Wakame, Undaria pinnatifida, is a sea vegetable, or edible seaweed. It has a subtly sweet flavour and is most often served in soups and salads.
Wakame – for thousands of years, this mineral-rich vegetable has been a staple in Asian diets.
The Japanese have traditionally cultivated wakame by growing it on ropes tied to offshore rafts. It’s mainly the seaweed “leaves” or blades that are harvested.
However, all parts of the plant, except the root, are used. These can be eaten raw or cooked and can be added to soups and salads.
Seaweed and marine algae have more concentrated nutrition than vegetables grown on land and they have long been considered to possess powers to prolong life, prevent disease, and impart beauty and health.
This marine treasure is a nutrient powerhouse in any form. Traditionally, its healing properties are said to include everything from treating cancer, lowering cholesterol, shrinking goiters, dissolving tumors and cysts, detoxifying heavy metals, reducing water retention, and aiding in weight loss.
Wakame – Health Benefits
1. Reverses Diabetes
Wakame is rich in fucoxanthin. A 2009 study conducted in Japan examined the anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects of fucoxanthin on obese mice. When this seaweed was added to the high fat diet, it significantly suppressed body weight.
Before the wakame treatment, the mice showed signs of hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia and hyperleptinemia, but adding wakame into the diet normalized these conditions.
The researchers concluded that this seaweed has the ability to prevent diabetes, related disorders and obesity by reversing insulin resistance that is due to a high fat diet (1, 2).
2. Breast Cancer
In Traditional Chinese Medicine and Japanese folk medicine, seaweed is used to treat tumors. People who eat seaweed regularly, most notably in Japan, have dramatically lower rates of breast cancer.
Wakame was also found to reduce breast cancer proliferation in rats in one Japanese study (3).
3. Promotes Fat Burning
A Japanese study conducted at Hokkaido University suggests that the fucoxanthin present in wakame promotes fat burning within the fat cells of animals. Fucoxanthin also reduced abdominal white adipose tissue weights of rats and mice, thereby making it one of the greatfat-burning foods. (4, 5)
4. Thyroid Gland
Wakame is a good source of iodine. Iodine is needed for strong metabolism of cells – the process of converting food into energy.
It also maintains the balance of the thyroid gland and is needed for the production of thyroid hormones.
5. Prevention of Osteoporosis
Wakame is also a good source of calcium. Calcium is needed for strong healthy bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.
Note: Wakame is a sea vegetable that you can find dried inpackages in health food stores!
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