The Wonders of Wakame
One of the more well known types of edible seaweed is wakame. As with many superfoods, wakame became known to North Americans through a food fad. Remember the macrobiotic movement? The one that touted the benefits of eating with a focus on the ying and yang elements of food and cookwear in the 1960s? Yep, that’s the one.
But like with most fads, there is often some good that comes out of it. Like with other sea greens, wakame contains high levels of calcium, iodine, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Studies have shown that it, like other brown seaweeds, also contains fucoxanthin. This compound can help burn fatty tissue. A study conducted at Japan’s Hokkaido University shows that fucoanthin is stored in fat cells and can increase expenditure of energy likely through thermogenesis, which is the creation of heat (heat requires calories = more calorie burning).
There is also some evidence eating seaweed regularly can lower the risk of breast cancer.
If you’d like to read more, check out this article.
Wakame is native to coastal Japan, China, Russia, and Korea. It is also found in our Pacific waters, but is considered to be an invasive species so eating it is a very good thing as it “harms native kelp, mucks up marinas and the undersides of boats and damages mariculture like oyster farming,” according to Malia Wollan in this fascinating New York Times story.
As far as taste, the fronds of wakame have a slight sweet flavour -- you might know the sea green if you drink miso soup. It is also quite mild in taste – a great intro seaweed for those who are a little wary of venturing down the ocean green path.
Wakame must be hydrated before eating otherwise it is scratchy. Soak the strips for 10 minutes in water (wakame will expand seven times its original size!) and eat raw as a snack. Also consider adding it to stir fries and soups. Wakame flakes are also available from some health food stores and make a great addition to any salad.
In keeping with SeaLuxe’s smoothie theme, we have been experimenting with seaweed shakes so check back here tomorrow for our latest creation!