Do You Know How Healthy (And Good) Kelp Is?

March 20, 2012

I discovered kelp one day while I was having lunch with my friend Agata at Earth Matters in the LES, NYC. She grabbed a box from the fridge that contained what appeared to be pesto noodles.
They didn’t looked exactly like regular noodles, more of a squishy version of them. I was a bit skeptical, but she made me try them and I must admit, they were awesome.
They were noodles made of kelp, an algae. Now, I know in general that algaes are a pretty amazing food, but what I didn’t know to what extent kelp is  awesome.
Truth to be told we should all try to integrate more kelp in our eating regimens.
Not only because it’s a healthy thing to do, but also as growing algae is cheap and sustainable - hence a good thing for our beloved Earth!

What is kelp?
Kelps are large seaweeds belonging to the brown algae species. They grow in underwater forests in oceans. They are known for their high growth rate: as fast as 1.7 ft (50 centimeters) a day. They grow so fast that they can ultimately reach up 100 to 260 ft (30 to 80 metres) height.
And that’s explains why they are a sustainable food, just leave them alone and they will grow as high as you can remember.
Giant kelp can be harvested fairly easily because of its surface canopy and growth habit of staying in deeper water.
There are around 30 different species of kelp, and most of them are edible.

What is it used for?
In great amount, kelp ash can be used in soap and glass production.
Alginate, a kelp-derived carbohydrate, is used to thicken products such as ice cream, jelly, salad dressing, and toothpaste, as well as an ingredient in exotic dog food and in manufactured goods.
Alginate powder is also employed frequently in general dentistry and orthodontics for making impressions of the upper and lower arches.
Kelp is also used as a seaweed fertilizer.
Finally, edible species of kelp are consumed more often in kitchens around the world (below you’ll find more about it!)

Health benefits
Kelp is considered a super-food because of all the nutrients it contains.
It is a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc and Copper, and a very good source of Vitamin K, B, C and E, Riboflavin, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Boron, Magnesium, and Manganese.
Kelp is rich in sodium alginate, which is an element effective at protecting the body from radiation and removing it.
It’s also a rich source of iodine, which is a crucial nutrient for the thyroid. A deficiency in iodine leads to goiter, or swelling of the thyroid, and metabolism disruption.

Kelp for weight loss

In 2010 a group of researchers in the University of Newcastle found that the alginate in sea kelp was better at preventing fat absorption than most over-the-counter slimming treatments in laboratory trials.
In fact, it has been alleged that kelp could be the answer to the obesity epidemic, potentially reducing the body's fat retention by more than 75%, say scientists.
"This suggests that if we can add the natural fibre to products commonly eaten daily - such as bread, biscuits and yoghurts - up to three quarters of the fat contained in that meal could simply pass through the body" said team leader Dr Iain Brownlee.
Alginates not only have great potential for weight management adding them to food also has the added advantage of boosting overall fibre content.

Side effects

As with a lot of foods over consumption of kelp is not recommended.
In particular, one of the most important side effects of kelp is thyroid imbalance, which can be attributed to its high iodine content. As we mentioned earlier Iodine is required for smooth functioning of the thyroid gland, but excessive amount of this mineral can cause hyperthyroidism.
Apart from thyroid imbalance, excessive consumption of kelp can lead to gastrointestinal problems like nausea and diarrhea, as kelp is a natural laxative.
Other side effects are less notorious and limited to individuals that have already pre-existing conditions.

How can we enjoy kelp?

Kombu, one of the most common species of edible kelp, is a very important ingredient in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisines.
Kombu is used to flavor broths and stews, as a savory garnish for rice and other dishes, as a vegetable, and a primary ingredient in popular snacks.
Transparent sheets of kelp (oboro konbu) are used as an edible decorative wrapping for rice and other foods.
More recently kelp has been sold in the form of noodles made of kelp, water and sodium alginate.

Kelp Noodles are fat-free, gluten-free, and very low in carbohydrates, and calories.
Their noodle form and neutral taste allow for a variety of uses including salads, stir-fries, hot broths, and casseroles, while their healthful content provides a rich source of trace minerals including iodine, which kelp is well known for.
No cooking is required for kelp noodles. Just soak in water, rinse and enjoy. One of the nicest ways to enjoy kelp noodles is with basil pesto (either regular or vegan) or sundried tomatoes pesto (as per picture above), definitely a must try!


  1. I've never seen kelp noodles but I'm definitely on the lookout. That dish is beautiful.

  2. I absolutely love kelp noodles- I put them in a stir-fry with tofu and broccoli with a peanut sauce (made from peanut flour and Bragg's liquid aminos). I love the texture of them (and the calorie content!!).
    I wasn't aware that kelp aided in weight loss- that makes me like them even more!

    1. I'm definitely going to try your recipe: sounds delicious.
      Thanks Lauren for sharing this!

  3. I'm a kelp noodle addict!! I love them especially with vegan pesto and peanut flour sauce, yum!!

  4. Kelp is an algae that is edible and can be used as a fertilizer too. It is healthy and contains so many vitamins and minerals. It is easy to grow and is sustainable so good for earth. The best way to use kelp is using it as seaweed fertilizer. Kelp noodles are easy to make and they are delicious too. They are widely used as food material around the world.