Wakame: Properties of the Wakame seaweed

So is Wakame

The Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is an edible seaweed, which together with Laminaria (Laminaria japonica) represents a food resource of primary importance for the global economy, especially for the nations of East Asia and Southeast Asia.

In Japan, wakame seaweed has been a very important nutritional source since 700 BC, and for several years it has been the object of specific crops.

The "wakame seaweed" is a brown seaweed that grows up to about 7 meters deep, populating the rocky bottoms of the bays and sub-shores that bathe the temperate regions of Japan, Korea and China. It prefers temperatures between 5 and 18 ° C, stopping growing when the water temperature exceeds 25 ° C. Recently, the wakame seaweed has spread, probably carried by the ballast waters of boats, even in France. New Zealand and Australia.

Nutritional properties

Among the various species of brown algae used for direct and indirect food purposes, Wakame represents the richest source of protein, with an average content of 16.3 grams per hectogram of product.

The amino acid profile and protein quality indices are also good: wakame contains all essential amino acids, which contribute 47.1% to the total protein content. The limiting amino acid is tryptophan, making wakame a complementary protein source to traditional plant protein sources, such as legumes and grains.

The following tables summarize the average content of minerals, vitamins and fibers of wakame seaweed and kombu seaweed. Alternatively, you can consult the widespread source of the US Department of Agriculture.

Vitamin content of wakame seaweed (U. pinnati fi da) and Kombu seaweed (L. japonica), expressed in mg per 100 grams of dried product Vitamin Kombu Wakame DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) * β-Carotene 2.99±0.09 1.30±0.12 - Retinol equivalents 0.481±0.015 0.217±0.006 0.65 (7.5 mg of B-carotene) Vitamin B1 0.24±0.02 0.30±0.04 1.0 Vitamin B2 0.85±0.08 1.35±0.09 1.1 Vitamin B6 0.09±0.01 0.18±0.02 1.4 Niacin 1.58±0.14 2.56±0.11 12

Dietary fiber content of wakame seaweed (U. pinnati fi da) and Kombu seaweed (L. japonica), expressed as a percentage of dry weight Fiber Kombu Wakame Soluble 32.6 30 Insoluble 4.7 5.3 Total 37.3 35.3

Mineral content of wakame seaweed (U. pinnati fi da) and Kombu seaweed (L. japonica), expressed in mg per 100 grams of dried product Mineral Kombu Wakame DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) * Football 880±20 950±30 800 Magnesium 550±15 405±10 350 Phosphorus 300 ±10 450±12 580 Iodine 170 ±5.5 26±2.4 0,095 Sodium 2532±120 6494±254 1500 Potassium 5951±305 5691±215 4700 Nickel 0.325±0.020 0.265±0.015 - Chrome 0.227±0.073 0.072±0.026 0.035 Selenium 0.05 0.05 0.055 Iron 1.19±0.03 1.54±0.07 150 Zinc 0.886±0.330 0.944±0.038 11 Magnesium 0.294±0.017 0.332±0.039 420 Copper 0.247±0.076 0.185±0.016 0.9 Lead 0.087±0.021 0.079±0.015 - Cadmium 0.017±0.007 0.028±0.00 - Mercury 0.054 ± 0.005 0.022 ± 0.003 - Arsenic 0.087 ± 0.006 0.055 ± 0.008 -

* DRI (Dietary Reference Intakes) * quantity of nutrients - expressed in mg - sufficient to satisfy the daily nutritional needs of most (97-98%) of individuals belonging to a specific group, in this case adult males aged between 30 and 35 years.

Benefits and properties

While in the countries of origin it is usually consumed as a food, its excellent nutritional profile means that in the West the Wakame seaweed is marketed above all as a food supplement.

For the Vegan Diet

The excellent protein content and the good quality of the proteins make it the subject of an advertising promotion that portrays it as the ideal complement to the vegetarian diet in its various forms and to the macrobiotic one. Basically, wakame seaweed can be considered a tonic, a useful aid to meet the needs of various nutrients in case of dietary insufficiency or increased need. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, weakness, fragility of nails and hair, fatigue and reduced concentration, are the classic indications of supplements based on wakame seaweed.

For Weight Loss Diets

The commercial push for the consumption of Wakame seaweed derives also and above all from the alleged slimming properties, with stimulation on energy expenditure.

Iodine and Selenium

The physiological basis of these characteristics must be sought above all in the "excellent content of iodine and selenium, two essential minerals for the correct functionality of the thyroid, which with its hormones directly influences the body's metabolism.


Secondly, like other Brown algae, "wakame is a known source of fucoxanthin, a carotenoid that appears to activate the UCP1 decoupling protein. This protein - particularly expressed in brown fat - promotes the" oxidation of fats to generate heat, " burning them "and preventing them from depositing as a fat reserve.

This effect, now well demonstrated on laboratory mice, is awaiting clinical confirmation in humans: however, it is believed that the bioavailability and absorption of fucoxanthin contained in the wakame seaweed are rather modest.

Soluble fibers

Due to its richness in soluble fibers (alginates), wakame seaweed can also promote weight loss through the satiating effect given by the swelling of these colloidal fibers in contact with the water inside the stomach. The distension of the gastric walls is in fact one of the signals that favor the onset of the sense of satiety, removing hunger pangs. Always at the gastric level, alginates help to form a sort of protective film on the stomach walls, protecting them from the insult. acid from gastric juices; not surprisingly, alginates are used in problems of gastric acidity and gastroesophageal reflux.

Probably these characteristics also explain the results of a recent study, according to which the daily consumption of 4/6 grams of seaweed, typical of most Japanese, can be associated with a low incidence of metabolic syndrome. These benefits would be amplified by the generous presence of marine fish in the diet, which is also typical of Japanese cuisine.

Tofu with Wakame Seaweed

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Recommended intake doses

The recommended intake doses are generally between two and four grams of dried wakame seaweed per day. Naturally, such low contributions considerably reduce the actual amount of beneficial nutrients taken through the integration of Wakame, making only the iodine intake significant.

Iodine and Side Effects

Wakame seaweed as an iodine supplement

Among the most significant and characteristic nutrients of aga wakame, iodine stands out. The recommended daily intake of this mineral is 90-150 mcg, a quantity that - given to hand - is covered by the simple ingestion of 557 mg (0.557 grams) of dried wakame seaweed.

The maximum dose of iodine that presumably does no harm in a healthy individual is 1100 mcg per day, a threshold that would be exceeded by the consumption of wakame seaweed in doses greater than 4.23 grams.

Therefore, it is recommended not to exceed the recommended doses and to consult your doctor before taking supplements based on Wakame seaweed, especially in case of thyroid disease or dysfunction.

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