One of the many sea vegetables gaining popularity in western society is Kombu. Sea veggies like nori, dulse, and spirulina have also made it onto grocery store shelves and left the health food aisles and Japanese eateries. Natural taste enhancer kombu has great health advantages. It gives meals a savory umami flavor. Iodine, a nutritional component necessary for thyroid function, iron, calcium, and trace minerals are all present in Kombu. A and C vitamins are also present in Kombu.
Technically speaking, the enzyme glutamic acid in Kombu has a miraculous feature that works as a natural bean tenderizer. This magical quality aids in the gas-producing complex sugar breakdown in beans. Dried Kombu can be found in the Asian section of grocery stores, natural markets, and Whole Foods. When sealed tightly and stored in a dry cold place, the Kombu will keep for years in the pantry.
Kombu Nutrition Facts
What is Kombu?
Although it is most frequently linked with the Laminaria japonica species, the Japanese word “kombu” is used to designate nearly any edible kelp from the Laminaria family. This type of kelp grows abundantly in the waters off the coast of East Asia, including Japan, the Korean peninsula, and sections of China.
The popularity of this kelp species has led to many commercial productions in these nations. Most Kombu sold in supermarkets is produced on kelp farms and offered fresh, frozen, dried, or pickled. Although it is used to flavor various foods, the Japanese dashi broth is probably where it is most frequently found.
Flavor and Popularity
Asian societies have long harvested and used Kombu. Kelp’s salty, savory flavor is frequently used as an example of umami, the “fifth sense” that traditional Japanese cooks refer to. A common definition of umami is “pleasant savoriness,” which differs from the four traditional tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter.
Kelp is frequently consumed raw, shredded into seaweed salads, or served as a side dish with pork and rice. However, drying often concentrates the kelp’s rich, salty flavor, making dried kelp strips a common ingredient in East Asian restaurants. For a quick and simple flavor boost, cooks frequently add a few flakes to boiling rice or cooking meat dishes. A bay leaf might be removed in more European-style cooking, but other recipes ask for the seaweed to stay in the dish after cooking is finished.
Varieties of Kombu
These are the four primary widely used forms
- Dried Kombu
- Pickled Kombu (Contains Vinegar)
- Dried Shred Kombu
- Fresh/ Raw Kombu
What are the Health Benefits of Kombu?
Here are the health benefits of Kombu:
Rich in Vitamin K
The blood clotting process is aided by vitamin K. Vitamin K is in sufficient quantities in Kombu, contributing to the recommended daily consumption. Additionally, vitamin K can influence the body’s calcium levels and strengthen your bones. As a result, it may eventually lead to better blood quality.
High Fibre Content
The fiber in Kombu helps with digestion and keeps bowel movements regular. So, when drinking Kombu, you should not be concerned about having erratic bowel movements. Additionally, this fiber concentration can help to avoid diabetes and strengthen the heart.
Contains Amino Acids
Alpha-amino acid glutamic acid can be found in Kombu. This amino acid functions in the ribosomes as a pioneer or precursor of protein synthesis. As a result, the body places considerable importance on it. Additionally, it is this amino acid that gives Kombu its umami flavor. Additionally, glutamic acid aids in the breakdown of beans’ carbs. Additionally, this aids in avoiding gas buildup.
Iodine in Kombu can Prevent Anaemia
Extremely high iodine concentrations in kombu help produce thyroid hormones. These thyroid hormones aid the body’s entire development, particularly during pregnancy and lactation. Additionally, they support the body’s neurological system in its growth. Iodine may also lengthen life, especially in men, and prevent several cancers. Additionally, research demonstrates that Kombu can treat hypothyroidism. Iodine deficiency can result in hypothyroidism, while iodine excess can result in hyperthyroidism.
Rich in Magnesium
Magnesium is found in trace amounts in Kombu, which you can add to your daily intake. Fatigue can be treated with this magnesium. Magnesium also makes the body’s cell cycle regular. Magnesium also helps the body’s bones and teeth to be strong. According to a study, osteoporosis is exacerbated by magnesium deficiency.
Rich in Potassium
Additionally, Kombu has a large deal of potassium in it. This potassium enhances blood quality and aids in blood pressure maintenance. Potassium also aids in the development of muscles. Additionally, it controls the body’s neurological system.
We may infer that a serving of Kombu doesn’t include fats by looking at the USDA study. One might utilize it in the keto diet or other regimens to aid in weight loss. However, it would help if you exercise caution while selecting the recipe because the number of fats in the recipe may vary.
Since Kombu is a popular meal in Japan, most Japanese people can attest to these advantages. Additionally, most studies demonstrate that regular consumption of Kombu (seaweed), which contains high amounts of iodine, is why certain segments of the Japanese population experience well-developed bones, an extended lifespan, and other distinctive features compared to people in other nations.
Allergic Reactions to Kombu
Although Kombu has many advantages, some people may develop allergies to it. Here are a handful of these allergies:
High Iodine Content
According to a study, the high iodine level of Kombu has been linked to severe rashes in certain people. It is not advisable to ingest large amounts of iodine because it can mix with several drugs and cause your body to have too much iodine. Iodine overdose can cause fever, nausea, diarrhea, low blood pressure, and a rapid heartbeat. Therefore, before starting a full-fledged kombu-based diet, talk to your doctor. Everybody responds differently to Kombu. With different people, it varies. So, the only person who can advise you on whether or not to ingest it is a doctor.
This allergy affects all seaweeds and is not specific to Kombu. Since seaweed doesn’t include fish protein, it’s unlikely that someone allergic to seafood would also be allergic to seaweed. Even so, it is best to seek medical advice before consuming seaweed, as doing so suddenly could result in an allergic reaction.
Adverse Effects of Kombu
Due to its high iodine concentration, Kombu has distinct negative impacts on human bodies. Some of these are listed below. But iodine toxicity is to blame for the majority of these side effects.
- Iodine overdose can have several serious impacts on our bodies. One of the main effects is abdominal pain brought on by the iodine’s involvement with the kidney system.
- Additionally, the micturition and filtration processes do not completed successfully, which may cause the patient to have stomach pain. Consequently, you might even become dehydrated.
- Iodine overdose can leave your lips tasting metallic. Additionally, this could cause constant nausea. Additionally, you might vomit as well.
- Iodine in excess may not be properly absorbed by the body, leading to digestive problems like diarrhea and feverish feelings. If this fever is not treated as soon as possible, it could cause wheezing and breathing problems.
- The thyroid gland can be negatively impacted by too much iodine, which can also cause autoimmune iodine disorders and goiter.
How can we Use Kombu?
There are several ways to use Kombu, especially in various dishes. A few of them are listed below:
- Dashi: It is the dish with the highest proportion of Kombu and is the most widely consumed. Additionally, it gives most of the soups an umami flavor.
- Bean Dishes: Kombu should be used in bean meals because beans typically create gas. Because it contains glutamic acid, Kombu prevents gas production. Thus, you can add it to any recipe that contains beans.
- Kombu Tea: Japan and the United States enjoy this tea’s popularity. This tasty tea is made by combining Kombu with hot water. The Kombu melts and imparts a distinct flavor, making it a cool beverage.
- In Sushi: Rice tastes good with Kombu as a condiment. Sushi is made with this rice.
- Using Kombu as a Condiment: The Kombu should be washed under running water, dried with a towel, and set on a cutting table. The Kombu should be finely chopped and placed in a dry skillet over medium heat. The kombu pieces should be stirred with a spoon until they are crunchy. Transfer the crunchy kombu pieces to a mortar, then use a pestle to ground them into a fine powder. As a condiment, sprinkle the powder over foods like rice or vegetables.
How does Kombu Compare to Other Types of Seaweed?
Wakame seaweed is sweeter than Kombu, while nori is typically thought to have a much stronger flavor.
Kombu has the most iodine content in nutrition, whereas nori and wakame have less. The nutritional value, notably the amount of iodine, might vary by species, harvest area, and preparation even within these three well-known kinds.
Even in the United States, where the west coast produces numerous varieties of seaweed with a flavor profile resembling that of Kombu, fresh seaweed harvesting has become increasingly popular. Seaweed you gather on the beach might be safe to eat, but it is not always advised because it is impossible to determine whether it has been exposed to pollutants or other contaminants.
Is a Seaweed Supplement Just as Healthy as Eating Seaweed?
Some supplements are available for people who dislike Kombu’s flavor, texture, or other seaweed forms. However, there isn’t enough proof to demonstrate any advantages. And there might be a reason to worry. Researchers have discovered that there isn’t much legislation requiring food or supplement manufacturers to disclose the number of minerals, heavy metals, or iodine in their products made from seaweed or to offer recommendations for safe serving sizes of specific whole seaweeds to prevent overconsumption. 9
It is advisable to consume Kombu in its full, natural form if you are interested in reaping its possible health advantages. This enables you to eat the fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals it offers.
It is clear from the arguments above that Kombu is a complete combination of nutrients. Although there is little evidence to back it up, it has long been practiced in Japan. According to studies, Japanese populations have a high rate of cancer prevention and a long average life expectancy because they consume a variety of seaweeds. Even yet, it is best to seek medical advice before consuming Kombu because it contains high levels of iodine, which some of us may find dangerous.