Sushi isn’t the only use for seaweed anymore. In fact, according to recent research, it can actually help boost your weight loss results and improve your overall health and wellness, too – particularly in agar form.
You see, agar is the product of several different species of seaweed. Sometimes known as agar-agar, it is popular in Japanese, Chinese and other Asian cultures. It is often used as a gelatin-substitute in many dishes and recipes.
Agar has been in use for centuries, mostly in Asian countries as a part of desserts, dishes, soups and sauces. It comes primarily from seaweed found in Japanese, Chinese and Sri Lankan waters. To the naked eye, agar is a jelly-like substance that is white and almost clear.
It is said to have a sweet flavor, though it contains no sugar and no calories. It’s often used in Asian desserts, as it adds great flavor without adding unwanted calories or fat.
Typically, agar comes in powder form, or it is found in flakes or kanten bars, which are created by freeze-drying and dehydrating seaweed fronds.
Agar and Weight Loss
Agar is extremely high in fiber, which makes it a great tool for use in weight loss regiments. This fiber helps clear out the digestive system and rid the body of harmful toxins. It also takes longer to digest, so it makes you feel fuller longer, and it staves off unwanted cravings that could cause you to overeat.
Because agar is extremely low in calories, it’s a great choice for eating while you’re trying to lose weight. It can even allow you to satisfy that sweet tooth, without actually eating sugar or any other caloric additive. With agar, you can prepare great healthy, sugar-free desserts that will keep your stomach happy and your waistline small.
Agar is also low in fat, with just .9 grams in every serving. It also comes with healthy carbs and proteins (which are crucial if you’re working out), and it offers great doses of calcium, potassium, iron and other vital minerals and vitamins.
It is also known as an appetite suppressant. When agar hits the stomach juices, or when it is consumed with water or other liquids, it becomes gelatinous, thus expanding and filing up the stomach. This gives you a feeling of fullness and suppresses your hunger pangs for many hours to come.
A recent study actually proved the link between agar and weight loss – particularly in obese people and those suffering from type 2 diabetes. The study found that participants who included agar in their diet saw significant weight loss – especially in comparison with the non-agar eating group. The study’s researchers believe these results were due to agar’s ability to boost metabolism and allow for reduced caloric intake.
Other Uses for Agar
Across the world, agar has had many different uses over the years. It’s been used to reduce inflammation, treat liver issues, alleviate asthma and respiratory problems and even treat hemorrhoids. It’s also a mild laxative, which makes it great for helping those with digestive issues or loose stools, and it is often used in suppositories.
It sounds strange, but agar is also used to make dental impressions, as it offers safe, natural substance that won’t hurt if swallowed or consumed. In cosmetics, agar is sometimes used in moisturizers, conditioners, lotions, lipsticks, soaps and more, as it is known to soften both the skin and hair when applied.
Preparing and Eating Agar
Preparing your agar for consumption depends on the form you’ve bought it in. If you’ve purchases agar flakes or powder, you’ll want to soften it in liquid and dissolve it into boiling water or broth. If you’ve purchased kanten bars, simply break them up into pieces, wash them and wring them out. Then, soak them in water for half an hour, strain and use in any recipe.
Once prepared, agar is commonly used in jellies, custards, puddings and fruity desserts. It is also a great way to sweeten dishes and sauces without adding a whole lot of calories to the meal.
You can also simply eat agar on its own, though if you do this, be sure to get plenty of water with it. Failing to get enough liquids can lead to blockages in your throat, esophagus and even bowels. This could lead to choking or internal damage.
As with anything, be sure to talk with your doctor before working agar into your diet. It is often not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and other health conditions may not be best-suited to it either. Your doctor will be able to ensure it’s safe and healthy for your specific health conditions before moving forward.
Have you ever tried agar before? If so share your thoughts with me in the comments.
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