Kelp has been a nutritious Japanese, Korean diet staple for centuries

NUTRIENTS: Kelp is a low-maintenance high achiever. Picture: Shutterstock
NUTRIENTS: Kelp is a low-maintenance high achiever. Picture: Shutterstock

It's time to reconsider everything you ever knew about kelp.

That won't take long. Kelp remains on my to-do list of foodstuffs beginning with K that sound ominously hardcore, along with kombucha, kefir and kale.

Kale? Forget that. It's as yesterday as planking and ripped jeans.

Thanks, that makes my K list more achievable. So why should kelp be at the top?

It's been a nutritious Japanese and Korean diet staple for centuries. But now the rest of the world is waking up to the superpowers of the sea vegetable.

Tell me about those.

Oh, so many. Kelp soaks up all the good nutrients from the ocean, so it packs goodies like vitamins A and K, iron, magnesium, folate and calcium. Want antioxidants? Kelp's your guy.

And it's an abundant natural source of iodine, which in the right amounts can support thyroid function (although in the wrong amounts it can have entirely the opposite effect, so be sure to speak to your health provider before adding regular kelp to your diet).

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Aren't these green superfoods super-complicated? Kale lost me when I heard it required a massage before use, like some sort of leafy Cristiano Ronaldo. What does kelp demand - a spa bath and a cashmere blanket?

Kelp's a low-maintenance high achiever. You can buy granules to sprinkle on your meals as seasoning, add kelp powder to your smoothie or a baking mix, and kelp noodles don't even need to be cooked. Or you can buy kelp beauty products just like Victoria Beckham does, for some oceanic skin hydration.

We're standing beside the ocean. Is there kelp in there right now?

You'll often see our local Golden Kelp (Ecklonia Radiata, for the seaweed geeks) washed up on the beach; it's the brownish one with the flat fronds.

Foragers such as Sydney wild foods expert Diego Bonetto can explain how to harvest a little for your own personal use after a high tide, when it's fresh.

To be honest, I'm more likely to harvest my kelp from a shop.

Good news there, too. Kelp products are made by a growing number of ethical Aussie producers. Chefs love them.

And there's even some promising tinkering with kelp beer. Watch that space.

Turning oceans into beer? Now you've got my attention.

  • Amy Cooper is a journalist who embraces wellness, but has also used kale to garnish a cocktail.
This story Sea vegetable's superpowers unearthed first appeared on The Canberra Times.