kelp
For the purpose of this article, I’m going to focus on the specific health benefits of kelp:
Excellent Source of Iodine
A large part of the population does not get enough iodine in their diet. Thyroid health and other aspects of our health rely on the body getting enough iodine. Kelp is a great way to maintain optimal iodine levels.
A Natural Ally in the Battle of the Bulge
Kelp boasts specific fat-fighting properties. Fucoxanthin is a protein found in most varieties of kelp and has been shown to significantly reduce fat tissue. In addition, Alginates are specific molecules in kelp that help your body expel body fat via excrement.
May Treat Certain Types of Cancer
The protein I just mentioned in kelp has also been shown to be effective against a number of types of prostate cancer. Another potent nutrient in kelp called fucoidan has been shown to cause cancer cells to die in leukemia, colon, breast, and lung cancer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of health benefits offered by kelp, but these give you an idea of why you may want to start eating more kelp on a weekly basis!