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Kingdom: Protista
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Division: Heterokontophyta
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Class: Phaeophyceae
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Order: Laminariales
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Family: Alariaceae
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Genus: Undaria
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Species: U. pinnatifida
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Binomial name
Undaria pinnatifida
(Harvey) Suringar, 1873
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Type Species

Template:Nihongo, Undaria pinnatifida, is a type of edible kelp.



New studies conducted at Hokkaido University have found that a compound in wakame known as fucoxanthin can help burn fatty tissue. Studies in mice have shown that fucoxanthin induces expression of the fat-burning protein UCP1 that accumulates in fat tissue around the internal organs. Expression of UCP1 protein was significantly increased in mice fed fucoxanthin. Wakame is also used in topical beauty treatments. See also Fucoidan

In Oriental medicine it has been used for blood purification, intestinal strength, skin, hair, reproductive organs and menstrual regularity [1].


In New Zealand, wakame is a very serious weed, and was nominated one of the 100 worst invasive species in the world. It was first discovered in Wellington Harbour in 1987. It probably arrived accidentally in the late 1980s, via shipping from Asia, in ballast water. Native to cold temperate coastal areas of Japan, Korea and China, in recent decades it has also established in France, Great Britain, Spain, Italy, Argentina and Australia.

Wakame is now found around much of south-eastern New Zealand, and as far north as Auckland. It spreads in two ways: naturally, through the millions of microscopic spores released by each fertile organism, and through attachment to vessel hulls and marine farming equipment. It is a highly successful and fertile species, which makes it a serious invader. However, its impacts are not well understood and are likely to vary, depending on the location.

As food

Wakame served with fish.

Wakame fronds are green and have a subtly sweet flavour and slippery texture. The leaves should be cut into small pieces as they will expand during cooking.

In Japan, wakame is distributed either dried or salted, and used in soups (particularly miso soup, and salads (Tofu salad), of often simply as a side dish to Tofu and a salad vegetable like cucumber. These dishes are typically dressed with Japanese ingredients including soya sauce and vinegar/rice vinegar.

  • In China, it is called qundaicai. Chinese production is concentrated around Dalian.
  • In Korea, it is called miyeok and used in salads or soup.

Wakame is a rich source of EPA, an ω-3 essential fatty acid. At over 400 mg/100 kcal or almost 1 mg/kJ, it has one of the higher nutrient:calorie ratios, and among the very highest for a vegetarian source. However, 100 grams of Wakame is more than 44 tablespoons of dried Wakame. The usual consumpton of Wakame is closer to 1 or 2 tablespoons.[2] Wakame also has high levels of calcium, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin B12.


  1. Kristina Turner (1996). The Self-Healing Cookbook: A Macrobiotic Primer for Healing Body, Minds and Moods with Whole Natural Foods. ISBN 0-945668-10-4. 
  2. "545 foods highest in 20:5 n-3". Nutrition Data. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.

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