Sea kelp, a vegetable that grows in forests in the ocean, is commonly used in Asian cuisine. You might be most familiar with it in its dried form: sheets of dried seaweed used for rolling sushi. You might have a tough time finding sea kelp for sale -- it is not commonly sold in grocery stores except as a supply for making sushi, although some specialty shops may sell it in different forms. Sea kelp is nutritious with few calories and very little fat.
A 2-tbsp. serving of sea kelp contains 4 calories. Unless you follow a very calorie-restricted diet, this amount of calories uses up little of your daily allotment. A serving also contains 0.1 g of fat, only a trace amount. In addition, a serving of sea kelp provides 1 g of carbohydrates, less than 1 percent of the carbs you need to eat each day for energy. One serving of sea kelp also provides 0.2 g of protein; the Institute of Medicine recommends consuming 46 to 56 g of protein each day. Supplement your diet with health amounts of protein and carbohydrates when including sea kelp in your meal plan to meet your nutritional goals.
Vitamins and Minerals
While a 2-tbsp. portion of sea kelp cannot be considered nutritionally-dense, it does provide a range of vitamins and minerals. One serving of sea kelp has 3 percent of the daily recommended intake of magnesium, important for the density of your bones. You will also take in 2 percent of the iron and calcium you require each day, as well as smaller amounts of riboflavin, zinc, vitamin C, copper and pantothenic acid. This makes sea kelp helpful for influencing nerve health, promoting the function of your nervous system and metabolizing energy from the foods in your diet.
Sea kelp is high in antioxidants. Including sea kelp in your meal plan can ward off damage to your cells, organs and tissues, which, in addition to keeping your skin looking young, can prevent a host of diseases and medical conditions, including arthritis, hair loss and cancer. Consult your physician or nutritionist about the benefits of sea kelp before using it for medicinal purposes.
As sea kelp is quite high in iodine, it may interfere with some medications. Consult a physician about eating sea kelp if you take medication for an overactive thyroid or blood clotting problems. The iodine in sea kelp can depress thyroid function when taking medication for thyroid problems, and when taking anticoagulants, sea kelp can slow clotting and increase your risk of bruising. In addition, too much iodine in your diet over a long period of time may increase your risk of developing goiter or thyroid cancer. MedlinePlus recommends avoiding the consumption of seaweed if you are pregnant or breast-feeding as well.