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Kombu is a brown seaweed found off the coasts of Korea and Japan. It's used interchangeably in recipes that require Wakame (a similar form of seaweed) and Laminaria japonica (actually a type of algae). Low in calories and fat-free, yet high in rich vitamins and nutrients, Kombu has long been a staple in East Asian cuisine. Kombu, also called Kashima or haidai, is commonly used to make cooking stock. Grown by seaweed farmers, it's usually sold in a dried form or pickled in vinegar. Although it may be used in place of Nori for a sushi wrap, it's most common in a salad or soup.

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1. Stronger Bones

Kombu has a surprising amount of calcium - especially beneficial for those who follow a vegan diet or otherwise do not consume dairy products. This vital mineral is key to building strong bones and preserving the integrity of your skeleton as you age. The correct amount of calcium is essential for post-menopausal and senior women. One ounce of Kombu provides about 12 percent of the average daily allowance of calcium. Adding this tangy, earthy seaweed to a compound salad or mixing it into homemade soups is an excellent way to ensure that you meet your dietary requirements.

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