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wakame: many nutritional benefits

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Wakame whose Latin name is Undaria pinnatifida is seaweed that is popular among Korean cultures and is often used in salads and soups. When cooked, it offers a sweet taste and is derived from areas such as Korea and Japan. Although long eaten by those cultures, it wasn’t until the mid 1960’s that the United States began to request the seaweed be sent via dried form. Since that time it has become quite popular and is given accruements for its nutritional value and low caloric content.

Nutritional Value

Wakame affords those that dine on it many nutritional benefits. It is packed full of eicosapentaenoic acid, which is the same thing as the fatty acids found in omega 3’s (also very good for the body) as well as having the daily recommended doses of calcium, iodine, thiamine and niacin.

Because of the increased amount of iodine and calcium pregnant and nursing mothers are often recommended high amounts of wakame because it is healthy not only for the mother, but the fetus and later, the infant.

When prepared wakame is often served in soups or in salads; traditionally, the leaves are broken apart into small portions and boiled. Later such condiments like soy sauce, teriyaki sauce or rice vinegar are added as dressings to enhance the subtly sweet flavor and texture. It is also a staple ingredient in Miso soups in the Japanese cultures.

Wakame can also be served dried and is often seasoned with salt, pepper or other herbs  and flavor.

In taste and texture wakame is often compared to spinach because of its leafy and deep green appearance and although similar, though greasier or more slippery than regular spinach.

Wakame is best prepared by tearing apart the leaves and chopping them into smaller counterparts so that when they're soaked in water the leaves expand to as much as ten times their original size. Its recommended that Wakame be soaked in room temperature water for a minimum of 30 minutes before cooking or being served. Once soaked, chopping off the stem which can later be tossed away or used as stock if you are making a soup, and then can be boiled for a few minutes to desired tenderness.

When served cold or dry it is best to add some type of seasoning of your choice to add flavor, though some prefer it without.

Amazing Wakame Salad

Ingredients Needed:

Wakame, 1 small avocado, 1/3 cup of walnuts, baby arugula, ½ teaspoon virgin olive oil, ½ fresh lemon salt, pepper

Preparation: Let wakame soak in rice vinegar for 30 minutes. Place a bed of baby arugula on a plate. In a bowl place wakame leaves, oil, lemon together and mix well. Place the wakame in the center of the arugula and add salt and pepper to taste. Slice the avocado and place on the side of the plate. You can also drizzle the avacado with the remaining oil, lemon mixture. Sprinkle the walnuts on top.

In addition to its nutritional value there are many other benefits that can be gained from wakame. The ancient Chinese cultures used wakame as a natural remedy to purify the blood, as well as heal intestinal wounds and dysfunctions.

Wakame and Weight Loss

Many studies have shown that wakame is associated with weight loss for several reasons. The first is that it is a green, leafy vegetable which has a low calorie count. More importantly though, it contains large amounts of the compound fucoxanthin which naturally helps the body burn excess fatty tissue while at the same time increasing the production of the fat-burning protein UCP1.

Wakame and Skin Care

If the above info wasn't enough reason to put some wakame in your diet, perhaps the skin care benefits will help with the convincing. Japanese women historically have had beautiful, almost translucent skin and though much of it may be genetics, as it turns out, they may also be reaping additional benefits from their diets which include large amounts of wakame.

Because seaweed has an enormous amount of anti-bacterial properties, wakame is excellent for acne as it will draw out the impurities within the skin while at the same time regulating the oils that cause acne outbreaks. By applying wakame leaves directly to the skin, the antibacterial properties delve deep within the pores to draw out the impurities, while the exterior feeds on the vitamins and nutrients.

The antioxidants within wakame assist in cell regeneration and can offer anti-aging benefits. Many beauty masks and treatments are sold with wakame or other seaweeds such as red seaweed and work great for those who suffer from acne, skin discoloration and dry patches.

The amino acids and enzymes have been proven effect at increasing the skin’s elasticity and regenerating tissues.

Safety Concerns

There are no known safety concerns to using or eating wakame; however, it probably shouldn't be eaten more than four times a week because it can cause loose bowels for some and as with any sea vegetable small traces of arsenic and other minerals (which are normally not harmful) should be eaten in the proper dose in case your system is sensitive to extended amounts of these minerals.

If you're interested in learning more about Japanese food a good place to start can be with Japanese Food Gifts
Asian Food Grocer offers great variety in Asian foods and food-related items, including utensils, cookware, recipes, snacks, candy, and much more. Certainly worth checking out.

 

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