It's slimy, it's wiggly, it's weird, and it just might be the vegetable that saves the planet. We're talking about kelp, or seaweed, the underwater plant that we predict (or at least hope) is going to take the place of kale as America's green superfood of choice. Here in the U.S., most of us know kelp by the salty seaweed salad often served at Japanese restaurants, but it is so much more than a crunchy appetizer. In fact, according to a new video from web show AsapScience, kelp might just be the earth-friendliest, most nutritious vegetable in the world.
Let's start with the environmental benefits. As a whole, the agriculture industry accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emissions (and yes, kale is part of that), but AsapScience says that kelp actually has a negative footprint as it absorbs dissolved nitrogen, phosphorous, and carbon dioxide. Plus, because it grows in the ocean, seaweed doesn't require any land, fresh water, fertilizers, or pesticides. Kelp can grow even under the least hospitable conditions—scientists planted a field of kelp in the murky waters off the coast of the Bronx, and amazingly, it didn't take in any toxins or harmful metals. It actually grew faster because there were overall more nutrients in the water. As AsapScience puts it, kelp "is like the Tesla of food."
All of that goes without mentioning kelp's nutritional perks. The plant contains iodine, magnesium, and selenium and is a great source fiber, protein, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. One study found that the sugars in brown seaweed may even inhibit the uptake of fat. (That means you might actually lose weight by eating kelp.)
There are about 30 different kinds of kelp in total. The only downside is that most of them don't seem particularly delicious to the American palate. That said, a couple of years ago, scientists discovered a type of kelp called dulse, which tastes alarmingly like bacon when fried.
Pick up a bag of dulse below and make yourself AsapScience's "KLT" sandwich recipe. (That's just fried kelp, lettuce, tomato, and vegan mayo on your bread of choice.) The environment (and your body) will be better for it.