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It may be one of the reasons why Japan is home to a “blue zone.”

If you’ve ever eaten seaweed salad at your favourite sushi restaurant, you’re probably familiar with wakame (aka Undaria pinnatifida, for the geeks). 

This brownish or deep-green seaweed isn’t just valuable for its distinctively briny flavour. According to BLUE ZONES®, wakame and other seaweeds promote longevity. No wonder Japan’s Okinawa is a “blue zone,” where more people live past 100 years of age.

Read on for some facts about wakame’s nutrition and health benefits. You’ll know why the vegans (non-vegans and everyone!) are going nuts for that dried seaweed snack.

Burns More Fat

Research shows that the component known as fucoxanthin in wakame promotes fat burning in two ways. First, it boosts DHA production in the liver, decreasing LDL, or “bad cholesterol”. Second, it supports the protein that oxidizes fat, particularly around organs and the abdominal region. 

May Prevent Osteoporosis

Wakame is an excellent plant-based source of calcium, with one 100-gram serving providing 15% of your daily calcium needs. This essential nutrient, of course, increases bone growth, stimulates bone repair and may prevent osteoporosis

Fights Diabetes

The fucoxanthin in wakame not only encourages fat-burning but protects the body from Type 2 diabetes. In a 2009 study, researchers found that obese mice suffering from hyperglycemia, hyperleptinemia, and hyperinsulinemia—all of which are connected with diabetes—reversed these conditions when wakame was added to their diet

Balances Hormones Naturally

With its high levels of iodine, manganese, magnesium and calcium, wakame helps balance hormones naturally. One study shows that women with insufficient manganese tend to suffer more from pain and mood disturbances prior to menstruation and during menopause.

By eating more wakame, PMS-prone women can reduce some of these distressing symptoms. 

Reduce High Blood Pressure

Wakame appears to have the ability to naturally prevent high blood pressure. Multiple studies have observed that this seaweed tends to reduce systolic blood pressure and hypertension. In fact, it may even have a beneficial effect on blood pressure among children

Wakame offers a host of health and nutritional benefits – most of them are probably still undiscovered! This wonder (sea)weed can be added to almost every recipe on your meal menu – salads, sushi, soups, smoothies, etc. Have it raw or snack on dried wakame chips/flakes. 

Just play around with this #FunctionalFood. Reap all of its umami-rich benefits and enjoy a long, healthy life!

References

  1. Why Japan’s longest-lived women hold the key to better health BLUE ZONES®
  2. Risks and benefits of consuming edible seaweeds Nutr Rev. 2019 May; 77(5): 307–329.
  3. Seaweed, wakame, raw FoodData Central Agricultural Research Service, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
  4. Healthy bones – Activity and nutrition Paediatr Child Health. 2002 May-Jun; 7(5): 315–317.
  5. Anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of fucoxanthin on diet-induced obesity conditions in a murine model Mol Med Rep. Nov-Dec 2009;2(6):897-902.
  6. Calcium Strategies for Vegans American College of Healthcare Sciences
  7. Dietary minerals, reproductive hormone levels, and sporadic anovulation: associations in healthy women with regular menstrual cycles Br J Nutr. 2018 Jul; 120(1): 81–89.
  8. Seaweed intake and blood pressure levels in healthy pre-school Japanese children Nutr J. 2011; 10: 83.