What are…Kelp Noodles and Are They Healthy?

Sharing is caring!

I first saw kelp noodles at a trade show in London back in 2013- and had no idea what they were. At the time, the only way  I could describe them was ‘popping seaweed’ as they pretty much exploded in my mouth. I was immediately fascinated.

tangle of kelp noodles on a green bowl

The kelp noodles were on a stand from a Korean company and they were dishing out little dishes of what looked like ice in soy sauce.

I was intrigued and took one, oh my lord, it was strange.

It didn’t have much taste on its own, instead, it picks up the taste of whatever you dip it in, but as I bit into it, it almost exploded in my mouth with a crack.

If you’ve ever had fish roe on sushi, it was that same type of feeling.

I was intrigued and tried to get more information but the guy doing the cooking didn’t speak much English and the other people on the stand were tucking into lunch and so I thought I’d look into it later.

Well, that was harder than I thought. Much google image searching later and I came across the same product under another name. It seems ‘popping seaweed’ aka Seaweed Noodles are also known as ‘Kelp Noodles’ and they’re big news in the raw food community.

poppingseaweed

At the time I first wrote this post, that was about all I had to go on regards the health benefits of kelp noodles but now, updating this post in 2020 and information on kelp noodles is a lot more readily available – so, I can now answer all your questions on kelp noodle nutrition – and more.

What Are Kelp Noodles?

They’re noodles made from kelp, a type of seaweed.

Now, this might surprise you as kelp, in its raw form, is green or brown – and you can buy green kelp noodles, yet the ones we’re talking about here are clear. How?

It seems that the clear form of the noodle has had the skin removed. It’s then turned into a powder, mixed with sodium alginate (another seaweed-derived substance) and water and created into noodles.

Are Kelp Noodles Healthy?

They’re definitely good if you’re on a diet.

Like those miracle shirataki noodles that have hit the news in the last year or so, Kelp Noodles are fat-free and have virtually no carbohydrates or calories.

In fact, one brand ‘SeaTangle‘ say a 100g serving contains just 6 ‘kelp noodle’ calories. It also contains 15% of the (US) daily RDA for calcium and 4% of the (US) RDA for iron.

Kelp is also a good source of iodine which we need for thyroid function. While this didn’t used to be something we lacked in our diet, recent studies suggest that might be changing. Dairy and iodised salt used to provide us with enough iodine to meet the amount we needed each day, but changes in the way dairy is farmed, and a move for many people of reducing dairy and salt in the diet means iodine deficiency is potentially becoming more common.

A 2018 report found up to 51 per cent of teenage girls studied in the UK were mildly deficient. Groups of pregnant women were also found to be low in iodine.

Eating large quantities of kale, cabbage and other goitrogenic vegetables raw (cooked is fine) can also interfere with iodine uptake.

A 100g serving of kelp noodles contains about 55mcg of iodine – that’s about the same as in a cup of milk. Adding a source like kelp noodles could be a good way to increase levels – especially for those on a vegan diet.

So yes, as part of a balanced diet, kelp noodles can be good for you.

How Do You Use Kelp Noodles?

They can be eaten raw tossed in sauces like soy or Ponzu as a side dish. Or, they’re also a great addition to add crunch and bulk to salads – I like them with smoked salmon and avocado with a twist of lemon.

If you want to cook them you can use them in soups, stir-fries and other dishes. Remember, they don’t have a taste of their own, so you want to add flavour to them.

The easiest idea is just to stir fry lots of vegetables and some soy, ginger and garlic. Toss the noodles just before you’re about to remove the mix from the heat.

If you’re going to eat them raw, then marinating them in the sauce, or the dressing you’re going to use on the salad, for a few hours will give the maximum flavour concentration.

Just make sure you rinse them well before you use them or they will be very salty. That also goes for the dark green kelp noodles too – I once made that mistake with a pack I bought at Wholefoods. It wasn’t pleasant.

Any Downsides?

They aren’t as cheap as normal pasta – to say the least. However, Aa little goes a long way,  and you’d probably get 4-5 servings from that packet if you used them as an ‘add on’ rather than the main base of a dish but, they are still pretty costly.

Although, if you’re raw, vegan or veggie, split the pack in three and based a meal around them and that’s probably the same price as adding meat or fish.

Kelp noodles are also lower in fibre than traditional pasta so make sure you’re upping your vegetable and fruit intake if you’re using them to replace normal pasta in your diet rather than just trying something new.

Are Kelp Noodles Gluten-Free?

Yes. They are also suitable for those following a low FODMAP diet.

Are Kelp Noodles Keto-Friendly?

A 100g serving of kelp noodles has 1.3g of carbohydrates – including 0.2g of fibre. That gives them a net carb value of 1.1g – depending on your keto plan you could be eating 20-50g of net carbs a day so, yes, they are very likely to fit the bill.

Where to Buy Kelp Noodles

In the UK, you can order kelp noodles from Planet Organic who stock the Sea Tangle range. Click to check them out here. 

If you’re in the US, you can buy kelp noodles from Amazon. Click here to check prices and availability.

2 Comments

  1. Fiona

    I note your £ comment. I worry that increasingly, seaweed is being used as added value when it is in fact a wild food. In the West it has been used for garden manure with only laver, carrageen and to some extent dulse being used in the kitchen. Unlike mushrooms, toxicity isn’t an issue; some seaweeds just don’t taste very nice. As an extension of The Forager’s Kitchen (coastal chapter has some seaweed recipes) I have just finished writing a book using easily identified British seaweeds. In essence it’s a cook’s guide to seaweed. It would be brilliant if seaweed could be seen as a wild ingredient, in much the same way that the bramble is, rather than packaged in artisan packs and sold in expensive food halls.

    Reply
    1. healthehelen

      Good point – and the seaweed trend is definitely set to continue. It’s being seen as a good way to reduce fat in foods as well (don’t ask me exactly why I’d need to do a bit more reading). Admittedly, this product didn’t look or taste like dark seaweed – it’s nowhere near as strong – but love the idea of your book.

      Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *