The healthful seaweed agar is used as a gelatin to enhance the flavors of other foods; it has remarkable medicinal properties. If taken as a supplement, it aids weight-reduction as agar’s indigestible fiber absorbs and retains water resulting in a feeling of fullness. This remarkable fiber also soothes the digestive tract and so is medicinal for IBS, Crohn’s disease, colitis and other inflammatory conditions. As with all seaweeds, agar is acclaimed for it’s ability to dispel from the body toxic and radioactive pollutants. Agar is an excellent invalid and infant food as it is light, nourishing and easy to digest.
One ounce of agar contains 86 calories. Two tablespoons of powdered agar provide two percent of the daily need of folate, magnesium and manganese. As a kitchen remedy to soothe inflamed bronchia or for a non-productive cough, make the accompanying “Jell-O” recipe with only the fruit and juice of apples and/or pears.
You may remember agar from school days as the growth medium found in petri dishes. White and semi-translucent, it is processed from several varieties of red marine algae known as agarophytes (agar-yielding). These algae grow as deep as 200 feet in stunning purplish-red fronds. Their color pigments enable them to absorb what little light penetrates their deeply dark wet and mineral-dense environment.
Use agar to gel fruit deserts and aspics as well as to thicken soups and jellies. Or simply stir in a ½ teaspoonful of powdered agar into a glass of fruit or vegetable juice. As it requires heat to gel, adding it to a cold beverage will go unnoticed (no need to tell the kids they’re eating seaweed) and it will slow down the absorption of simple sugars thus helping regulate blood sugar as well as boosting nutrition and flavor. Plus, the juice will now be more filling.
Caution If you use dry agar powder, granules or capsules as a weight reduction aid, stir into (or swallow) with adequate fluid. Should agar become stuck in your throat or esophagus, it can swell rapidly and may cause choking. Do not take as a dry supplement if you have trouble swallowing.