Adding kelp to your diet has many benefits

Published 12:03 pm Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Today, I’d like to talk about food products that are derived from life in the sea. 

Of the 2.2 million different species believed to exist in the Earth’s oceans, only 240,000 have been identified, and the total number of worldwide fish species is estimated to be around 32,000. That is greater than the total of all amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals combined.

Let’s begin with a food product that may seem like a plant, but it isn’t. Both kelp and seaweed are marine algae species that mimic plants. Algae are not true plants, but are free-moving organisms, while plants are tethered to the soil by roots. Kelp is actually a sub-species of seaweed. In other words, all kelp is seaweed, but not all seaweed is kelp.             

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The health benefits derived from kelp are numerous. First, it’s a great source of iodine, an essential element needed for life. It’s essential in that our bodies don’t manufacture it, so it must be obtained from the diet. Iodine is a necessary component of thyroxine, the main hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Thyroxine serves several functions, playing a crucial role in heart and digestive function, metabolism, brain development, bone health and muscle control.

Kelp also helps regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. One study found that kelp consumption significantly improved blood glucose levels, especially for individuals with type 2 diabetes. It contains the mineral vanadium, which helps regulate blood sugar. Also, while kelp lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol, it also reduces triglycerides and raises HDL (good) cholesterol blood levels. 

Kelp contains the carotenoid fucoxanthin, which has been shown to be effective against several types of prostate cancer. It also provides a rich source of fucoidan, a polysaccharide shown to be effective against leukemia and lung cancer, as well as colon and breast cancer.

Kelp offers health benefits to athletes of all skill levels. The assortment of electrolytes in kelp provides energy during exercise, keeps muscles functioning properly and assists muscle recovery after training or working out. It also provides a plant-based source of calcium, which is particularly beneficial for individuals who do not consume dairy regularly. Vitamin K in kelp also contributes to bone health and density by assisting in the production of certain proteins involved in bone mineralization. 

This food product is also known to possess anti-aging properties. The abundant nutrients and compounds in kelp provide antioxidant effects that work to neutralize free radicals, which can damage cells, thereby causing premature aging. Also, kelp holds anti-inflammatory qualities. Chronic inflammation is associated with various age-related conditions.          

Kelp can be a healthful addition to a comprehensive nutritious diet. Organic, dried kelp can be incorporated into soups, stews, pasta and salads. It is also available in powder, dried, fresh, and supplement forms.                

David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Questions? Email David at or text to 864-494-6215.