Kelp, a type of seaweed, is harvested from the large, treelike plants found growing in the ocean. You can eat the bladelike leaves of the kelp fresh, although they are commonly dried and used to make stock or ground into a powder to be added other dishes. Kelp is naturally low in calories, which can help with weight loss.
Low in Calories
A 1-ounce serving of kelp, roughly 28 grams, contains only 22.8 calories per serving and less than 1/4r gram of fat. You can use kelp in place of other higher-calorie and -fat foods in salads and soups, where the natural richness of kelp provides a flavor boost with few calories. Roasted almonds have 85 calories per 1-ounce serving and almost 7.5 grams of fat, so using kelp in a salad will lead to a 186.6-calorie deficit if you replace the almonds with kelp three times a week. Over time, this can add up, helping you meet your weight-loss goals by reducing your long-term calorie intake.
Alginate Reduces Fat Intake
Alginate, a type of fiber found in kelp that produces a gel-like substance, can help suppress the digestion of fat. A study published in a 2014 issue of "Food Chemistry" found that alginate helped reduce the amount of fat absorbed by the body. During preliminary trials, the researchers used alginate as a supplement in bread and found that it led to reduced fat intake, even when the alginate was consumed only in small portions. While the study was promising, researchers still need to conduct clinical trials, especially when including alginate as part of a normal diet.
Fucoxanthin for Lower Weight Gain
Fucoxanthin is a compound found naturally in seaweed, and in 2010, “Biotechnology Journal” published a study that found that fucoxanthin supplements helped reduce fat tissue and overall cholesterol and triglyceride levels. The animal study also found that those receiving the supplement had less weight gain. The test subjects were fed a high-fat diet, and the study used varying quantities of fucoxanthin over a period of six weeks. While the study showed promise, fucoxanthin may not have the same effect on humans, especially those who have a healthier diet rather than an unhealthy, high-fat one.
Cooking With Kelp
Kelp can be used to make stocks -- replacing beef, chicken or even vegetable stocks. It can also be added as thin strips to soups and stews to boost flavor. You can either add shredded kelp to salads in place of higher-calorie foods or make a kelp-only salads, dressed minimally with some vinegar and a splash of sesame seed oil. You can also use dried kelp to make your own kelp noodles, springy and low in calories, or sprinkle it onto foods to increase nutrition and for a quick flavor boost.
- University of Southern California: Help With Kelp
- The Kitchn: Kelp Powder -- A Vegan Umami Seasoning
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Seaweed, Kelp, Raw
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Almonds, Dry Roasted
- Go Ask Alice!: How Many Calories Does It Take to Lose One Pound?
- Food Chemistry: The Modulation of Pancreatic Lipase Activity by Alginates
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: Seaweed Used as a Source of Alginate
- Biotechnology Journal: Fucoxanthin-Rich Seaweed Extract Suppresses Body Weight Gain and Improves Lipid Metabolism in High-Fat-Fed C57BL/6J Mice
- Maine Coast Sea Vegetables: Kelp Recipes
- BBC News: Seaweed Could Be Key to Weight Loss, Study Suggests