Laminaria digitata

When you think of seaweeds, Atlantic Kombu (also called kelp or oarweed or simply kelp) is probably one of the first species that spring to mind. Either washed up on the beach in huge amounts after a storm, or in its natural habitat when snorkeling or diving.

This large dark-brown species can form enormous kelp forests, analogous to the rainforests found in the tropics. These kelp forests harbour a rich biodiversity that serve as important fish nurseries and provide an abundance of food for a wealth of creatures such as crabs and lobsters.

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Nutritional benefits

Kombu forms a white crystalline substance on its surface during the drying process. This is the sugar mannitol, which gives it its specific taste. (care needs to be taken not to eat too much of it, especially when you have an overactive thyroid function). It is very low in fat (1%) and is an excellent source of the vitamin-B complex. It is also particularly rich in iodine, calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Typical Nutritional value per 100g dry weight

Kombu Content % RDA
Energy 589 kJ  –
Energy 140 kCal  –
Moisture 9.9 g  –
Protein 8.7 g  –
Carbohydrates 24 g  –
of which sugars 0 g  –
Dietary Fiber 33.2 g  –
Fat, total 1.1 g  –
Saturated fat 0.3 g  –
Mono unsaturated fat 0.19 g  –
poly unsaturated fat 0.21 g  –
Sodium 2300 mg  –
Magnesium 700 mg 187%
Phosphorus 120 mg 17%
Potassium 4600 mg  –
Calcium 800 mg 100%
Manganese 0.4 mg 20%
iron 5.9 mg 42%
Copper 0.4 mg 40%
Zinc 3.9 mg 39%
Iodine 433 mcg 289%
Vitamin A – retinol 20 mcg 3%
Vitamin D – calciferol 2 mcg 40%
Vitamin E – tocopherols 0.5 mg 4%
Vitamin B3 – niacin 2.9 mg 18%
Vitamin B7 – biotin (H) 32 mcg 64%

Health benefits

Many human health benefits have been contributed to various compounds in Kombu (for instance Fucoidan, Mannitol, Laminaran) and new benefits are continuously being discovered. Here is a summary*:

  • Antiviral properties
  • Anti-HIV properties
  • Anti-oxidative properties
  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Antibacterial properties against E. coli and Staphylococcus
  • Reduction of cholesterol
  • Anti-oxidative properties
  • Stimulation of immuno system
  • Prevents Alzheimer
  • Anti-inflammatory agent
  • Decrease of systolic blood pressure
  • Protection against irradiation
  • Help in wound repairs
* This list is adapted from: Holdt & Kraan 2011 – Bioactive compounds in seaweed: functional food applications and legislation. Journal of Applied Phycology

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