Paleo Diet

The What’s What on Wakame

We might get tired of some of the greens we eat day in and day out, so it never hurts to keep things varied! When you’ve had your fill of kale, spinach, and sprouts, you can turn your attention to the sea, where you are sure to find a variety of tasty greens, including wakame.

Those who adore Japanese cuisine are no stranger to wakame. Technically a vegetable, wakame is a seaweed used in dishes like miso soup. 

This article will explore the finer points of wakame, including nutritional content, health benefits, and where to shop for it. To conclude, we’ll provide tips on how to incorporate wakame into your diet.

What is wakame, anyway?

Wakame is a seaweed, scientifically known as Undaria pinnatifida. It goes by some other names, too. In English, it is sometimes called sea mustard. In China, it is known as qúndài cài 裙带菜. The French refer to it as wakamé or fougère des mers. The Japanese staple is popular in Korea where it is called miyeok (미역).

This vegetable may remind some foodies of nori, the seaweed used to make sushi. Wakame, however, is different. 

Because it is a plant, wakame easily suits vegetarian, vegan, and paleo diets. This delicious plant caters to sweet and salty pallets. Its texture is often described as “smooth” or “silky.”

Nutritional content

According to the United States Department or Agriculture (USDA), a single serving of wakame is 10 grams (equivalent to 1/8 cup or two tablespoons).

In this serving, you will find the following: 4.5 calories, less than one gram of fat, 87 mg of sodium, .9g carbohydrates, .03 grams protein, and less than one gram of sugar and less than one gram of fiber.

Wakame stacks up well in other ways. A single serving is low in fat.  Although a serving is low in protein, a full cup (200 grams) provides 6 grams of protein. In other words, if you consume more, you can take advantage of the sea vegetable’s protein benefits.

It is a source of iodine, too. A single serving offers three times the recommended intake for an adult.

As far as vitamins go, a serving of this sea vegetable offers 5% of the recommended daily dose of folate as well as minerals like calcium, manganese, and magnesium. Small amounts of vitamins A, C, E, and K are found in wakame as well. 

How are the carbs?

Wakame is very low carb. Within a serving, there is less than one gram of carbs. If you were to have one full cup (200-grams) of wakame, you would be looking at 18 grams of carbs. The carbs that are there come from starch (like oats and potatoes).

The health benefits of wakame  

We’re glad you asked! 

Research on the benefits of wakame is still underdeveloped, but some promising signs point in a positive direction. A diet rich in iodine is sometimes attributed to the longer lifespans of Japanese people. If the seaweed is boiled, you will consume less iodine when eating it.

Wakame also contains fucoxanthin, a carotenoid that is believed to provide antioxidant benefits that help prevent obesity, heart disease, cancer, and more. 

Other noted benefits include lowering blood pressure and increasing insulin resistance.

Where can I buy this stuff?

If you’re sold on trying wakame, you have to find out where to procure the delicacy. 

You may be able to find it in a variety of places, including your local grocery stores if they have expansive natural food and international food assortments. You might also try searching online vendors for the product. Many specialty Asian grocers will carry this item as it popular in both Japanese and Korean cuisines.

In some cases, the wakame comes dry. It is recommended to soak it in water for five minutes before consuming in this case. Just squeeze out the water after you soak it. If you can find it wet, it is most likely ready to go!

Be creative!

One of the obstacles that holds back many would-be wakame consumers is not knowing how to incorporate it into the ol’ repertoire of recipes. Throw it in your favorite soups, especially miso soup! You can also add it to other dishes like seaweed salads. Yum! 

At the end of the day, vegetable fanatics are always looking to spice things up with some new flavors, textures, and colors.  Why not do just that and add wakame to the weekly grocery list?

If you like this article, check out these others:

What are Brassicas?

How to Choose the Best Fish to Eat

Can You Microwave a Sweet Potato?

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