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WAKAME – Nutrition & Wellness

Wakame nutrition & wellness properties come from its high concentration in essential nutrients and the presence of unique compounds that support the cardiovascular system, maintain hormonal balance, strengthen bones, improve circulation and promote skin health. In Asia, especially Japan, the beneficial effects of Wakame have been understood since antiquity as noted in folk sayings such as "Wakame is food & medicine all in one"

Although all seaweed contain all minerals & vitamins, they do so with various ratios; Wakame's mineral strength lies in its calcium, magnesium, manganese & iodine levels. In addition, it contains high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K, in addition to riboflavin (B2) and folate (B12); while providing very low amount of calories and virtually no fat.

Some of the therapeutic properties & health benefits offered by this seaweed are discussed briefly below.

  • Iodine: seaweed are the best source of iodine in nature. Brown seaweeds, in particular, tend to be the highest in this essential trace mineral.  It helps to normalize thyroid and thereby, controls the metabolic process in our body. In addition, findings of a study undertaken in 2003 and published in the journal Breast Cancer Research corroborated the claim that iodine has the aptitude to restrict as well as do away with mammary tumours. This finding may possibly help to elucidate as to why breast cancer is rare in Japanese women as well as men, as they often include this seaweed in their meals. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651528/)
  • Calcium and Magnesium: These are the two main essential minerals contained by wakame. 100 grams of this seaweed encloses about 15 milligrams of calcium, which is about 15% of our RDI (recommended daily intake), while the same amount of wakame contains about 107 milligrams of magnesium, which is roughly 25% of our RDI. Calcium helps to make our bones and teeth stronger & magnesium is required for the nervous system at the same time as it facilitates the body assimilation of calcium. There are essential in putting off osteoporosis as well as several other diseases related to the bones.
  •  Omega-3 (EPA): this is the omega-3 fatty acid found in sea plant. Fish also has it and obtain it from the algae they consume. An essential fatty acid because it’s not made by the human body, but it is still needed for normal metabolism. Especially important in the Western world were there is excess consumption of omega-6 fats. This vital nutrient protects us from several health conditions, including anxiety, depression, memory issues related to aging and also rheumatoid arthritis. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12480795)
  • Iron and protein: If not the most excellent, nearly all sea vegetables and seaweeds are among the best sources of plant-based iron as well as protein. The amount of both varies per specie.
  • Folate/ B12: an essential vitamin is present in wakame. It’s needed for copying and synthesizing DNA, producing new cells, and supporting nerve and immune function. Folate is known to be one of the most critical vitamins or a healthy and vibrant pregnancy. For pregnant women, a folate deficiency is especially risky because it may lead to developmental issues in the foetus.

HORMONE BALANCE
Wakame provides iodine, manganese, iron and calcium, three minerals that help to balance hormones naturally. Manganese and calcium help to improve symptoms of PMS; a study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who have lower levels of manganese in their blood experienced more pain and mood-related symptoms during PMS and menstruation. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8498421)

CANCER
Like most Brown Seaweeds, Wakame is a good resource of lignans, which are believed to have an important function in estrogen related cancer, especially breast cancer. In effect, findings of a study carried in 2005 in the journal ‘Cancer Science’ show that this seaweed variety is effective in suppressing breast tumour growth in rats.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3651528
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17576639

OBESITY
Fat burning attributes: Scientists at the Hokkaido University in Japan have discovered that fucoxanthin (a pigment that facilitates photosynthesis and responsible for the typical brown color of wakame) has the potential to lessen fat deposits in the body of rats. According to the study, fucoxanthin fights fat in two ways: It encourages the action of protein that causes fat oxidation and is found in the type of fat that surrounds organs. It also promotes DHA production in the liver, which helps to decrease bad cholesterol or LDL. Fucoxanthin also reduced abdominal white adipose tissue weights of rats and mice which is accountable for heart ailments as well as obesity. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4557005   and   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18296336
Wakame also comes with very few calories, fat or cholesterol.
Another interesting study published in 2004 suggests that the fucoxanthin found in wakame may act as a chemopreventive and chemotherapeutic compound in colon cancer cells (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15535974)

DIABETES
An important component in wakame, fucoxanthin, exerts an anti-diabetic effect. A 2009 study conducted in Japan examined the anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of fucoxanthin-rich wakame lipids on obese mice. Before the wakame treatment, the mice showed signs of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia, but adding wakame into the diet improved these conditions. The researchers concluded that wakame has the ability to prevent diabetes, related disorders and obesity by reversing insulin resistance that is due to a high fat diet. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21475918)

REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE & CHOLESTEROL
Studies are analysing the positive effect of dieatary wakame on hypertension and how it may lower cholesterol by altering the activities of enzymes involved in fatty acid metabolism in the liver.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12464726
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11091100
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3199754/
http://jn.nutrition.org/content/129/1/146.full

Disclaimer: This material is provided for educational purposes only and IS NOT intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This information is generic and may not include the latest research. We encourage you to do your own research and discuss your findings with a qualified health practitioner who can help you validate the outcomes in the context of your specific & individual health situation.

 

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