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Diet and Weight Loss Benefits of Agar, a Healthy Asian Food

Updated on September 28, 2012
Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Parfait with Agar-Agar
Blueberry Lime Cheesecake Parfait with Agar-Agar | Source
Ang Ku Kweh Agar-Agar
Ang Ku Kweh Agar-Agar | Source

Called agar-agar in Southeast Asian countries, chai yen in southern China, and kanten in Japan, agar is a popular Asian food for diet and weight loss.

This all-natural diet supplement that can suppress appetite has zero sugar, gluten, milk, egg, preservatives, and starch.

It comes in its signature clear and semi-translucent color and in powder, flakes, and dried strips forms.

How Agar can Help with Weight Loss

Used for many generations in traditional Asian cuisine and recently in Asian-style diets for losing weight, agar is made from 100% seaweeds.

Thus, it is high in fiber and has been used by vegetarians as a vegetable-based substitute for gelatins.

In Japan, for instance, agar is the main ingredient in the popular “kanten plan” that is a diet that highlights agar as its main food.

It has also been tapped by many Asian people who want to treat diabetes and constipation.

It has also been widely used by Asians as a natural laxative.

This is because agar is made mostly of gel-like substances that stimulate bowel movement and clean up the intestines.

This same effect of the high-fiber, mineral-rich agar makes it ideal for people who want to shed excess pounds and keep obesity at bay.

Basically, agar helps make people feel full quickly, making them stop eating before they normally would.

While the weight loss benefits of agar have been scientifically proven to be true in only a few scientific studies, many Asians already use this natural food in their efforts to stay slender and healthy.

Why Asians Love Agar for Dieting and Losing Pounds

  • Agar facilitates weight loss the natural way.
  • Agar has been shown to help people suffering from diabetes and constipation.
  • Agar has been shown to manage blood-sugar levels and drive down bad cholesterol.
  • Agar has low fats and calories.
  • Agar has no foul smell or taste.
  • Agar is a healthy vegetarian substitute to gelatin.
  • Agar is a versatile food ingredient. It can be cooked and mixed with drinks and foods without affecting their original taste. It also adds interesting texture to foods.
  • Agar suppresses appetite the natural way.

Nutritional Benefits of Agar

A cholesterol-free food made up of 80% fiber, agar contains minerals.

A one-ounce serving of agar in any of its forms has 177 mg of calcium, 318 mg of potassium, and 29 mg of sodium.

It has 1.7 grams of protein.

It also has 87 calories, 0.9 grams of fat, and 23 grams of carbohydrates.

Consumption of agar also aids the body in the absorption of other minerals, as well as proteins and fats.

How Asians Use Agar in their Diet

Agar is used in many Asian foods like desserts, soups, beverages, and even main dishes.

For weight loss, however, agar is eaten together with healthy and non-fat foods like fruits and low-calorie drinks like teas, coffee, and juice.

It can be eaten two ways.

  • First, boil a cup of water and mix about one-half teaspoon or one gram of agar powder.

Add in coffee, milk, or tea.

Mix the liquid thoroughly and quickly as the powder may form into a gel if left for an hour or so.

Enjoy your drink!

  • Second, cut dried agar strips into small-sized bites.

Mix the cubes with salads.

Because agar is made from seaweeds and is therefore water-based, it can give the feeling of being full for only a few hours.

Eventually, hunger would set in.

When this happens, it is wise to maintain discipline and not to binge on junk foods or foods full of fats.

Eat only healthy foods or low-fat foods like agar.

  • Agar can also be used in other heavenly foods that need thickening agents.

It can be used to make soups thicker, ice creams creamier, as well as puddings and custards more bonded.

When used with high-calorie foods, agar plays the role of a thickener and not an ingredient for dieting.

Copyright © 2012 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

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    • Marla Rose profile image

      Marla Rose 6 years ago from Aventura, Florida

      I never knew that agar was good for weight control! It is very interesting to know what is beneficial to our diet and will help us stay healthy! Great information to know.

    • profile image

      mackyi 6 years ago

      Thanks for sharing yet another interesting piece of information with me my fellow hubber! I am just curious as to what the FDA/NCCAM has to say about the benefits of "Agar". You and I know that although a lot of natural herbs/food have shown promising result,these Agencies still have a lot of stipulations about these products!

    • lady rain profile image

      lady rain 6 years ago from Australia

      You just made me drool looking at the pictures. I love agar and jelly deserts, they are most delicious.