What is Hijiki Seaweed?
We do not have a great tradition of eating seaweed in the West but by now, most of us are aware that most seaweed is very good for you. In other parts of the world, especially South East Asia, seaweed has been consumed for hundreds of years.
Hijiki is a type of seaweed that grows along the coastline in several Asian countries including the coast of Japan, Korea and China. It is also a staple part of the diet in many Asian countries and is used in various South east Asian dishes.
Known scientifically as Sargassum fusifome, this seaweed when cultivated has a twig like appearance similar to black tea.
Hijiki Seaweed Nutrition
It is very low in calories, fat free and low in carbohydrates. While hardly a nutritional powerhouse, it does contain high amounts of several minerals notably iron and calcium as well as being a good source of dietary fiber.
One half cup serving of hijiki seaweed contains just 5 calories, no fats whatsoever and no carbohydrates making it a great snack for people looking to lose some weight.
A serving of hijiki is an excellent source of calcium, iron and magnesium. In fact, hijiki seaweed contains more calcium per serving than milk and around 90% of your recommended daily intake of iron. Because of its high iron content, hijiki is regarded as an excellent choice for people with anemia or those needing a boost of energy. The calcium in hijiki is great for bone health and can protect against bone conditions like osteoporosis.
Hijiki is also a good source of dietary fiber which has a variety of health benefits including reduced cholesterol levels and protection against heart disease and cancer.
Health Benefits of Hijiki
In Japan, hijiki is renowned for its beautifying effects where it is used by women to help them achieve thick lustrous hair. But this is far from all it is good for. Read on to find out how this Asian seaweed can help benefit your health.
1) For Digestion
Fiber is good for your health. No doubt you have lost count of the times you have heard that but it does not mean that people are listening. According to most estimates, people do not get the requisite amount of fiber into their diets and this can result in various illnesses especially related to the digestive system.
Fiber benefits the body in many ways and hijiki seaweed can provide you with a good supply of the stuff. Getting more dietary fiber into your system can help smooth the digestive process in general. It can also help combat many of the common symptoms of poor digestive health including diarrhea, constipation, bloating and dyspepsia.
Fiber may also boost your health in various other ways. It can help you to reduce weight as part of a diet and reduce your levels of cholesterol which benefits your cardiovascular health. It may even protect against serious diseases like heart disease and cancer.
2) For Anemia and Energy Levels
When it comes to iron content, hijiki contains it in unusually high levels. In fact, this sea vegetable contains something like 5 times more iron than you would find in chicken liver. Because of this high iron content, hijiki is a great antidote for anemia and an excellent healthy way for people with an iron deficiency to boost their levels.
Iron plays a critical role in the production or red blood cells and they in turn help to increase oxygenation in the body. This can help ward of fatigue and give your body a significant boost of energy.
Hijiki is an especially good source of iron for vegetarians and vegans who are more prone to iron deficiency but it is also a very healthy source of iron for meat eaters. Unlike many other dietary sources of iron, hijiki does not contain cholesterol making it an excellent, healthy option.
3) For Healthy Bones and Teeth
Calcium is an essential mineral when it comes to bone development and growth in children. It is also essential for people as they age and our bones begin to weaken. Hijiki is very high in calcium and actually contains more of the mineral than milk.
It is a great option for children and older adults to protect against bone conditions like osteoporisis. It also contains anti-inflammatory plolysacharides which have anti-inflammatory properties and could prove useful against rheumatism and arthritis.
4) For Heart Health
Dietary fiber is probably best known for its ability to aid digestion and control your weight by satiating the appetite. It is probably less famous for its ability to eliminate excessive amounts of cholesterol from the bloodstream thus reducing overall cholesterol levels in the body.
Hijiki is an excellent source of healthy, dietary fiber meaning it can help keep your cholesterol levels low. High cholesterol is linked to an increased risk of serious cardiovascular illnesses including heart attack, stroke and atherosclerosis.
5) To Balance the Hormones
Iodine is not often mentioned when it comes to health and diet and in very high doses can prove dangerous. However, many people do not get enough iodine and in suitable levels, it plays an important role especially with regard to hormone balance and thyroid health.
If you are deficient in iodine, then this wonderful sea vegetable is a great way to increase your levels and improve your hormonal health.
6) To Improve your Sleep
Hijiki contains a good supply of magnesium which is regarded as an excellent aid to good sleep. If you are one of the many people who suffer from insomnia or simply poor quality sleep, an increase in your magnesium intake can make a big difference.
The magnesium found in hijiki helps to stimulate the production of hormones which help relieve stress and promote greater relaxation. Stress is one of the major causes of poor sleep so increasing your magnesium intake can improve your quality of sleep and let your body and mind prepare better for the waking day.
How to Get Hijiki into your Diet
Hijiki is especially popular as a household dish in Japanese homes and is less often prepared in restaurants. It can be eaten in many different ways either as a daytime snack or chopped up and mixed into salads, seafood dishes, soups and stir fries.
It is important that you clean and soak your dried hijiki before adding it to your cooking. Soak your seaweed for around 15 minutes and then discard the water before use.
A simple and popular way to eat hijiki is to mix it into any traditional meat or vegetable dish. It can be added to a host of dishes whether they are stir fried, boiled or marinated.
It can be used with rice and raw fish as an ingredient in sushi but because of its shape and texture, does not wrap well.
You could also grind down your hijiki into fine pieces and add them to your smoothie or juice recipes for an extra healthy kick.
If you eat a reasonable amount of hijiki, then it is probably perfectly safe but there are some precautions that you need to be aware of.
Hijiki contains inorganic arsenic which is regarded as a toxic and potentially carcinogenic substance. However, you would have to consume an enormous amount of hijiki to accumulate a dangerous level of this inorganic arsenic in your body.
Some countries issue warnings regarding the potential dangers of hijiki but up to now, no countries have decided to ban it from sale.