For a lot of people, there’s an instinctual aversion to seaweed. That gross, slimy stuff that washes up on shore isn’t something we want to touch, let alone eat. But many types of seaweed have proven to be very beneficial, especially when eaten. Kelp is one such seaweed.
Kelp is nothing like the stuff you see on the beach. It can form massive underwater forests of green throughout the shallows of the ocean. One strand of kelp (called a stipe) can grow nearly as long as a football field.
When eaten, as it has been for hundreds of years, kelp can help with a variety of health issues. Rich in vitamins and minerals— such as selenium, boron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D, E, and amino acids— it’s a great natural source of trace minerals, and due to its naturally salty taste, many people use it as a salt substitute.
Kelp is also rich in iodine, which is an essential element for bodily functions. Iodine specifically helps your thyroid— which controls metabolism, energy, and growth— to function properly. The thyroid absorbs iodide and releases hormones back into your body. If your body is deficient in iodine, it reduces your metabolism, slowing it down as much as 50 percent. This may be a major factor in being overweight or obese. Kelp helps supplement your iodine intake, which will increase thyroid function and therefore, increase your metabolism. As an added bonus, the natural iodine found in kelp is safer and often more effective than chemical iodine.
The high levels of iodine found in kelp may also help combat free radicals— highly reactive atoms that damage cells, proteins, and DNA. These radicals bombard our bodies daily— taking form in UV radiation, air pollution, tobacco smoke, infection, stress, and more— by altering the chemical structure of our cells. Research has shown that we can combat these free radicals through regularly eating kelp or taking dietary supplements with kelp. They provide the body with antioxidant-rich vitamins and minerals, which counteract free radicals by “absorbing the damage of the free radicals upon themselves,” says holistic writer Victoria Anisman-Reiner, “so that our bodies and cellular membranes are not affected.” This helps detoxify the body and greatly assists in weight loss and overall health.
Rich in calcium, potassium, and iron, kelp can be highly beneficial to women, including those who are pregnant or nursing. The health benefits of kelp don’t end here. It may also help with:
- Hair loss
- Regulation of body temperature
- Pancreas, prostate and liver health
- Water retention
- Energy levels
- Controlling appetite
- Cholesterol levels
- Proper pH levels
- Mineral deficiencies
- Overall gland health
All in all, Kelp has proven to be one of the most well-rounded foods available. It may even act as a natural antibiotic. Sounds like everyone could benefit from adding a dash of seaweed to their diet!