Can you eat agar? (3 benefits)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question Can you eat agar? We will discuss the health benefits and risks of eating agar-agar. We will also discuss some popular uses of agar-agar and some reasons for it to be a favorite choice. 

Can you eat agar?

You can eat agar-agar safely, only if you drink adequate water. Agar-agar is a vegan alternative to gelatin used as a thickening agent in foods. Gelatin, agar-agar, and guar have a similar function to thicken foods. Gelatin is animal-based, used to thicken fruit desserts, candy, jellies, and puddings.

Agar-agar supersedes gelatin because it has a higher melting point. Agar-agar is versatile because it is tasteless, colorless, and can be used as a culinary agent.

What is agar-agar?

Agar-agar is obtained from algae and is suitable for vegetarians. In Asian countries, it is called China grass. Agar-agar is more stable than regular gelatin. It gives a smooth and clear look. Besides imparting a gelatinous texture, it is also used for its exquisite properties as a supplement for digestive aid, regulate blood sugar, and strengthen bones.

What are the health benefits of agar-agar?

Agar-agar is high in fiber. Fiber relieves constipation, regulates high blood sugar, and lowers cholesterol. 

Some benefits of agar-agar are as below:

1.Digestion and weight-management

Fiber is a crucial part of a diet that adds bulk to bowels enable them to evacuate smoothly. Agar-agar works as a natural laxative. When a person takes adequate fiber, it supports bowel regularity and helps ease constipation.

Fiber lowers cholesterol and keeps your lipid profile in check. It gives a person the feeling of fullness which promotes satiety and prevents frequent hunger. 

Agar-agar is an ideal supplement to fulfil your fiber needs and help to meet your weight-loss goals.

2.Strengthens bones

Agar-agar is a good source of calcium supplement, which strengthens and protects your bones and teeth. 

Inadequate calcium in the diet causes health conditions like osteopenia and osteoporosis. A loss in bone density is related to an increased risk of fractures.

Agar-agar also has a micronutrient called manganese. Alongside calcium, magnesium is important for bone health. Manganese strengthens bones by encouraging bone formation; a deficiency can cause alteration of bone metabolism and decrease bone density. 

3.Prevents anemia

Anemia is a condition where the body doesn’t have red blood cells and causes a person to have fatigue, shortness of breath, and cognitive decline. 

Iron is a crucial element to prevent the condition. To keep iron deficiency at bay; agar-agar supplements can play their part. An ounce of agar-agar provides 33 percent of the day’s requirement of iron. However, make sure that you take enough adequate iron and vitamin C in the diet to fight anemia. 

How to use agar-agar?

You can buy agar-agar powder, flakes, or bar and use it as a thickener as a vegan substitute. The correct way to consume agar-agar is to use it as a thickener. To use agar-agar flakes, you will need to ground them in a grinder while the agar-agar bars are broken and ground up before mixing with water.

To prepare agar-agar, follow the steps below:

  1. Mix gelatin and water in the same ratio. For every cup of agar-agar you make, you need;

i)  one teaspoon of agar powder, 

ii) one tablespoon of agar flakes,

iii) half of an agar bar

2.To mix the agar-agar, you need to whisk it to avoid clumping.

3.Put the mixture on a stove and let it boil. Simmer to five to ten minutes while stirring to dissolve the agar-agar.

4.Pour the agar-agar mixture into a bowl and let it sit at room temperature.

Are there risks associated with agar-agar?

Generally, it is safe to consume agar-agar with a risk of digestive obstruction if you do not consume sufficient water. 

When you mix agar-agar with water, it undergoes the gelatinization process. The molecules of agar-agar take up water and swell. To let agar-agar pass through smoothly, you need to drink enough water.

Agar-agar can obstruct the bowel and esophagus. If that happens, it leads to swallowing difficulties and bowel impedance. If you suffer from obstructed bowels, otherwise known as dysphagia, do not take agar-agar without consulting your doctor. 

A few other risks are also correlated to eating agar-agar as a supplement. Some unsubstantial research points toward colon tumors linked to consuming agar-agar. The fiber in agar-agar has an impact on tumor growth. Even though the research is not sound, be wary if you have a family history of colon cancer. Consult your health practitioner before you use the supplement or avoid it altogether. 

In this brief guide, we answered the question Can you eat agar? We discussed the health benefits and risks of eating agar-agar. We also discussed some popular uses of agar-agar and some reasons for it to be a favorite choice. 

Citations

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/agar/vitamins-supplements.htm

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.