Think of kelp as the dark, leafy greens of the sea!
If you’ve found yourself on a beach, ever, in your life, you’re probably familiar with seaweed in all it’s slimy goodness. As kids, my brother and I used to hurl giant handfuls of the stuff at each other, gleefully running in the opposite direction of whatever briney tangle was headed our way. In calmer moments, I loved searching beneath the bigger clumps that had washed ashore for crabs and other sea-bound treasures – still do, in fact. What’s better than combing a beach after a storm to see what oddities needs saving? But that seaweed could be just as beneficial to us as it is the crabs and shells that hide in it – and it’s been getting plenty of attention lately. One brown algae seaweed in particular has proven especially amazing for the entire body – kelp.
What is kelp?
Kelp has been around for awhile – in fact, it’s believed to have first appeared on Earth between 5 and 23 million years ago. That’s a lot of time to perfect yourself. Kelp refers to the wide, flat seaweed found washed up on many beaches. While it’s common to discover the algae in this state, in fact kelp grows in underwater forests that are believed to be some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth. Kelp forests can be huge (there’s one off the coast of Norway that’s nearly 6000 square kilometers), and supports a staggering amount of lifeforms, from sea sponges to fish. Giant kelp itself is believed to be one of the largest plants in the world.
Benefits of kelp:
Kelp and other seaweeds have experienced a rise in popularity as their many benefits come to light. Vegans and those who avoid dairy can appreciate it for it’s super high levels of calcium – kelp contains 10 times more calcium than milk, the highest of any food. Kelp is also a natural source of iodine and could support thyroid function. Along with iodine and calcium, kelp contains a variety of vitamins – including A, C, K, and B6 – antioxidants, and minerals. Think of kelp as the dark, leafy greens of the sea!
How to use kelp:
Kelp has been used in Asian cuisine for centuries and, in comparison, is just catching on in the States. One popular variety is kombu, which is often used to counteract the gas-causing anti-nutrients of beans and legumes. Kelp can also be used to top salads (dried varieties are easily found in stores) and as a supplemental powder. Kelp is commonly used in beauty products, too – check out a few of our favorite kelp-containing products here!
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