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What is Kelp and Why Should You Eat It?

sugar kelp in the ocean 

Kelp is one of the least-understood seafood products, and it’s unfortunate because this powerhouse brown seaweed subspecies is one of the healthiest, most sustainable seafood products there is!

Kelp has been steadily gaining notoriety and increasing in popularity, acclaimed for its sustainability profile, “superfood” nutrition profile, ocean-purifying characteristics, and support of local fishing families and the coastal economy

Vegan and vegetarian friendly, this sea vegetable can be consumed hot, cold, raw, cooked, powdered – basically any way you can imagine.

Kelp is used for various purposes and kelp’s benefits extend frommetabolic support (which aids weight loss) to immune system support, thyroid health, and more! Ready to learn more about what kelp is good for and how it can help you? 

North Coast Seafoods is here to kelp demystify this sustainable, edible superfood as well as answer your otherfrequently asked questions about fish and seafood.

Kelp is a Type of Seaweed

Kelp, or sea kelp, is a type of seaweed – brown seaweed, to be exact. But think of this as a sea vegetable. While it grows naturally in the ocean, it can also be farmed and harvested for food, like kelp noodles, dried kelp, and kelp wrappers for sushi (similar to nori). Because of its salty umami flavor, kelp can even be used as a seasoning.

brown seaweed being pulled out of a kelp forest in the ocean
Photo Credit: Atlantic Sea Farms

Kelp is Vegetarian and Vegan-Friendly

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian – not a pescatarian – seafood is off limits. Right? Not so fast.

Sea kelp, and other seaweed varieties for that matter, are considered seafood. Therefore, you can eat seafood if you’re vegan if the seafood product in question is kelp!

Our Kelp Meatballs are also plant-based, gluten free, dairy free, and soy free.

kelp burger on a bun with sauce and chips served on a white plate
North Coast's Salmon-Kelp "Ocean Burger" (SHOP HERE)

Kelp is Sustainable

The practice of farming kelp in “kelp forests” is a 100% sustainable and regenerative farming practice, improving the ocean water quality where it is grown.

Kelp is also a zero-input crop, requiring no arable land, no fresh water, and no pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, or irrigation to be grown.

Kelp can grow and be farmed anywhere seaweed grows. Maine Sugar Kelp is cultivated during the fall-winter off-season by local fishing families. The Kelp farming process follows these steps:

  1. Arranging kelp seeds into “seed-lines” that are affixed to ropes in the autumn
  2. Submerging the seed-lines and rope below the ocean’s surface or on the ocean floor to remain there throughout the winter season
  3. Harvesting the kelp that has grown by early spring

 benefits of eating kelp

Kelp is Earth Friendly

Kelp farming is carbon-negative and requires no land, irrigation, or pesticides to be grown! It’s naturally easy-to-grow and low-maintenance. Kelp also locally mitigates the effects of ocean acidification!

Kelp fights climate change by removing carbon from the ocean, helping to improve water quality and mitigate the effects of ocean acidification.

Kelp Offers Various Health Benefits

Kelp is one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet, packed with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. Don’t take our word as medical advice by any means, but kelp offersa variety of health benefits!

Just a few kelp benefits worth noting include:

  • Low in both calories and fat content
  • Fantastic source of iodine, magnesium, potassium, iron, folic acid, and even probiotics
  • Packed with antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids
  • Can raise energy levels and boost brain function
  • Helps support bone strength and may help improve cardiovascular function
  • Helps enhance metabolism and improve blood pressure
  • Supports a healthy immune system and eye health
  • Has the highest natural concentration of calcium than any food out there - more calcium per ounce than milk!

Safe to say that kelp is a “superfood”! That said, if you’re a woman who’s pregnant or breastfeeding or are taking thyroid medications, you shouldavoid kelpsupplements or speak to your physician about potential interactions before consuming them. 

The reasoning behind this is that kelp actually is a fantastic source of iodine. Therefore,consuming kelp while pregnant can be safe in moderation – just always be sure to consult your doctor if in doubt!

Maine Kelp

Our team at North Coast Seafoods proudly partners with Atlantic Sea Farms to source our kelp, which is grown and hand-harvested by local, independent family farmers in the clean, cold waters of the Gulf of Maine.

Maine-grown Kelp offers a promising way for fishing families to diversify their income streams in the lobster off-season.

Kelp (multiple species) is also verified by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute (GMRI) as a Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested ® species.

In 2021, kelp forests planted and harvested by Atlantic Sea Farms’ local farmers helped remove 107,000 lbs. of carbon removed from Maine’s waters.

bowl of kelp in a white ceramic bowl
Photo Credit: Atlantic Sea Farms

Try Kelp for Yourself

Whether you’re looking to incorporate a kelp salad into your daily meal plan or you want to eat kelp in a more adventurous way – like kelp ice cream, try kelp today! This sea vegetable is green (in more ways than one), not to mention delicious and nutritious! 

Looking to incorporate kelp into your diet stealthily? Try our salmon kelp ocean burgers or try a kelp salad alongside one of our other delicious products!

Kelp Meatballs

Developed by our in-house Chef of Research and Development, Andrew Wilkinson, our Kelp Meatballs are a one-of-a-kind plant-based products that are trendy, delicious, healthy, and effortless to prepare.

These Kelp items are naturally vegan and gluten free with a clean label list of ingredients composed primarily of kelp, green chickpeas, brown rice, and spices, rewarding a bright, herby, fresh flavor profile and umami richness.

 kelp meatballs in a variety of different dishes

Order Kelp From North Coast Seafoods

Kelp Meatballs and Sliders are available now for wholesale orders and home delivery! To order or learn more about how to become a distribution partner or retail customer, please email or reach out via our Contact Us page.

Our Salmon-Kelp Ocean Burger and Kelp Meatballs are also available for direct home delivery.

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