Nutritional Aspects of Wakame: Polysaccharides
Wakame consists mainly of carbohydrates, protein, minerals, lipids and vitamins. Compared to other foods, the outstanding characteristic of Wakame is its extreme abundance of vitamins and minerals.
Composition of Dried Wakame(100g)
|Source: Japan National Institute of Resources,
The Science and Technology Agency,
Standard Tables of Food Composition in Japan, 1983.
|Carbohydrates||38.0g (Fiber 2.7g )|
|Ash||30.8g (Minerals 12.9g)|
Some sea creatures eat Wakame for food, and of course their digestive tracts contain the enzymes necessary to digest the polysaccharides contained in Wakame. The human digestive tract, however, contains no such enzymes, so consequently the polysaccharides contained in Wakame are not digested. This means that Wakame contains few consumable calories. On the other hand, these polysaccharides exhibit excellent water absorption and expansion characteristics, so that one feels full when even small quantities are eaten. This makes Wakame an excellent food for people who want to lower their consumption of calories. Additionally, the high vitamin and mineral contents of Wakame are beneficial to dieters by helping prevent vitamin and mineral deficiency, which sometimes occurs during dieting.
Polysaccharides, the main component in Wakame, absorb salt which is present in the intestine and eliminate it from the system, a salt elimination effect which is unique to sea vegetables. Alginic acid, a component of polysaccharides, is combined with either potassium, sodium, calcium or magnesium when ingested. Each of these minerals is released by gastric acids, allowing the free alginic acid to enter the intestine, where it combines with sodium from the food to produce sodium alginate-the form in which it is eliminated from the system. As a result, hypertension caused by excessive sodium consumption can be alleviated by eating Wakame.
In addition, it has been reported that alginic acid also helps eliminate harmful heavy metals such as strontium, cadmium, etc., which are ingested due to environmental pollution.