Wakame - Japanese seaweed and its benefits

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Wakame [若布] is a species of edible kelp widely consumed in Japan and Asia. In this article we are going to talk all about this seaweed and how it is consumed, what dishes it tends to be in and what its health benefits are.

What is Wakame seaweed?

Wakame [ワカメ] usually written in katakana has its scientific name Undaria pinnatifida. It is a green or brown seaweed of the family Chigaisoidae which can be found written with [若布], [和布] and [稚海藻].

Usually seaweed grows south of Hokkaido on the Sea side of Japan, on the southwestern Pacific coast from Hokkaido to Kyushu, and on both shores in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, close to the low tide line.

In the United States it is often called sea mustard. It adheres to rocks and can reach a length of up to 2 meters. Seaweed is easy to dry and light to transport, so its high consumption for millennia.

It is usually sold salted and dry packaged, but can be found fresh and raw during its seasons. O wakame commercially available it is green, but its real color is brown, and it turns green after it is dried and boiled.

The Korean Peninsula eats more wakame than Japan, and the average annual consumption of kelp by Korean citizens is said to be three times higher than Japan.

Wakame - a alga japonesa e seus benefícios

How to consume Wakame?

Wakame is versatile, delicious and easy to add to your kitchen. It can be used in a wide variety of recipes. It is usually sold dry and packaged to be added to salads and Japanese dishes like missochiro soup and ramen.

When using, immerse in water, remove the salt or rehydrate. They are usually boiled or dried and then chopped. Wakame is often used as an ingredient in soups, foods with vinegar, salads, fried and cooked foods.

THE seaweed it has a more sweet taste when consumed alone. Many may be wondering if this is the same nori seaweed used in sushi? Although the technique of pressing seaweed can be used with different algae, it is generally nori it is made of red algae.

Wakame - a alga japonesa e seus benefícios

The history of Wakame

Seaweed remains, including wakame, were found in remains of the Jomon period, so their consumption is millennial. In the past, edible seaweed was generally called "me".

According to Enki-shiki (927), many seaweeds, including wakame, were dedicated to deities and, according to the Shokurain Documents, were also used as salary.

One of the oldest appearances of the word wakame it's in the "Manyoshu”A compilation of poems from 759. Seaweed was used as food, an ingredient for vinegar and soup, and also for prayer rituals for a good harvest.

Japan's marine farmers have been cultivating this seaweed since the Nara period. Wakame it was the ancient expression used to refer to different types of kelp. In time, seaweed began to be distinguished, with kajime, kombu, wire and others emerging.

The first appearance in Western documents is in Nippo Jisho (1603) and is called Vacame. It was only in the year 1960 that seaweed was widely used in the United States and other countries in the West, mainly in sushi bars.

Japanese and Korean maritime farmers have cultivated wakame for centuries and are still the main producers and consumers. Japanese kelp has also been grown in France since 1983.

Wakame - a alga japonesa e seus benefícios

Health benefits of Wakame

Wakame is low in calories and rich in nutrients. Small amounts are sufficient to help ingest minerals such as iodine, magnesium, folate, calcium and manganese. It also contains vitamins A, C, E and K, iron, copper and phosphorus.

The high content of iodine can help the thyroid by preventing diseases such as hypothyroidism. Wakame also reduces the risk of high blood pressure and other heart disease. It also helps in heart health and reduces blood cholesterol levels.

The seaweed also has cancer-fighting properties, studies show that it is able to block the growth of cancer cells and inhibit the growth of colon and kidney cancer cells. Others claim that seaweed helps in the treatment of hair.

Wakame also lowers blood sugar and improves insulin resistance. Not to mention that your low calories also helps you lose weight. Japanese seaweed has anti-obesity effects capable of reducing adipose tissue and waist circumference.

Wakame also avoids the premature agingbecause it is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and beta-carotene. Because it is rich in choline it also helps brain health, which is why Japanese are smart?

Summarizing the benefits of Japanese kelp:

  • Low calories;
  • Rich in nutrients;
  • Rich in vitamins;
  • Rich in minerals;
  • Avoids thyroid;
  • Reduces cholesterol;
  • Reduces blood sugar;
  • Reduces weight;
  • Reduces cancer cells;
  • Contributes to brain health;
Wakame - a alga japonesa e seus benefícios

The Dangers of Eating Wakame

Despite the benefits, there are also dangers of consuming any type of food in excess. The fact that wakame being rich in iodine requires you to exercise caution in your consumption, not exceeding 20 grams per day.

To decrease the iodine of the wakame you can eat together with broccoli, kale and soy that usually absorb iodine. Consuming in excessive amounts can have the reverse effect on the thyroid and still cause symptoms such as fever, stomach pain, nausea and diarrhea.

Dehydrated wakame can be high in sodium, so if you have a pressure problem consume carefully. Some may contain heavy metals, but they are low amounts without worry.

In fact you don't have to worry so much about eating Wakame, some are not used to hearing it, but they are the same warnings for any food. We do not want to discourage your consumption in any way. It is like reading the medicine leaflet and seeing the rare side effects.

Where to buy Wakame?

If you want to buy Japanese kelp, we will leave some sites that sell below:

Nutritional Information of Wakame

Below is a table with nutritional information of 100 grams of wakame crude:

Energy188 kj (45 kcal)
Carbohydrate9.14 g
Sugar0.65 g
Dietary fiber0.5 g
Fat0.64 g
Saturated Fatty Acids0.13 g
Unsaturated Monovalent0.058 g
Unsaturated Multivalent0.218 g
Protein3.03 g
Tryptophan0.035 g
Treonin0.165 g
Isoleucine0.087 g
Leusin0.257 g
Ricin0.112 g
Methionine0.063 g
Cistin0.028 g
Phenylalanine0.112 g
Tyrosine0.049 g
Barin0.209 g
Arginine0.092 g
Histijin0.015 g
Alanin0.136 g
Asparaginic Acid0.179 g
Glutamic Acid0.199 g
Glycine0.112 g
Proline0.092 g
Serin0.078 g
Vitamin A Equivalent2%
Beta carotene(2%) 216 mcg
With Lutein2%
Zeaxanthin2%
Thiamine (B1)(5%) 0.06 mg
Riboflavin (B2)(19%) 0.23 mg
Niacin (B3)(11%) 1.6 mg
Pantothenic Acid (B5)(14%) 0.697 mg
Vitamin B6(0%) 0.002 mg
Folic Acid (B9)(49%) 196 µg
Hill(3%) 13.9 mg
Vitamin C(4%) 3 mg
Vitamin D(0%) 0 UI
Vitamin E(7%) 1 mg
Vitamin K(5%) 5.3 µg
Sodium(58%) 872 mg
Potassium(1%) 50 mg
Calcium(15%) 150 mg
Magnesium(30%) 107 mg
Phosphor(11%) 80 mg
Iron(17%) 2.18 mg
Zinc(4%) 0.38 mg
Copper(14%) 0.284 mg
Manganese(67%) 1.4 mg
Selenium(1%) 0.7 µg

Videos about Wakame Kelp

To finish the article we will leave some videos talking a little more about this seaweed, its benefits and recipes:

Recipe - Wakame Seaweed Salad

Seaweed Salad Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of dried Wakame seaweed in strips;
  • 1 grated carrot;
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds;
  • 3 tablespoons of sesame oil;
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce;
  • 1 clove of grated garlic;
  • salt to taste;

Preparation of Seaweed Salad

Hydrate kelp in 1 cup of water for 15 minutes. Drain the water. and toast the sesame seeds in a pan. When the seeds start to sprinkle, let them cool. In a skillet, lightly toast grated garlic; add sesame oil, mix for a few seconds, turn off the heat and allow to cool. Mix all the ingredients and serve.

It is a tip for you to also make a delicious Misoshiro with Wakame. I hope you enjoyed the article, if you did, don't forget to share it with friends and leave your comments. Thanks!