A Guide to Wakame and How to Use It

A Guide to Wakame and How to Use It

Apr 11, 2023 Tags 

If you're a fan of sushi or another Japanese cuisine, you may have come across Wakame, a type of seaweed commonly used in many dishes. It’s easy to miss because it looks like any other healthy veggie but Wakame is more than that. It isn’t just a tasty addition to your meal - it's also incredibly nutritious and offers a wide range of health benefits.

In this article, we'll explore what Wakame is, why it's good for you, and how you can incorporate it into your diet.


What is Wakame?


Just like Nori, Wakame (ワカメ, わかめ) is one of Japan’s most popular edible seaweed. Its biological name is Undaria pinnatifida and it is a type of seaweed that's native to the waters around Japan, Korea, and China. History books prove that Wakame has been farmed in Japan since the Nara period (710 to 794) when Japanese society was mostly agricultural. It has a slightly sweet but strong flavor that pairs well with many different ingredients.


Wakame Vs Nori


Japanese seaweed types


Wakame and Nori are both seaweeds used in Japanese cuisine however they are different types of seaweed. Nori is usually dried as strips and used to wrap sushi. It is mostly eaten in its dried form for that crunchy feel. Read our full article on Nori. On the other hand, Wakame is like Japanese lettuce, while it is bought dried, it is usually soaked before use and enjoyed in fresh bits. 


How Nutritious is Wakame


An ounce of raw Wakame contains:

  • Omega-3 fats: 52 mg
  • Iodine: 1,176 mcg, 24% DV
  • Manganese: 0.4 mg, 20% DV
  • Folate: 55 mcg, 14% DV
  • Magnesium: 30 mg, 7% DV
  • Calcium: 42 mg, 4% DV
  • Copper: 0.1 mg, 4% DV
  • Riboflavin (B2): 0.1 mg, 4% DV
  • Iron: 0.6 mg, 3% DV


Wakame salad


Wakame is incredibly nutrient-dense and offers a wide range of health benefits. It has a high amount of protein, calcium, fiber, folate, and iron, all of which help to reduce the risk of heart disease and blood pressure as well as improve overall health. Here are some of the key reasons why you should consider adding Wakame to your diet:


Health benefits of Wakame


Wakame helps to Burn Fat


You have probably heard this a thousand times but Wakame fat burning skills are for real. A study at Hokkaido University found that it contains a compound called fucoxanthin which induces fat burning when ingested.


Rich in Vitamins and Minerals


Wakame is packed with vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health. It's particularly high in iodine, which is important for thyroid function and can be difficult to get enough of through diet alone. Wakame also contains significant amounts of calcium, magnesium, iron, and potassium, which are all important for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.


Supports Heart Health


Studies have shown that consuming Wakame may help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. One research involving 223 boys and 194 girls found that Wakame can reduce blood pressure in children and is a good way to stop hypertension if taken in the early stages of development.


Aids in Digestion


Wakame contains a type of dietary fiber called alginate, which can help to regulate digestion and promote feelings of fullness. This can be particularly beneficial for those who are trying to lose weight or manage their appetite.



May Help to Prevent Cancer


One of the most impressive benefits of Wakame is that it may help to prevent cancer. Some studies have suggested that Wakame may have anti-cancer properties, although more research is needed in this area for humans. One study using rats found that Wakame reduced the growth and spread of breast cancer cells. 

Overall, Wakame is a great snack to add to your diet and it is very versatile so you can make it a part of many dishes.


ZenPop Snack Box


How do you cook with Wakame?


Wakame salad with avocado


In Japan, many restaurants serve dishes with Wakame but you can make them yourself at home. Wakame is usually sold in the Asian markets but if you don't have any of those around you just check amazon or other popular e-commerce sites to order yours

If you're interested in trying Wakame, there are many ways to incorporate it into your diet. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Japanese Seaweed Salad: Wakame adds a nice crunch and flavor to salads, particularly when paired with fresh vegetables and a flavorful dressing. To make Wakame salad, you’ll need seasoning like soy sauce, mirin, sugar, sesame oil, sesame seeds, and garlic. Add other vegetables like cucumber and red pepper flakes. You can either stir fry all of these if you like salads with a little heat or mix the ingredients and toss it in the fridge if you prefer cold salads. 
  • Miso Soup: Wakame is a key ingredient in miso soup, which is a staple of Japanese cuisine. The seaweed is rehydrated in hot water and then added to the soup along with miso paste, tofu, and other ingredients. It is a nutritious boost for regular soups.
  • Sushi Rolls: Wakame can be used in sushi rolls, particularly those that are vegetarian or contain seafood. The seaweed is used to wrap around the sushi rice and fillings, giving the roll its signature flavor and texture.
  • Rice Bowls: A boring bowl of rice can be transformed with Wakame. We already know that Asians take their rice cuisine very seriously. The seaweed is often paired with other ingredients like pickled vegetables, grilled fish, and tamagoyaki (Japanese omelet) to give the rice a beautiful finish.


Rehydrating Wakame


Hydrating Wakame


When you buy Wakame it usually comes in its dried form. To rehydrate it, use the blanching method which involves briefly dipping it in boiling water and then draining it. This will make it green and ready to use for salads. Another thing you can do is soak it in ice-cold water for around 5 minutes then drain it. 

Wakame is a nutritious and delicious seaweed that offers a wide range of health benefits. Whether you're a fan of Japanese cuisine or just looking for a new way to boost your nutrient intake, Wakame is worth trying.

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This article was originally written by our freelance writer Umm-Kulthum Abdulkareem and edited by us.