http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-image-seaweed-sugar-kelp-image23964421If you haven’t tried kelp yet, you’re going to want to head out to your local health-food store and get some right now.

Kelp’s nutritional benefits are unmatched by any land-grown plants, even those that are cultivated in the healthiest of soils [1]. And there are other, more unusual benefits to eating kelp regularly.

Keep reading to find out exactly why kelp is the superfood you should use every day.

Iodine

One of the most important minerals found in kelp is iodine.

Some varieties of kelp are able to accumulate iodine up to 30,000 times more concentrated that what is found in sea water.

People who don’t eat enough iodine in their diets are more likely to experience weight gain, low energy, depression, and cognitive impairment.

Iodine is also an essential element for brain development in newborn babies, critical for normal thyroid function, necessary for cardiovascular health, and has been shown to significantly help in the prevention of both stomach and breast cancer [2].

 

Radiation Prevention

Iodine has also been shown to prevent radiation from harming your body.

When you don’t eat enough iodine, your body takes in radioactive iodine-look-alikes to fill the empty spaces where iodine belongs.

But when you have an iodine-rich diet, which will happen when you eat kelp every day, iodine fills up those spaces so there’s no room for the radioactive imposters to lodge themselves in your cells [3].

 

Other Minerals

In addition to iodine, other important minerals found in kelp include calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and vanadium [4].

 

Vanadium, a trace mineral, is perhaps the most obscure constituent found in kelp, and is very good for overall health.

Studies have shown that vanadium can effectively lower blood sugar levels and improve insulin sensitivity in individuals with type 2 diabetes. It also lowers total LDL cholesterol levels, otherwise known as “bad” cholesterol,  leading to a decreased likelihood of cardiovascular disease and heart attack [5].

 

Kelp also contains a unique phytonutrient known as fucoidan (which also goes by the name “sulfated polysaccharides”). These starch-like molecules serve as effective anti-inflammatories, antivirals, and antithrombotics, which help keep your blood and immune system in tip-top shape.

Remove Harmful Heavy Metals

If essential minerals, nutrients, and radiation prevention aren’t enough to convince you, here’s another reason kelp is considered a superfood.

Algin, a phycocolloid found in kelp, is known for its ability to actively bind and trap metallic ions, helping to remove harmful heavy metals from your system as they pass through your G.I. tract.

As an added bonus, algin also adds bulk, softens stool, soothes the gastrointestinal tract, and helps relieve chronic constipation [6].

 

How to Use Kelp

For maximum benefit, it is recommended to consume 5-15 grams of dried seaweed at least twice per week.

I like to grind it up in a food processor, put it in a salt shaker, and sprinkle it on every meal. It’s just as tasty as salt with a lot of added benefit.

Kelp does not require cooking, and is a great addition to soups, salads, and into vegetable dishes. The easiest way to use kelp in meals is to break it up into smaller pieces, soak it in fresh water until it’s tender, and then use it like a vegetable ingredient, raw or cooked [4].

 

Some Things to Keep in Mind

It may take 4-6 weeks before your system gets used to kelp before it is able to use all its good nutrients efficiently [6].

Also, if you are sensitive to iodine, generally allergic to seafood, or have been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, then its best to keep kelp intake to a minimum [1].

 

When you buy kelp, make sure you get it from the best sources.

It is essential that the waters where they are harvested are pure and clean, so commercially packaged items should have a guarantee, or be labeled as organic or reliably and responsibly sourced.

Keep kelp in air tight containers. Once it’s sealed from the environment, dried kelp can stay good for years without losing many of its beneficial qualities.

 

Need help finding good kelp?

You can order old-school style from Ryan Drum, a northwest seaweed expert, by filling out this order form and send it in via snail-mail.

Also check out Nature Spirit Herbs and Maine Coast Sea Vegetables.

 

Do you use kelp or other superfoods in your cooking? Leave a note in the comments section!

 

References:

1. Ryan Drum. (2008). Medicinal Uses of Seaweeds.

2. Nancy Piccone. The Silent Epidemic of Iodine Deficiency. Life Extension Magazine.

3. Ryan Drum. (April, 2013). Radiation Protection using Seaweeds.

4. George Mateljan Foundation. Sea Vegetables.

5. Steven D. Ehrlich. (12 June, 2011). Vanadium. University of Maryland Medical Center.

6. Ryan Drum. Sea Vegetables for Food and Medicine.

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