KOMBU SEAWEED. Laminaria japonica
Laminaria japonica, known by its Japanese name Kombu, is a brown seaweed that can measure up to 2-3 metres in length and grows in the rocky depths of very clean waters in Russia, forming beautiful aquatic forests of fleshy ribbons.
Since antiquity, it has primarily been consumed in Japan where it is considered a fundamental dietary element, due to its nutritional benefits, its high protein and vitamin content and its high concentration of minerals such as easily-absorbing calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and iodine.
Nowadays, it is highly appreciated for its nutritional properties and for its organoleptic properties, it is particularly rich in glutamic acid, a natural flavour enhancer and responsible for the “umami” taste.
Apart from its nutritional components, Kombu seaweed contains bioactive compounds. Research into its natural pigments reveals that they have antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, anti-obesity, neuro-protective and osteoporosis preventative effects.
Kombu seaweed possesses technological characteristics that enable it to be incorporated into the manufacture of foodstuffs, such as jams, cream cheeses, seasonings, meat-seaweed emulsions, flour for pasta production, biscuits, breads, sausages, etc. We can eat it as another vegetable, adding it to stews, rice, pasta, scrambled eggs, soups, or as a garnish for dishes and meats.
Nutritional value of Laminaria japonica known as Kombu seaweed
From a nutritional viewpoint, Kombu seaweed is low in calories, has a high concentration of proteins, dietetic fibre, vitamins and minerals.
In general, the proteins present in seaweed are high quality ones, complementary in combination with vegetable, grain and legume proteins. Kombu seaweed’s proteins contain a high concentration of amino acids, which are fundamental for reinforcing and stimulating the mind, aiding the memory and cerebral activity.
Kombu seaweed is an excellent source of vitamins, especially vitamin A (retinol), vitamins E, C and D, and complex B vitamins such as B9 or folic acid.
The mineral content is very high, around 36% of its dry weight, within the macro minerals, Kombu seaweed contains a high amount of calcium and magnesium, which are fundamental for muscular activity, and phosphorus, 10g of Kombu seaweed provides 115mg of calcium, the equivalent in 100ml of milk. The micro minerals include iodine, iron and zinc.
They provide a low Na/K ratio, which contributes to the reduction of hypertension.
Their lipid content is very low. The proportion of essential fatty acids in seaweed is greater than that in land plants.
According to Pedro Rodenas, president of the sector of herbal physicians in the College of Doctors in Barcelona, in an era such as the current one, in which there is a problem with the overconsumption of proteins, animal fats and refined products, as well as a deficit in vitamins, minerals and trace elements, seaweed appears as a correction factor for these shortcomings: it contains essential amino acids, is low in fat, abundant in all kinds of minerals, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants.