A large part of the population is looking for ways to incorporate healthier foods into their diets. When it comes to healthy living, finding the benefits of natural ingredients is key.
One of the ingredients that has long been used as a thickening agent in cooking is agar. Agar is derived from different kinds of seaweed and has a consistency similar to gel. Thanks to its natural base, agar has many natural health benefits.
Low Calorie Cooking Ingredient
One health benefit of agar is that it is low calorie. One teaspoon of agar is thought to contain approximately 21 calories. This means that it can easily be implemented into foods, sauces and gravies as a thickening agent without adding a huge number of calories to the dish. That is a big plus for anyone trying to watch their weight.
Carbohydrates and Protein
Since agar is a plant derivative, it is a good addition for vegan diets and can be implemented into many sweet and savory dishes easily. While agar doesn’t have a large amount of protein and carbohydrates, it is fat free and contains approximately 5 grams of carbohydrates with .5 grams being fiber and less than a gram of protein in a one tablespoon measurement.
In a dried format agar does contain mnay vitamins and minerals. Some of these include iron, zinc, magnesium, folate, potassium and calcium. This can help individuals with a vegetarian diet to meet the necessary nutritional needs on a daily basis. Since it can be easily added to many foods it can be integrated into a meal plan where applicable.
One of the advantages of agar is that it absorbs glucose that resides in the stomach and quickly moves through the digestive system not allowing the body to hold onto and store extra fat that it doesn’t need. Agar absorbs bile in the body and therefore dissolves more cholesterol.
Side Effects of Agar
As with anything there are some potential side effects that come along with agar. Some of the possible side effects include a decrease in the absorption of some minerals, vitamins and nutrients particularly copper, chromium, cobalt, iron, zinc and calcium. It could also cause some obstructions in the esophagus or bowel due to its consistency and gel-like quality as it is moistened.
There could be interactions that you may want to be ware of as well. This is particularly important if you are taking medications. It’s important to avoid electrolyte solutions as well as alcohol products and those with tannic acid in them. Discuss other possible interactions with your physician or pharmacist before you start using agar.
Seek medical attention immediately if you start to experience abdominal pain, a tightness or pain in your chest, choking or difficulty swallowing, difficulty breathing or you experience vomiting.
How to Use Agar
There are many ways that agar can be added to your daily routine. Agar comes in several forms such as powder, strips and flakes. Adding these to salads, soups, stews and drinks is a good way to implement them into your diet.
You can also add them to your routine by using a green powder drink formula that uses agar as one of their superfood ingredients. Many people would rather the convenience of getting all their superfoods in one serving of these drinks as opposed to the daunting challenge of eating them on a day-to-day basis.
A great way to use agar is by creating a gelatin like dish and add fruits to it. Since agar is virtually tasteless and odor free, you can use it with many flavors that you love. Simply add these flavors to the recipe and enjoy.
Agar is an excellent way to add a little something to your regular diet. You can use it in many recipes and it is easy to find. A great way to get the most out of your agar is by adding it in a fun way in soups, stews and even desserts.