Wakame (Undaria pinnatifida) is a type of edible brown algae that has been consumed for thousands of years, particularly in Asia 1. In Japanese and other Asian cultures, the ingestion of brown seaweed in the diet averages up to 3 g per day 1. It is used in condiments and soup bases or fresh in salads, rolls or stews for its nutritional content, flavor and texture. Undaria is also used in Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian) traditional medicine 2.
Undaria pinnatifida is rich in fucoidans, sulfated polysaccharides that contain large amounts of fucose and other monosaccharides, including galactose, mannose and glucose 3,4. In addition to being largely made up of soluble carbohydrates and edible protein, Undaria also contains lipids; vitamins A, C and E; B vitamins; calcium and magnesium; and some trace elements (such as iodine) 5,6.
Undaria is partially digested in the human gut 7, and test tube studies have demonstrated that fibers from brown algae can be fermented by human fecal bacteria 8. The serum uptake of fucoidans has not been assessed to date. Undaria pinnatifida has been consumed as a food and traditional medicine in Asia for thousands of years, indicating a safe precedence for human consumption 1,9.