Health benefits of wakame include its ability to aid in weight loss, lower cholesterol, boost energy levels, maintain hormonal balance, build strong bones, prevent diabetes and improve skin health. It also helps in foetal growth, boosts heart health, increases circulation, and prevents cancer.
What is Wakame?
Wakame is an edible seaweed that is commonly used in Japanese cuisine. It has an unusual brown or deep green color because it contains fucoxanthin, a unique compound rarely found in vegetables, which has several medicinal and nutritional qualities. The scientific name for wakame is Undaria pinnatifida and it is considered as one of the most invasive species of seaweed on the planet because it can grow as much as an inch per day in beaches, blocking other marine life.
In Japan, wakame is commonly used in soups, salads, as well as in the form of a side dish. It tastes briny, with a slightly sweet taste. This delicious seaweed is beginning to gain popularity in other parts of the world as well, particularly in France. The impressive list of health benefits has made wakame a staple in raw food, vegan, and macrobiotic diets.
Wakame is a low-calorie, low-fat food which contains fucoxanthin, a marine carotenoid with anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. It is a rich source of carbohydrates and protein. Its major constituent is water along with some amount of fiber and sugar. Most of these health benefits come from the rich supply of vitamins and minerals contained in its delicate green leaves. These include iodine, calcium, iron, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and magnesium, as well as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K, and vitamins B2 and B9. It is also packed with omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants like lignans.
Health Benefits of Wakame
The best thing about wakame, besides its taste and versatility, is the enormous amount of health benefits that it contains. Most of these health benefits come from the rich supply of vitamins and minerals contained in these delicate green leaves, as well as certain organic compounds that have only recently begun to be studied.
The extremely small amount of calories, carbohydrates, and fats in wakame are one reason why it fills you up without adding too many calories to your diet, but that isn’t the only reason why people turn to wakame to control their obesity. Researchers have discovered a compound called fucoxanthin in wakame that actually inhibits the accumulation of fat in the cells and stimulates fat oxidation. This unique compound, rarely found in vegetables, is the reason that wakame has its unusual brown color because it also helps in photosynthesis.
Along with its inhibitory effects on fat accumulation, fucoxanthin also stimulates the liver to increase its production of DHA, which is particularly a kind of fatty acid that actually lowers the levels of “bad” cholesterol in your system. This is the type of cholesterol commonly associated with atherosclerosis and artery blockage, so you are able to protect yourself from various heart diseases, as well as heart attacks and strokes by adding this brittle, salty seaweed to your soups and salads.
Improves Blood Circulation
The high content of iron in wakame means that it increases your production of red blood cells. Iron is an essential part of red blood cells, and higher levels mean increased circulation in your cardiovascular system, which provides additional oxygen to essential parts of the body, boosts energy, enhances the health of your skin, and speeds up the healing process of all the tissues and organs in your body.
Although it might seem like an insignificant addition to your diet, wakame can actually help to protect your body from developing cancer. Iodine, which is an essential part of any diet, is very high in all seaweeds, particularly wakame. Iodine has been connected to lower levels of breast cancer and this benefit is evidenced by many people who consume wakame. Furthermore, the lignans found in it have also been linked to lower levels of breast cancer.
Magnesium is an extremely versatile and useful mineral in our body. The high levels in wakame mean that this variety of seaweed can help our body transfer energy efficiently, regulate hormones throughout the body, and help our body produce and utilize protein, which is essential for almost every bodily function related to growth or repair.
Improves Infant Health
Folate, also known as Vitamin B9, is extremely vital for pregnant women, as it has been consistently connected with lowered chances of neural tube defects in infants. Wakame contains significant amounts of folate, so pregnant women should add some Japanese dishes to their diet.
Improves Bone Health
Calcium is one of the most important minerals when it comes to protecting the integrity and durability of our bones. The high level of calcium found in wakame helps your body with bone growth and speeds up repair, thereby preventing early onset osteoporosis and keeping you fit and active well into your old age.
Iodine is the most important component of the hormonal balance in our body. It is an integral aspect of creating the thyroid hormone, which controls a number of processes throughout the body, and it is also necessary for the production of energy in the body. High levels of iodine in wakame have been praised around the world as a healthy, delicious way to keep your energy levels up and your hormones balanced.
Word of Caution: Although the vast majority of the components in wakame are beneficial for your health, it does have a relatively high level of sodium, which isn’t the best choice for people already suffering from obesity or blood pressure problems. Sodium works against potassium to lower blood pressure, so be careful not to over-consume wakame in your meals. Other than that, enjoy this delicious Japanese delicacy!