A common seaweed in Japan, Korea and certain parts of China, Kombu is fast gaining popularity for its nutritional value. Although it is best known as the key ingredient in dashi, this edible kelp is a rich source of minerals essential for good health.
What are the Health Benefits of Kombu?
Kombu kelp is a reliable provider of minerals, vitamins and other important nutrients. It contains significant amounts of calcium, iron, iodine and soluble fiber.
Bone and Dental Protection
One of the biggest health benefits of Kombu is its’ high levels of calcium. An ounce of kelp meets 12% of the required daily amount. Adding it to your diet can strengthen bones and strengthen teeth to maintain good dental health. Kombu is also a great alternative source of calcium for vegans and lactose intolerant individuals.
Rich Source of Iron
With iron deficiencies on the rise, there are more cases of people suffering from anemia than ever before. If this is a problem, incorporating Kombu into your daily menu can help. Increasing iron intake can eliminate symptoms of deficiency, which include fatigue, shortness of breath and dry nails.
Kombu is loaded with soluble fiber. This dietary fiber absorbs water in the digestive tract to relieve constipation and regulate bowel movements. It also gives a satiating feeling, which makes it a great food for weight loss.
Because Kombu has plenty of iodine, it is able to boost thyroid function and improve metabolism. Iodine also builds the body’s natural resistance to cancer and a range of other illnesses.
In addition to the mentioned nutrients, Kombu contains varying quantities of vitamins B, C, D and E. It has also been found to contain traces of germanium, magnesium and zinc. All these nutrients enhance organ function, immunity, muscle agility and general wellness.
What are the Side Effects of Kombu?
Despite its list of health advantages, Kombu can have adverse side effects when it is not consumed properly. The most common is hyperthyroidism – a condition in which the thyroid becomes overactive as a result of consuming too much iodine.
Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight changes, abnormal heart rate and loose stools. You may also experience fatigue and excessive sweating. It is therefore advised to seek medical attention if you have any or all of these symptoms.
Pregnant women should avoid consuming Kombu altogether. Although it was once used to induce labor, its safety is now questionable. This seaweed is associated with cervical rupture and infections. Please do not use unless instructed otherwise by a medical professional.
If you are currently taking potassium supplements, digoxin, thyroid medication or ACE inhibitors, refrain from eating Kombu until you have finished your regimen. Combining kelp with prescription drugs and supplements can have serious consequences on your health.
Patients with existing kidney and thyroid disorders, and goiter should not use Kombu as treatment unless it is administered by a qualified physician. If used incorrectly, it can make health conditions worse.
How Can Kombu Be Ingested?
A popular flavoring agent, Kombu is often added to dashi, salads and a variety of meat dishes. To get the most out this nutritious food, it is important to learn how to choose, prepare and cook it.
How to Choose Kombu
The quality of seaweed you choose will determine the health benefits of Kombu you receive. Raw or fresh Kombu is preferred as it contains the highest amounts of nutrients. However, frozen, dried and pickled varieties have a longer shelf life.
The best Kombu is very dark in color. They are often sold in sheets or strips you can easily add to miso soup, legumes and salads. It is also a common ingredient in Japanese cuisine.
How to Prepare Kombu
Before cooking, rinse Kombu under running water for 30 seconds to a minute. Let it sit in warm water for 10-15 minutes or until soft. Once softened, you can chop and cook with meals. If you are making dashi, start by wiping its surface with a damp cloth and soak in water for at least 10 hours before adding it to soup.
How to Cook Kombu
Fresh Kombu can be steamed, grilled, baked and pan-fried. While some prefer to eat it raw, heat softens it for easier consumption. Dried varieties can be used as a replacement for salt and seasoning. They are also ideal for making dashi soup.
Pickled seaweed make excellent teas. You can also use it as a sauce for meats and seafood, and as snacks between meals.
Many people find the convenience of getting sea vegetables, land vegetables, algae and grasses all in one green drink formula to be far more efficient than trying to purchase them individually and incorporate them in a regular diet.