Facts about Kelp Benefits
Numerous sea creatures such as whales, abalone, sea urchins and snails all eat vitamin rich kelp; benefits that this sea vegetable provides to them is also extended to humans. Though humans do not eat kelp in its natural form, it is included in a number of commercially prepared foods that we eat on a daily basis and can be consumed in capsule form.
What it is
Kelp is, quite simply, seaweed. Also known as marine algae, it is a plant that grows in the ocean. The term “grows” is used loosely in the fact that it does not develop at all like any plant that grows on land. While it is true that kelp does grow in forests, the plant is virtually rootless. It does possess tentacles at the base of the plant called “holdfast” that enables the plant to do just that on the bottom of the ocean floor. No life enriching nutrients are garnered through these tentacles, however, which is the basic purpose of traditional plant roots. The structure of kelp begins at the holdfast, from which the stem, called a “stipe”, extends. Thin, long streamers resembling plant leaves grow out from along the stipe, which is tough yet extremely flexible to allow the plant to move easily along with the current of the ocean. The fronds reach upwards toward the surface of the water; held upright through the growth of small bladders found at the midsection of each streamer. These balloon-like devices are filled with a gas that serves to stabilize the frond in an upright fashion.
The brownish colored kelp is just one of several types of seaweed. It grows extremely fast, with some varieties reaching well over one hundred feet in length. The growth rate of this sea vegetable can range between three inches per day to a mind boggling two feet per day, depending on the species and its habitat. It is found growing naturally in coastal areas all across the world, where it serves as a nutritional source of food for a variety of marine creatures. It has also been discovered that kelp benefits humans, as well, in a number of different ways.
Properties of kelp
Kelp contains a wide variety of healthy components, many of which the human body would fail without.
- One of the first and foremost of these healthy components is iodine. It is easily the world’s leading forerunner as a source of iodine, which is crucial to the development of thyroid hormones in humans and life itself. Thyroid hormones have the responsibility of regulating metabolism and have a hand in most physiological functions of the body.
- Folic acid is a vital component is preventing both birth defects and cardiovascular disease, along with magnesium. Sea vegetables such as kelp possess great value for providing these important nutrients.
- Vitamin K is essential for the formation of bones and clotting of the blood and one of the many kelp benefits is in its high concentration of this valuable nutrient. Since the human body does not produce adequate quantities of Vitamin K, supplemental sources such as kelp can fill the need.
How to use kelp
Anyone who has eaten ice cream, salad dressings or sushi has eaten kelp, likely without knowing it. The vegetable can also be taken in powdered capsule form as a daily supplement, and can also be a salt replacement by using kelp flakes.
Though many people have a negative connotation to the word “seaweed”, this humble source of valuable minerals can vastly improve our health. The vitamin and nutrient rich kelp benefits not only the marine creatures that naturally feed from the ocean plant but offers many health advantages to humans.