It is said that the Japanese live longer than everyone else because they eat so much of Kombu. Kombu is a type of sea kelp that is a very famous delicacy in Japan and there is research done to find the possible link between the higher than average lifespan of Japanese people and eating sea kelp. Sea kelp is a type of seaweed and it is one of the many “superfoods” that microorganisms and new unconventional foods are turning out to be. Let’s look at all the reasons why you should consider getting sea kelp in your diet, and why you should avoid it.
Sea kelp is a type of algae that grows in the shallow, nutrient-rich parts of the ocean, mostly coastal areas. These kelps grow in large colonies, spreading hundreds of feet across. Seaweed is truly a superfood because of its nutrient content. Consider spirulina, another seaweed. 60% of its mass is just protein, making it one of the richest sources of protein. Sea kelp is also rich in a plethora of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.
Why should you eat sea kelp?
As already established, sea kelp and other seaweed are rich in nutrients. So even small amounts of it can help people who are deficient in certain nutrients. There are a lot of benefits of having kelp in your diet, some proven, some just speculated. So here’s why you should consider eating sea kelp.
Great source of iodine: The National Institute of Health says that sea kelp is one of the best and richest sources of natural iodine. Iodine is a crucial nutrient for the healthy functioning of the body and the lack of it can create so many issues. Iodine deficiency can lead to:
Excessive weight gain
Lack of energy, tired and weakness
Dry and flaky skin
Lack of concentration, etc.
Vitamin K: Sea kelp is also an excellent source of Vitamin K. This vitamin is essential for proper blood clotting. So a lack of it can result in easy bruising, wounds, and cuts that won’t stop bleeding. In some cases, internal bleeding can also occur.
Iron: Iron is another major nutrient in sea kelp and people who are iron deficient can benefit from it. Oftentimes, women are found to be the most susceptible to iron deficiency. Here’s what a lack of iron can cause;
Fatigue, lack of energy
Cold hands and feet
Graying of hair, brittle nails
Magnesium: Sea kelp has around 27% to 180% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of magnesium. The lack of magnesium can cause muscle tingling, fatigue, spasm, abnormal heartbeat, personality changes, etc.
Calcium: Another excellent mineral that sea kelp is rich in is calcium and I don’t think I need to mention the importance of calcium in our body. It is necessary for the proper functioning of not just the bones, but also muscles, heart, nerves, and skin.
Folate: You may not have heard of the term folate but in common language, it is also called vitamin B12 and it is one of the most important vitamins. It is also a vitamin that most people lack because there are no vegan sources for it. B12 is found in meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy.
Lack of B12 can cause fatigue, lethargy, anemia, headache, nervous issues, etc.
Sodium: Seaweed is also an excellent source of sodium. Sodium deficiency can cause nausea, altered personality, irritability, fatigue, confusion, seizures, etc.
Potassium: The lack of a proper amount of potassium can cause symptoms such as muscle weakness, spasms, numbness, weakness, drowsy or dull feeling, etc. Sea kelp is an excellent source of potassium with as much as 45% of the RDI of potassium.
Manganese: An often ignored mineral, manganese is crucial for several developments and health factors of the body. It is a strong antioxidant, helps and promotes bone growth and density, crucial for blood sugar regulation, important for metabolism, and contributes to the overall health of the thyroid.
Copper: Very similar to iron in terms of deficiency symptoms, copper is also crucial for various functions of the body. Copper deficiency can lead to conditions such as greying of hair, difficulty in understanding and concentrating, etc.
These were all the nutritional benefits of having sea kelp in your diet. It has been an integral part of Asian cuisine, especially Japan with its sushi and kombu delicacies. And today with a rapid burst, seaweed is getting famous by the day in the US and other Western countries. But what about the side effects? Are there any ill-effects of sea kelp? Yes, there are some.
When not to eat it
One can look at the benefits of sea kelp and understand that it lies in its rich nutrient content. So naturally, it will help only those who suffer from a deficiency of it. What about people who have sufficient amounts of these vitamins and minerals and they start grazing sea kelp?
The most adverse effect of sea kelp will be due to the excessive intake of iodine. Since it is so rich in it, eating more than necessary can have some serious effects. Hyperthyroidism is the biggest concern when it comes to the side effects. As we say always and we’ll say it again; consult your dietician or your GP before doing anything with your body.
Before you start thinking about the benefits of sea kelp, it is necessary to know that you lack what it could provide. A burn ointment is only helpful if you have suffered from a burn. Of course, eating it once or twice a week (and if you don’t have hyperthyroidism) is harmless, even beneficial. But before you start stocking up kombu or other sea weed into your house and turn it into a dry aquarium, consult your doctor. This concludes the article.
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