In recent years the fame of seaweed for culinary use has grown all over the world. And with good reason. In fact, algae not only give a touch of taste and color to dishes, but also bring important benefits that we will discuss in today's article.
Wakame seaweed, properties and nutrients
Wakame seaweed is a source of proteins, fibers, carbohydrates, but also vitamins, such as vitamins of group B, A, C and E, and mineral salts, such as magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese, as well as iodine (Yamada et al, Nihon Eiseigaku Zasshi, 1991). Not only that, the wakame seaweed provides antioxidant substances, such as fucoxanthin, of the carotenoid family, and fucoidan, which is a polysaccharide (Martínez-Villaluenga et al, Mar Drugs, 2018).
Wakame seaweed against obesity and diabetes
Wakame seaweed counteracts inflammation that, in the long term, can increase the risk of developing obesity. Not only that, wakame seaweed counteracts the absorption and accumulation of fats, the increase in cholesterol and triglycerides and resistance to insulin. At the same time, this special alga stimulates the metabolism (Martínez-Villaluenga et al, Mar Drugs, 2018). Studies have also observed that fucoxanthin, a substance contained in wakame seaweed, combined with pomegranate oil helps reduce the waistline and counteract the accumulation of fat in the liver (Abidov et al, Diabetes Obes Metab, 2010).
Wakame seaweed with an antitumor action
Wakame seaweed has shown an antitumor action and studies have highlighted above all its protective action for the breast. It is believed that the anti-cancer properties are due to the algae's ability to counteract angiogenesis, which is the formation of blood vessels to bring nourishment to diseased cells, and to promote apoptosis, namely programmed death, of the cancer cells (Teas et al, J Appl Phycol, 2013).
Wakame seaweed and iodine
Iodine is an essential micronutrient for the synthesis of thyroid hormones. Iodine is found in few products of terrestrial origin while fish, algae and seafood are naturally rich in iodine. Therefore, these foods are to be taken into consideration, without exaggerating, to avoid a deficiency of this substance (Aakre et al, Nutrients, 2020). In fact, a deficiency of iodine can cause thyroid disorders.
Wakame seaweed, risks and warnings
As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, wakame seaweed is a source of iodine but can also become a cause of excessive iodine intake, to be avoided. In fact, both a deficiency and an excess of iodine can lead to thyroid problems. Not all the iodine contained in this seaweed is absorbed by the body, but this must be taken into account to avoid taking an excess of this substance. It is therefore important to refer to the label of the product you purchase and which always indicates the maximum weekly amount of wakame seaweed recommended (Cherry et al, Nutr Rev, 2019). In case of thyroid problems, always ask your doctor for advice before taking wakame seaweed. A consideration must then be added regarding the iodine taken through the diet. Algae, but also seafood or iodized salt provide stable iodine which is absorbed by the thyroid and supports its functionality, also helping to protect it from any exposure to radiation. This does not mean that to protect yourself from the risk of radiation it is sufficient to ingest large quantities of these foods, which would be very harmful. What we want to communicate is that a healthy, varied and balanced diet that also includes foods containing iodine represents an extra protection for the thyroid gland (Source Italian National Institute of Health).
Wakame seaweed, how you can take it
Wakame seaweed is generally found in dried form. The seaweed is then soaked in water for about ten minutes and then it can be used for various culinary preparations. It can be added for example to soups and broths but also to salads.