Wakame’s 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 nutritional value of Wakame has been widely understood for hundreds of years as is evidenced by the saying, ‘Wakame is food & medicine all in one’.
Although all seaweeds contain a rich variety of minerals & vitamins, they do so with various ratios. Wakame’s mineral strength lies in its calcium, magnesium, manganese & iodine stores. In addition, it contains 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 wakame seaweed are:
- Rich source of bio-available iodine: seaweeds are the best source of iodine in nature. Brown seaweeds, in particular, tend to be the highest in this essential trace mineral. Iodine helps to normalize the thyroid, supporting metabolism. Findings of a 2003 study, published in the Breast Cancer Research journal, corroborated the claim that iodine has the aptitude to restrict as well as do away with mammary tumors. This finding may possibly help to explain why breast cancer is rare in Japanese populations who consume large quantities of of seaweed in their diet, relative to other cultures.
- good source of Calcium and Magnesium: 100 grams of wakame seaweed contains approximately 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, and it also helps in the body’s assimilation of calcium.
- Good Omega-3 (EPA) source: this is the omega-3 fatty acid found in sea plants. Fish also have Omega-3 (they obtain it from the algae they consume). Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid because it’s not made by the human body, but it is still needed for normal metabolism. This vital nutrient protects us from several health conditions, including anxiety, depression, memory issues related to aging and also rheumatoid arthritis.
- Great source of iron and protein: nearly all seaweeds offer iron and protein, but wakame is particularly strong.
- Plant based folate/ B12: an essential vitamin, which 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. For those eating a diet free of animal protein, wakame offers an excellent source of B12 – hard to find in any other plants.
Eating wakame regularly in your diet can help improve the following areas of your health:
HORMONE BALANCE – iodine, manganese, iron and calcium, minerals that help to balance hormones naturally, are found in wakame. 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.
CANCER – like most brown seaweeds, Wakame offers a good supply 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.
OBESITY – wakame contains elements which have been shown to have fat burning attributes. Scientists at the Hokkaido University in Japan have discovered that fucoxanthin (a pigment that facilitates photosynthesis, and is 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.
Wakame has low calories, low fat and low 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
DIABETES – An important component in wakame is fucoxanthin, which 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 hyperleptinemiut aa. Adding wakame to their 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.
REDUCES BLOOD PRESSURE & CHOLESTEROL – there are ongoing studies 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.
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.