Kelp: The Anti-Inflammatory, Vegan, Superfood that you may be Missing

by Brian P. Ramos

Kelp: The Anti-Inflammatory, Vegan, Superfood that you may be Missing

Seaweed is not just for sushi anymore. In fact, kelp, a form of seaweed, has made its way into vegan restaurants to the delight of many health-conscious individuals all across the world.

Considered by many to be a superfood due to its significant quantity of nutrients, kelp has been a staple of various Asian cultures for centuries. Its popularity in the western world has been on the rise more recently, as more people discover the many benefits this culinary delight has to offer. Therefore, kelp is quickly becoming part of a healthy, balanced diet for a large number of Americans as well.

Kelp is a natural source of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This type of algae is also effective for weight loss, supports thyroid health, has been proven to reduce the risk of many forms of cancer, and can even strengthen your bones.

Top 7 Kelp Benefits

1. Great Source of Iodine

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has stated that seaweed such as kelp is one of the best natural food sources of iodine, an essential ingredient in the synthesis of key thyroid hormones that regulate your metabolism. Therefore, a deficiency in iodine leads to metabolism disruption and can also lead to an enlargement of the thyroid gland known as goiter.

Iodine is also a vital nutrient that helps support a healthy thyroid, protects against certain kinds of cancer, promotes healthy growth and development in babies and children, and even helps you maintain a healthy brain. However, what may be more concerning than a lack of iodine in our diet is too much of it, which can create health issues as well. Due to a diet high in salt (often supplemented with iodide), we may be getting too much of this key element.

The key is to get a moderate amount to raise energy levels and brain functioning. It is difficult to get too much iodine in natural kelp, despite having up to 2,984 micrograms in some varieties, but this could be an issue with supplements. Therefore, I suggested in a recent video on my YouTube channel to limit the consumption of kelp or other seaweeds to once per week (see the video HERE to learn about other foods you may be overeating).

2. Helps You Lose Weight

Kelp is not just a nutrient-rich food that supports a healthy diet, but it also has a protein with fat-fighting properties. The protein found in most varieties of seaweed is known as fucoxanthin and has been shown to significantly reduce fat tissue. In a 2009 study, researchers found that a combination of pomegranate seed oil with fucoxanthin promoted weight loss.

Another way kelp may help to lose weight is due to special molecules called alginates. These alginates are prevalent in some varieties of kelp more than others. The way that alginates can do this is by modulating the activity of gut lipases, which are important enzymes in fat absorption.

One study examined the effect of kelp on pancreatic lipase. Researchers found that kelp consumption reduced pancreas ability to digest fats and thus reduced absorption. A study published in Food Chemistry found that alginates reduced fat absorption in the small intestine by 75 percent!

Therefore, this seaweed is a vital factor in helping the body expel fat via excrement, rather than absorb large amounts. In essence, this kelp compound is a lipase inhibitor.

3. May Prevent or Treat Diabetes

If it were not enough, kelp may be an excellent option to improve diabetic symptoms. In fact, at Rama’s Rooted Tree and my DNA Hacker Secrets Program, I put people on a tailored-made, whole plant-based diet to reverse the symptoms of diabetes and other chronic ailments.

A 2008 study published in Nutrition Research and Practice found that kelp consumption significantly improved blood glucose levels and glycemic control, and increased antioxidant enzyme activities in patients with type II diabetes. More recently, researchers induced diabetes with alloxan in lab rats. After treating with kelp powder, they found that animals had lower fasting blood glucose levels possibly due to increased secretion of insulin by pancreatic islet cells.

4. Helps with Some Blood-Related Disorders

Many varieties of kelp contain an important compound, called fucoidan, that has been shown to be effective against blood-related problems. For example, it can prevent blood clots that can lead to a stroke or heart attack.

Fucoidan is so effective that researchers have recommended it as an oral antithrombotic agent, which may reduce the need for prescription drugs to treat clotting problems. Fucoidan’s anti-clotting effects may be relevant to those suffering from or at risk for diabetes, as a common complication of diabetes includes excessive clotting. Lastly, fucoidan protects cells in your body from ischemic damage, meaning damage caused by improper levels of blood flow to certain parts of the body.

5. Anti-Cancer Agent

I have written before about the anti-cancer effects of superfoods. Kelp is no exception as it has many nutrients working in concert to protect you against cancer. For example, fucoxanthin found in kelp is effective against different types of prostate cancer. In addition, fucoxanthin can help reduce drug resistance in cancer patients undergoing dangerous chemotherapy treatments, thereby reducing the number of harmful drugs the patient is taking to treat cancer.

However, the king of cancer-fighting nutrients has to be fucoidan. Research has demonstrated that fucoidan causes cancer cells to die in various types of cancers, including leukemia, colon, breast and lung cancer. Therefore, the combination of fucoidan and fucoxanthin makes kelp one of the most effective anti-cancer foods around. However, this does not mean that kelp should be used to cure any diseases or be considered guaranteed protection against disease.

6. Natural Anti-Inflammatory

If you have been following my work, I always recommend following a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods as a general defense against many diseases and even stress. Since inflammation and stress are considered risk factors for many chronic diseases, including kelp in your diet could have many health benefits. Kelp is naturally high in antioxidants, including carotenoids, flavonoids, and alkaloids, which help to fight against disease-causing free radicals.

Moreover, certain kinds of kelp have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties (and serve as antioxidants), meaning they help reduce the overall inflammation in your body, which in turn reduces the likelihood of disease. Again, fucoidan surfaces as a key molecule found in kelp that has been shown to work as an anti-inflammatory and also to improve cholesterol levels in the blood, responsible for cardiovascular problems.

7. Helps Prevent Bone Loss

Are you at risk for osteoporosis or other bone diseases, especially common in women after menopause? Well, kelp can help as it is a rich source of vitamin K, which plays a role in creating denser bones less vulnerable to arthritis and osteoporosis. Even fucoidan contributes to healthy bones. Low molecular weight fucoidan helps prevent age-related bone loss and improves the mineral density in bones.

How to Eat Kelp

I have recommended many times on medium.com, YouTube, and social media that you eat your nutrients from a whole plant-based diet rather than take supplements. Kelp can be a part of a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and roods. Kelp can be one small part of a broader healthy diet that includes a variety of raw, unprocessed, nutrient-dense foods (at least 50% of your diet from these sources for optimal health).

One of the easiest ways to incorporate kelp into your diet is by adding an organic, dried variety into soups. You could also use raw kelp noodles in salads and main dishes or add some dried kelp flakes as a seasoning. You can usually find these products in Japanese or Korean restaurants or grocery stores. Enjoy kelp cold with oil and sesame seeds, hot in a soup or stew, or even blended into a vegetable juice.

You can also find this sea vegetable in supplement form, but be very cautious. Supplements should be bought only from very trusted, established sources in order to get reliably nutritive value from those supplements. Remember: It is always better to eat your nutrients!

Kelp Recipes

One healthy recipe I found recently is this one for Creamy Carrot Soup, but make it with unsweetened almond milk, preferably make at home with soaked, blanched almonds. This soups phenomenal as it has carotenoid-rich carrots, and heart-healthy, cancer-protecting leeks.

Another interesting recipe with kelp is a delicious stir-fry of Kelp with Rice that’s also good for your digestive system.

If you want to try something in the mornings to get your daily dose of kelp, try a Kelp and Kale Smoothie, but remember not to overdo it as you may increase your iodine levels to unhealthy levels (probably once or twice a week would be best). This recipe also includes bananas and cranberries in addition to superfood kale for a nutrition-packed breakfast treat.

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