Wakame seaweed has been cultivated for centuries in Japan by sea farmers for human food – and offerings of it were made to the spirits of ancestors and even taxes were paid in seaweed. Today it is grown in Argentina, New Zealand and France. Without fertilizers or pesticides, and dried in the sun, it can be harvested year round.
The dried seaweed adds a delicious, salty umami flavour to food and it's also one of the few plant-based sources of eicosapentaenoic acid – the omega 3 fatty acid which is almost exclusively found in fatty fish that feed on algae, as previously noted. Here Rachael Link, MS, RD, HealthLine.com, reflects on potential health benefits of wakame seaweed:
“Wakame is a type of edible seaweed that has been cultivated in Japan and Korea for centuries.
In addition to bringing a unique taste and texture to soups and salads, wakame is low in calories but high in several nutrients that are essential to health.
Plus, it offers a long list of potential benefits, including improved heart health and enhanced weight loss.
Here are 8 surprising health benefits of wakame seaweed.
Low in Calories and Rich in Nutrients
Wakame is low in calories but supplies a good amount of important nutrients.
- Calories: 5
- Protein: 0.5 grams
- Carbs: 1 gram
- Iodine: 280% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Manganese: 7% of the RDI
- Folate: 5% of the RDI
- Sodium: 4% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 3% of the RDI
- Calcium: 2% of the RDI
Each serving of wakame also contains vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as iron, copper and phosphorus.
May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
One of the most impressive health benefits of wakame is its ability to block cancer cell growth in some animal and test-tube studies.
For example, one animal study showed that giving wakame seaweed to rats helped suppress the growth and spread of breast cancer cells (12Trusted Source).
Another test-tube study found that specific compounds extracted from wakame seaweed were effective at inhibiting the growth of colon and kidney cancer cells (13Trusted Source).
However, some studies have had mixed results. One study in 52,679 women reported that increased seaweed consumption was linked to a higher risk of thyroid cancer, which could be a result of excess iodine intake (14Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).
Therefore, more research is necessary to determine how wakame may impact cancer cell formation in humans.
May Aid Weight Loss
If you’re looking to drop a few extra pounds, you may want to consider incorporating wakame into your diet.
Not only is it high in several key nutrients, but it has also been shown to promote weight control in animal studies.
One study found that supplementing with wakame seaweed extract suppressed weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet (19Trusted Source).
What’s more, another study found that wakame exhibited anti-obesity effects in rats and was able to reduce fat tissue (20Trusted Source).
Because most research has been conducted in animals, additional high-quality studies are needed to look at how wakame may affect weight in humans.
May Reduce Blood Pressure and Heart Disease Risk
High blood pressure is a condition that places extra strain on your heart and blood vessels, weakening your heart muscle and increasing your risk of heart disease (6Trusted Source).
Some research suggests that adding wakame to your diet can help keep blood pressure under control and optimize heart health.
For instance, one ten-week study showed that administering substances extracted from wakame to rats significantly decreased systolic blood pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading) (7Trusted Source).
Another study in 417 children showed that a higher intake of seaweed lowered blood pressure (8Trusted Source).
However, more human studies are needed to evaluate how wakame may affect blood pressure among the general population.”
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Read More … Article Source: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/wakame#section3
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