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First it was wheatgrass, then Kale and now it's KELP: Why seaweed is now at the top of the superfood table

  • Iodine and calcium-rich, kelp also has natural antioxidant properties
  • Seaweed contains 46 minerals, 16 amino acids and 11 micro-nutrients
  • The natural diuretic also helps with weight control and cleanses system

By Anucyia Victor for MailOnline
Published: 02:29 EST, 25 March 2015 | Updated: 05:42 EST, 25 March 2015

It's the new superfood that's been steadily gaining popularity, especially with nutritionists and those in the know.  Better known as algae or seaweed, kelp is now being touted as the latest nutritional powerhouse and is set to take over from kale as the trendy new ingredient to add to your diet. The vitamin-packed seaweed is not only a concentrated sourced of calcium and iodine, it has also been found to have natural antioxidant properties. Geeta Sidhu Robb, nutrionist and founder of Nosh Detox has been using kelp for some time now as it has some superior properties compared to kale. In fact Ms Sidhu-Robb said that it's kelp's high iodine content which makes it one of the best foods around.  According to Ms Sidhu-Robb, nearly 70% of UK women are said to be be iodine deficient. She told Femail: 'Kelp has iodine, because only ocean products contain iodine. 'Iodine nourishes the thyroid gland, the powerhouse of the metabolism. It's the one thing that most people have out of balance when fatigued. 'Kelp and kale are different as they do different things,' she continued. 'But it does have iodine which kale doesn't and magnesium and calcium which kale does. 'So if you take kelp it does have everything in it.''Kelp has been around for a while and is often take by people 'in the know'. It is certainly getting more popular with the general public,' head nutritionist at NutriCentre, Shona Wilkinson said. Because kelp grows in a nutrient-rich water, it is packed full of nutrients,' she continued. The seaweed is a natural source of vitamins and mineral and is particularly high in calcium. Ms. Wilkinson explained: 'It is a natural source of vitamins A, B1, B2, C, D and E as well as minerals including zinc, iodine, magnesium, iron, potassium, copper and is especially high in calcium. 'It is also very high in iodine. We need iodine for efficient thyroid and pituitary function. The thyroid is responsible for regulating metabolism and body temperature. 'For this reason many people take kelp to help with weight control. Kelp is also known as a natural diuretic and is thought to be good for those troubled with water retention.'

Natalie Alexander Bio-Synergy ambassador said: 'Kelp is known for its detoxifying properties, whilst also containing a rich source of concentrated minerals and trace elements, which help with the efficient running of our body.'  And not only is this super plant good for you, it's great for the environment as well as it has the ability to grow without fresh water or land. And when it does grow in water, it cleans the water by soaking up excess phosphorus and nitrogen. Ms Sidhu-Robb explained: 'It's also the fastest growing plant in the world so much more sustainable. But while it's been hailed as the next big thing, Ms Wilkinson is wary of describing it as a 'superfood'. She said: 'The term 'superfood' isn't really an official term so its difficult to say whether it counts as a superfood or not but it is certainly as good way of getting all your nutrients in one place. However, Rhiannon Lambert  resident nutritionist for Wheyhey feels it can be termed a superfood. 'Yes, it could be classed as a superfood,' she said. 'Kelp contains a huge array of vitamins and minerals - 46 minerals, 16 amino acids (protein building blocks) and 11 micro-nutrients – and there is a lot of research into its numerous health benefits. 'Many nutritionists prescribe kelp supplements to aid thyroid function, hydration and weight management due to its high iodine content. 'Kelp is also extremely high in antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties which can help fight free radical damage and even cancers. 'There are in fact now studies looking into ovarian cancer and reduced rates of the cancer in Japanese women who have high intakes of kelp in their diet,' she continued. And Lovisa Nilsson nutritionist at health and fitness app, Lifesum agreed. She said:' Kelp is definitely a superfood as it as been proven to boost immune system and has natural antibiotic synthesised into it that can help assist the body in fighting infection.  'The diuretic nature of kelp is good for cleansing the system and shedding excess water weight. 'Kelp is great for women, as it has higher calcium content than milk (10 times) and is rich in iron, folic acid and potassium.  These properties are important for woman when replacing lost nutrients during menstruation and pregnancy.' she continued. And because the seaweed has high levels of protein, it's also great for vegetarians. So does this mean it's time to wave goodbye to kale?  For those of us who have had enough of the curly vegetable in all its forms, it's not good news.  'Although it's a great superfood, it probably won't take over from kale purely because of availability,' Ms Lambert said. 'Kale is everywhere, but kelp has not made the leap to mainstream superfood yet so isn't as readily available in your local supermarket. Ms Alexander agreed.  She said: 'In my opinion I think kale and kelp both offer something different - kale is grown in soil, whilst kelp comes from the ocean. 'They are both rich in phytonutrients which help to keep our body’s healthy and fight off diseases.  'I think both are nutritional powerhouses; however kelp offers more benefits when it comes to assisting our thyroid hormone production, which is responsible for regulating our metabolism,' she said.  

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