Sea kelp is a type of seaweed, also sometimes called a sea vegetable, that is widely eaten in Asian and health food diets. Sea kelp can be used fresh or dried and is often known by its Japanese name, kombu. A type of brown seaweed, kelp can be safely eaten and is known for containing weight loss aiding compounds.
Kelp contains a compound known as fucoxanthin, which may help with weight loss as well as body fat. A 2010 publication of “Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism” included the findings of a study on obese women and fucoxanthin, derived from brown seaweed. The compound was taken along with pomegranate seed oil. Scientists conducting the study found that women taking the supplement of kelp and oil showed overall decreases in liver and body fat content, as well as lower triglyceride levels and a smaller waist circumference. Researchers concluded that kelp showed great promise as a weight-loss aid. However, further study was needed, particularly to determine how much of the benefit is due to fucoxanthin from kelp versus pomegranate seed oil.
Fat Burning and Weight Gain Reduction - A study published in a 2010 issue of "Biotechnology Journal" found that an extract of fucoxanthin from kelp led to lower weight gain in test subjects. The animal study included a high-fat diet, and those receiving the supplement showed less body fat tissue and body fat mass, as well as less weight gain, than those who did not receive the supplement while on the high-fat diet. Triglyceride and cholesterol levels were also significantly lowered for those taking the supplement. Researchers concluded that fucoxanthin could help improve fat metabolism and reduce the risk of weight gain, although long-term human study is required.
Low In Calories - Kelp is a low-calorie food, with only 4 calories per 2 tablespoon serving. Its rich flavor allows its use as a replacement for more high-calorie foods, such as nuts used in a salad. A 2 tablespoon serving of sliced almonds has 67 calories per serving. Replacing the almonds with 2 tablespoons of kelp can lead to a 63-calorie reduction. If you made this substitution twice a week over the course of a year, you'd lose almost 2 pounds of weight.
Precautions - Sea kelp can be used only for 2 weeks at a time. Always take a break and start again. This avoids an overdose of iodine which can cause serious imbalances in functioning of the thyroid. Since most of seas and oceans are polluted, it is important to know where sea kelp is coming from. Oceans surrounding Iceland, Hawaii, North West United States and Canada are relatively pristine and pollution free, hence choose kelp which is harvested in these seas.
Those with thyroid disorders must be careful, for excess kelp can worsen their conditions. In fact prolonged usage without a break can lead to greater risk of thyroid cancer and goiter. Kelp harvested from heavily toxic areas will contain arsenic and other poisons. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding, those who suffer from iodine allergies or women who are infertile must avoid kelp. Do not take kelp 2 weeks before any surgery for it could slow blood clotting and cause excessive bleeding after surgery. Check with your doctor if any medication you are taking could interact adversely with kelp. Follow all relevant dosages mentioned on the label to make sure you take the appropriate dosage for your age and health condition. Check with your doctor before starting any weight loss program.