Benefits of Kelp
Kelp, a species of seaweed, is uncommon in Western diets, but the benefits of kelp might surprise you. In fact, the benefits of kelp aren’t just restricted to the world of nutrition. Kelp has wide ranging applications. It’s fundamental purpose (or ecological niche, for you academics) is at the bottom of the food chain, sustaining diverse underwater ecosystems…something has to be at the bottom of the food chain! Interestingly, a 2008 study from England even suggested that kelp may be a viable source of renewable energy. While we’re going to talk specifically about the benefits of eating kelp, we’ll offer one major benefit that is unrelated to diet:
1. Kelp is sustainable
Because kelp “can grow as fast as half a meter a day,” we can eat plenty of it and be confident that we aren’t disrupting any ecosystems. So by eating kelp, you’re getting the nutritional benefits (which we’ll discuss below). But when kelp is harvested, more kelp will grow in its place, so it actually benefits kelp and the whole underwater ecosystem!
Environmental impact may or may not be a factor in your dietary decisions, but it’s a clear benefit of eating kelp.
Kelp Benefit #1: Sustainability
Now, let’s move on to the nutritional benefits of kelp.
2. Kelp is a great source of vitamins and minerals
Especially magnesium, vitamin K, and folate. It also contains a considerable amount of calcium, iron, and manganese.
Because it has such high amounts of vitamins and minerals, kelp is sometimes packaged and sold as a nutritional supplement, but we do not recommend taking a kelp supplement.
Why? Because kelp supplements have been shown to increase urinary arsenic levels. This is a problem for those of us who enjoy not dying.
Kelp Benefit #2: Vitamins and Minerals
3. Kelp aids weight loss
Kelp, like most leafy greens (underwater or not), is perfect to incorporate in a weight loss diet. When you’re dieting, you want to limit calories. Take a look at the above nutrition facts, and note that kelp contains only 43 calories in a 100g serving!
The second, and perhaps more important part, is that kelp is nutrient dense. So you’re getting more bang for your buck nutritionally speaking. When you’re limiting calories on a weight loss diet, every calorie counts (even if you aren’t counting calories — zing!). You need to be sure to get adequate micronutrients through foods like kelp — i.e. vegetables — because they are low calorie, and pack a huge nutritional punch.
Eat some kelp next time you’re trying to lose weight, but make sure to keep your net calories in a deficit!
Kelp Benefit #3: Weight Loss
These are just three of the benefits of kelp, but they’re the three most significant benefits. Just to recap, let’s summarize our list:
Benefits of Kelp
- Vitamins and Minerals
- Weight Loss
Our conclusion: Kelp is definitely Good for you, but we can’t classify it as Good Food because it just isn’t tasty enough to meet our standards. That said, I’m sure a knowledgeable cook could incorporate kelp into a very tasty dish (like the kelp salad pictured above).
“British report: Use kelp to produce energy.” Christiansen, Ryan C. http://www.biomassmagazine.com/articles/2166/british-report-use-kelp-to-produce-energy/.
 Wikipedia. “Kelp.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kelp.
 Walkin, O., Douglas, D.E. “Health Food Supplements Prepared from Kelp—A Source of Elevated Urinary Arsenic.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1955986/.