Agar agar also known as agar-agar, Agarose gel, Gelosa, Agar-weed, Agaropectin, Chinese Gelatin, Kanten, Seaweed Gelatin or Vegetable Gelatin. Agar agar is a plant or a seaweed specifically, which is used to make medicines and added in desserts too. It is a jelly like substance obtained from algae. Agar is obtained by boiling as a result of mixing of two components; linear polysaccharide agarose and a heterogenous mixture of small molecules called agaropectin.
Agar agar is called Kanten in Japan and thats where is it prominent. It has been widely used in Asia and even far away countries. It is an active ingredient in desserts, as a vegetarian option for gelatin, thickener in soups, as fruit preservative, in ice creams, clarifying agent in brewing and sizing paper and fabrics. In chemical terms Agar is a polymer made up of sub units of the sugar called galactose. Know nutrition, health benefits and uses of Agar Agar.
Nutrition in agar agar:
– Agar agar is a good source of calcium, iron and rich in healthy fiber contents.
– The best part because of which it is widely used in foods specially desserts is; it is free from fats, carbohydrates or sugars. Therefore it does not add more calories at all. This has been the reason for its use in weight loss
– Agar agar provides a small amount of essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, zinc, potassium, manganese and folate.
– It also it aids digestion, which is in addition to the above benefits. So as a laxative it has been used in medicines too because it carries toxic waste from our body.
Some Popular Uses of Agar Agar:
1- Agar agar has been used for weight loss and treating obesity:
Agar contains a gel like substance that bulks up in our gut. This stimulates our intestine and aids bowel movements. So it is used in weight loss. As bulking effect will stop undue indulgence into junk foods. This makes people stay fuller for long. Japanese medicine industry has been using Agar agar for 12 weeks to weight loss methods. As consuming a substance slim kanten from agar agar is believed to reduce body weight and body mass index of obese people.
2- Agar agar has been used for treating type 2 diabetes:
Agar agar or its product slim kanten may have benefits in improving blood sugar levels. It is not scientifically proved but it is believed to cure insulin resistance. Agar agar also absorbs glucose from the stomach and passes through the digestive system quickly. Read more about diabetes mellitus here
3- Agar agar in treating infant jaundice:
It may not be scientifically established, but agar agar has been a traditional medicine for treating infant jaundice. As it reduces bilirubin levels in infants by absorbing bile. Also, it is accepted to be given as an additive to light therapy for treating infant jaundice. Where agar agar increases bilirubin lowering effects of light therapy and thus reduces the time required by light therapy to cure the jaundice.
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4- Agar agar is used as a laxative and treating constipation:
Agar agar contains a gel like substance which bulks up in our gut. This stimulates our intestines and helps in aiding bowel movement. It also releases toxins off our system. Thus, it acts as an effective natural laxative.
5- Agar agar is used to make dental impressions:
Agar agar is a soft gelatinous substance which offers safe and natural cure for dental impressions. Even if consumed or swallowed it would not cause any harm, so it is used in dental procedures.
6- Agar agar is also believed to be of use in severe ailments:
Some ailments also have been benefitted and cured traditionally by agar agar. Treating hemorrhoids, respiratory disorders, asthma, liver issues, reducing inflammation and other fatal diseases.
7- Agar agar for treating hypercholesterolemia:
Agar agar significantly reduces the high levels of cholesterol in our blood. It may not have scientific backing but its impact on HDL is believed to be immense. It absorbs bile and by doing so it takes off extra cholesterol too by dissolving them. Read more about hypercholesterolemia here
8- Agar agar supports bone and joint mobility:
As it is a gelatinous substance it helps in bringing traction into joints and improves joint recovery after injuries.
9- Agar agar is rich in amino acids:
As agar agar is rich in amino acids it helps in reducing inflammation, promotes better sleep, soothes anxiety and stress and also prevents bleeding; internally and externally.
The above compilation on 9 Health benefits and uses of agar agar powder, is based on the readings and learnings over time. As a vegetarian gelatin option, we have loved using it in desserts and thats when the search for its health benefits and uses began. Agar agar has no sugar, no fat, no calories, no carbohydrates and it is rich in fiber. Also for specific allergies in people it is a blessing as it is free from starch, soy, gluten, yeast, milk, corn, eggs and preservatives. Which means it is a relatively safe product for our foods.
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