Kombu seaweed, an ingredient of macrobiotic cuisine: here are its properties, uses

The kombu seaweed is rich in iodine, it can be useful in case of slow metabolism and to dispose of excess fats and liquids. But be careful not to exceed the doses. Here are the properties and contraindications of the kombu seaweed.

From the sea comes a food that can be considered to all intents and purposes a supplement and natural remedy: the kombu seaweed. Well known and appreciated especially in Japan, this, like other types of algae, is a fundamental ingredient of macrobiotic cuisine.

Under the name of Kombu there are actually a series of brown algae of the Laminaria family of which the best known and most used are Laminaria Japonica (which comes from Japan) and Laminaria digitata (from Brittany).

Excellent for flavoring foods in a natural way, thanks to the presence of glutamic acid, the Kombu seaweed stands out for its nutritional characteristics: it is rich in iodine, mineral salts, vitamins and fibers.

Among the advantages it offers there is also that of helping the detoxification of the body, promoting digestion by making foods more digestible, improving circulation, awakening a slow metabolism, strengthening the immune system and more. But let’s take a closer look at all the properties of the kombu seaweed.

Kombu seaweed: properties and benefits

✓Accelerates the metabolism

The kombu seaweed is characterized by the large percentage of iodine it contains, higher than all other seaweeds. This substance is essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones which in turn stimulate and promote the body’s metabolism by acting positively in particular towards fats and carbohydrates.

✓Kombu seaweed has draining and detoxifying power

Another interesting property of kombu is the draining and detoxifying effect it offers. In addition to stimulating the elimination of excess fluids, this natural remedy, thanks to its absorbent capacity, is able to help our body to dispose of toxins but also traces of heavy metals that may be present.

✓Strengthens the immune system

Thanks to the presence of chlorophyll and other substances, the kombu seaweed has shown itself capable of strengthening the immune defenses of our body. A moderate but constant consumption can therefore help us to better overcome the periods in which it is common to run into colds and flu.

✓Kombu seaweed to promote digestion and regulate intestine

Using kombu seaweed in the preparation of your favorite dishes has the advantage not only of flavoring and enriching them with useful substances for our body but also of making them lighter and more digestible. Thanks to the presence of alginic acid, this alga promotes intestinal transit helping in case of constipation.

✓Kombu seaweed: regulates cholesterol levels and helps circulation

Thanks to the presence of Laminarin, the kombu seaweed also offers a cholesterol-lowering action. It therefore regulates blood cholesterol levels and also helps circulation, which is why in some cases it is recommended for those who follow diets aimed at controlling excess fats in the blood.

Uses of kombu seaweed

The kombu seaweed is found on the market in different forms: dried as it is collected or reduced to flakes or powder for greater practicality in use. If you choose the whole dry one, remember that, before using it in the preparations, it is necessary to rehydrate it by soaking it for about 10 minutes or until it has regained its original appearance. Later it can be used as a sort of “vegetable nut” to flavor broths or soups. Alternatively, it is possible to choose the powder version, to be used to flavor and enrich dishes of various kinds with iodine. But in what situations can we use kombu seaweed?

1. Make legumes more digestible

Many people find it difficult to digest legumes, so kombu can help. Just add a piece of seaweed to the cooking water or to the soaking water of the legumes to make sure that the latter soften and are thus more easily digestible.

2. Integrate iodine and mineral salts

As we have already said, kombu seaweed is particularly rich in iodine, a substance of fundamental importance for the thyroid to function properly. Enriching your diet with kombu can therefore help to meet the needs of this substance and at the same time give our body a good dose of mineral salts that this alga contains: calcium and potassium in the first place. Its consumption is recommended especially for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

3. Enrich the flavor of dishes

The kombu seaweed has a characteristic “sea” flavor that not everyone likes but which, if liked, can enrich various dishes, such as soups, veloutes, minestrone, rice, legumes, etc. It is important, however, not to exceed the doses, both in order not to interfere too much with its strong flavor and because side effects may be encountered.

4. Macrobiotic cuisine

Macrobiotic cuisine very often uses kombu algae but also other types of algae in its most typical dishes. You can then try your hand at preparing miso soup, Dashi (typical Japanese broth), gomasio with seaweed or azuki with pumpkin and kombu.

As for the right dose not to be exceeded, those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet can use 2-3 cm of this alga a couple of times a week. The same amount or slightly less is what is generally recommended for those who follow an omnivorous diet.

A recipe with Kombu seaweed: Tofu and Kombu broth

This is a recipe with a typical oriental flavor. For the preparation we use Kombu seaweed and Tofu. Kombu seaweed (also called Kelp) is a brown seaweed that has black and thick stripes and has the property of softening the food with which it is cooked.

For this reason in macrobiotic cooking it is used to add a piece of this alga in cooking dishes. Before use, it is good to soak the seaweed for 5-10 minutes.


  • 1/2 liter of water
  • 1 10 cm strip of Kombu Seaweed
  • 1 stick of Tofu
  • Half a medium carrot
  • Half Zucchini
  • 1 large radish
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 tablespoon of Miso
  • Chives to taste


  1. Soak the kombu seaweed in water for 5/10 minutes;
  2. Keeping the same water, put on the fire, add the diced vegetables and cook for 15 minutes from boiling;
  3. Turn off the heat, remove the seaweed from the broth (if put to dry it can be used for a second time) and add the miso, mixing well;
  4. Serve in cups with a sprinkling of chives for garnish.

Contraindications and side effects of the kombu seaweed

Kombu seaweed is a precious resource but should not be abused to avoid side effects such as hypertension, tachycardia or irritability. Since it is rich in iodine, it is absolutely to be avoided if you suffer from hyperthyroidism or are taking specific drugs for the thyroid or metabolism. During pregnancy and breastfeeding, it is better to consult your doctor.

Kombu seaweed: price and where to buy it

Kombu seaweed can be found in organic food stores, even online, or you can find it in ethnic cuisine stores, in departments dedicated to Japanese cuisine. It is most easily found in the form of dried algae to be used in the manner described above. Before, mainly kombu seaweeds from Japan were sold, but currently, after the nuclear accident in Fukushima which contaminated the Japanese seas, it is advisable to choose algae from other sources and possibly organic.

The price varies according to the manufacturer and the type of product. Generally it is around 6-9 USD for a 50 gram pack of seaweed. As we have seen, it also exists in the powder version or in the form of supplements, available in herbal medicine or parapharmacy.


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