What is the difference between kelp and seaweed, and which is the best option for your health?
In the world of superfoods, seaweed dominates (and rightly so). The popularity of this humble marine plant has skyrocketed in recent years, with more and more people becoming aware of the numerous health benefits seaweed can provide. In fact, according to a report from Grand View Research, the global seaweed market is expected to grow at a rate of 8.9% between 2018 and 2024.
But the term “seaweed” can mean many different things.
One of the most widely-known forms of seaweed is kelp, or sea kelp. In fact, kelp is one of the most commonly farmed types of seaweed, known for growing remarkably quickly (up to 61cm per day) without the need for fertiliser or weeding.
For those consumers looking to seaweed as a healthy food to incorporate in their diet, however, it’s important to look beyond kelp and explore species with greater health benefits. Here’s why you shouldn’t use the terms ‘kelp’ and ‘seaweed’ interchangeably, and how other forms of seaweed can do more to support health and wellbeing in the long run.
What is the difference between kelp and seaweed?
Both seaweed and sea kelp are names used to describe marine plants that can benefit our health, thanks to their high nutritional value. However, seaweed is a broader term that encompasses many different species. In fact, It describes a whole host of marine-based plant species and algae, while sea kelp is a quite specific term: it describes the largest sub-group of seaweed.
To add a little more context, the term seaweed actually encompasses over 10,000 different species. It can take on an array of different shapes, sizes, colours and flavours.
To be more specific, seaweed can be broken down into three groups – green, brown and red. The colour is related to how much light the seaweed absorbs via photosynthesis, which in turn decides how close to the surface it grows. Sea kelp is an example of a brown seaweed, and is mostly found in rocky coastlines and only in saltwater.
Meanwhile, seaweed as a whole can have very different growing habits. It can grow in any marine environment, from oceans and rivers to lochs and lakes. For example, the Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed found in Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® organic seaweed supplements is wild-harvested from the pristine lochs of the Scottish Outer Hebrides.
More importantly, both kelp and seaweed contain iodine, making them the only viable vegan source of the nutrient. As more and more people take to a plant-based lifestyle, seaweed is becoming increasingly essential as the purchase of milk products drops.
Regular readers of our blog will know all about the health benefits of iodine, but the role that this nutrient has on your thyroid health cannot be understated. Your thyroid, in turn, is essential for supporting your metabolism, your cognitive development, your skin health and more.
Kelp vs seaweed - discover Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® organic seaweed capsules
When shopping for any form of seaweed product for health it is always important to pay close attention to the species and the nutritional content on offer. This is because cheaper, less trustworthy products may advertise themselves as seaweed products, but can actually contain only small amounts of kelp alongside various fillers.
The Ascophyllum seaweed we use in both consumer products and food ingredients is fully traceable and sustainable, and is the world’s only DNA Authenticated Seaweed. This means each batch is tested to ensure it’s safe, and a good source of essential nutrients.
Just one of Doctor Seaweed’s Weed & Wonderful® 500mg organic seaweed supplements contains as much iodine as a portion of haddock, making it easier than ever to reap the rewards of high quality seaweed every day.